Ashley L.

St. Louis Park, MN

Ashley L

I have always felt uncomfortable in my body. I remember trying to squeeze my 10-year-old self into the biggest swimsuit available for my swim team. Twisting and hopping around in that poolside bathroom I felt so out of place. At the time I excelled in swimming – often finishing at the very top of my age group in meets. Still, despite what my body could do, I felt uncomfortable inside of it.

As I grew so did my discomfort in my body. During my teenage years I tried often to lose weight – checking out diet books from the library and trying every “weird trick” I could find. For a time I only ate things that were orange. I bought a mini trampoline in an attempt to bounce off the pounds. I cut out carbs right before a choir trip to Italy (bad timing).

After high school my attempts at fitness were full of peaks and valleys – sometimes working out for two hours a day, sometimes not at all for weeks. Nutrition was my main challenge – I would track my food for a while and then say screw it and let go of the reins completely.

In 2017 I joined Life Time in St. Louis Park, MN. I signed up for my first 60 day and joined Team Burn. I did a metabolic assessment and was encouraged. It seemed like I had the capacity to be an athlete. I saw progress in my workouts – I ran faster and lifted heavier. My coach, Sarah, pushed me to keep going with the hard intervals when I wanted to stop. I saw change in hard numbers for the first time. My effort was paying off.

Though I was exercising consistently, my other habits didn’t support my fitness. I was working 12-hour night shifts as a nurse and never sleeping enough. My nutrition was inconsistent – I would track and do well for a few days but always revert to whatever felt convenient or fun (aka takeout and alcohol). I stopped weighing for the 60 day after a few weeks. I tried Alpha classes but I felt like a total poser. I was embarrassed to be present in my body. I quit.

I’ve read a lot of body transformation success stories. Often people describe a sudden shift in perspective – a switch that flips and changes someone completely. I didn’t have that. I signed up for this 60 day feeling defeated. I had failed so many times. I would probably give up after a few weeks. I went to the 60 day kick off and felt so uncomfortable. I cried listening to people’s stories of going all in. It was terrible.

Regardless, I decided to sign up with Jordan for personal training. I needed the 1:1 accountability. I sent him my food journals and logged my workouts in an app. I worked out with him once a week and saw myself growing stronger. I went home early from events so I could get to bed on time. As the days went by I did the math (6 days down – 54 to go, 162 meals to track, 39 more workouts). I felt uncomfortable with the process – I wasn’t confident, but I was doing it.

After a few weeks I met with Sam, a dietitian. She helped me feel like I was following the right plan and encouraged me to try the D.Tox (I already had a kit at home gathering dust in my closet). I started it – and finished it. I felt great. I was proud of myself.

With each day I gained confidence. I took up space in the free weight area instead of hiding in the corner. I took out my headphones and actually spoke to people. I attended 60 day events. I leaned in to my discomfort.

A few times during the 60 day I made food choices I regretted. But instead of letting my feelings of guilt and shame lead me to order pizza and open a bottle of wine, I just noticed these feelings. I noticed how uncomfortable they were and I moved on.

Despite sometimes feeling like the numbers on the InBody were going to be disappointing, I weighed in every week. A few times my weight went up and I wanted to believe that this meant things weren’t working, that I wasn’t trying hard enough. The numbers in my nutrition spreadsheet, the green check marks next to my workouts, and the reflection I saw in the mirror while doing deadlifts told a different story. I sat for a few minutes with my disappointment. After that, I kept going.

There is a quote by Marcus Aurelius that goes, “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” For me, my biggest obstacle has been my own discomfort – and this discomfort has also been the thing that has helped me move forward the most. Today, I am choosing to treat my body with gratitude. As a nurse I see people every day with immense physical challenges. People who can’t eat healthy foods or move their bodies. I appreciate all the things my body can do. The ability to lift heavy things, to ride my bike to the lake with my fiancé, to eat and breathe and do all the things that we do without thinking.

I am still uncomfortable with this process. However, this discomfort isn’t something to shy away from – but something to embrace. My discomfort, my embarrassment, my insecurity – these feelings are my way forward in improving my life. So for them, I am grateful.