My Health and Wellness Journey: Part One

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Hi friends!!

Happy Wednesday!!

Last week, I reached out on Instagram and asked everyone if they would be interested in hearing about my health and wellness journey. Almost all of you were super encouraging and told me you would love to hear more about it- so here I am...getting ready to share "Part One" of my story!! :)

So before I dive into the first part of my journey I really do feel the need to make sure that you know every word I write is coming straight from my HEART. I have had a long, winding, HARD road when it comes to my health and wellness and it is only MY experience. Everyone has a different story, different issues, different EVERYTHING. This is my story and if it can resonate with just one person or make one person feel less alone in her journey or maybe even motivate one of you- then it is all worth it to me to share this part of my life!
Third Grade.
That is when I first realized I looked different than most girls my age. My mom was (and still is) an amazing seamstress and she made me a purple and yellow swimsuit to wear for a special vacation I was taking with my cousin and aunt. I vividly remember trying it on and looking in the mirror and telling my mom: "I look fat."
I could see how TIGHT the swimsuit was on my body and it just didn't fit right. My mom was so kind and reassured me that we could make some healthier choices and change up some of the food that I was eating. And that was the beginning of my awareness that I was a "bigger" girl and that food was a BIG deal in my life.

Fast forward to junior high...I developed VERY early and looked like I was in high school when I was in 7th grade. I was taller than most of my friends and desperately just wanted to be "tiny" like most of them were. I started to form some REALLY unhealthy eating habits like packing 10 baby carrots and 7 wheat thins for lunch...then would come home and eat a TON of animal crackers and peanut butter because I was starving.
All the continued to be a BIG deal in my life...partially because I was part of a big family and all of our gatherings revolved around a bunch of yummy food, partially because my mom was a wonderful cook and baker and always had some yummy coming out of the oven and mostly because for me- food equaled COMFORT. 

Despite my horrid attempts at dieting and trying to be "tiny" like most of my friends, in high school, I continued to gain weight. I was VERY conscious of my size and while all of my friends (and even some family) meant well- they would say things like, "You are just bigger boned" when I would be self deprecating and call myself not nice names in regard to my size. Despite being overweight, I was fairly active. My father was a HUGE advocate of daily exercise and I loved going running with him, going on power walks with my mom, going on bike rides, hikes...everything! I loved to be doing all the things! I was a cheerleader all throughout high school...but again- was SO aware of my size. I was a "base" and wore one of the biggest cheerleading uniforms they had available. 
My extremely unhealthy eating habits of being super restrictive with my food and then totally overeating (or bingeing- whatever you want to call it) continued all throughout high school.

I left for college and unfortunately brought my horrible eating habits and unhealthy mindset with me. I also had A LOT of fun with certain beverages (you can read between the lines there ;)- which did not help me at all- and my weight continued to creep up and my sadness about what I looked liked and how I felt about myself continued to decline.
All the while..I continued to be super active...swimming laps several times a week at our student recreation center and I even did a sprint triathlon with my dad!

Now- I just have to jump in here and let you know that while I am painting a pretty grim picture of my growing up years...I was REALLY happy in so many ways! I had lots of friends, a wonderful family, did SO many fun things...I just was ALWAYS in a battle with my body and felt totally controlled by my unhealthy relationship with food!
And- I feel like it's totally important to keep mentioning that while my nutrition was SO off and unhealthy- I remained a very active person...because I KNOW this was my saving grace. I know that while in so many areas of my life I was SO unhealthy...maintaining an active lifestyle is totally what kept me sane and moving forward. I graduated from college and then went onto graduate school. While I was in graduate school...I had the BEST time and also went through some VERY hard times. I didn't gain much weight during this period of time in my life but I definitely continued to maintain SUPER unhealthy eating and lifestyle habits. 

Once I graduated from grad school, I moved to San Diego for a little bit to complete an externship and then I moved to Chicago to start my career as a speech-language pathologist. This was definitely one of the HARDEST seasons of my life. While I was living with 2 of my good friends, I was in a HUGE, brand new city, my job was VERY stressful and I just felt lost to be completely honest. Sooo....during this time...I did a lot of eating, lots of drinking adult beverages and became very unhappy. My dating life was pretty much non-existent and I just felt SO uncomfortable in my skin. I was not healthy mentally or physically.

Are you still with me??? HA!
We're almost finished with Part I :)

So- after working for two years in Chicago, I knew I needed a change. A BIG DRASTIC CHANGE. My roommate and I took a quick weekend trip down to Austin, TX and in 2 short days of being there- I knew that was where I was meant to go. That was in February 2006. I finished my contract with the Chicago Public School District in June, hung out with my parents for a couple of months and they helped me move to Austin in August 2006. 

I literally EXHALED the minute I got to Austin. I truly cannot describe the sense of peace I had moving there. And I knew NO ONE! I was completely alone and it was exhilarating. I knew Austin was the place where I was meant to start over and begin a new journey. 
And.... that's exactly what happened!!
Okay...enough rambling for today. 
Again..I hope you can read my story and not be offended by anything I wrote as these are just MY feelings. They are VERY real and I will be honest- it feels a little scary to be sharing this story. But I truly feel like I have been called to share this story. God is the only reason I am where I am today and EVERY part of my story points to His faithfulness and His steadfast love.

I will share Part Two next Wednesday!

Linking up with my wonderful friend Whitney today!


  1. Justine. Thank you for being so real and honest about your story. I was the “tiny” girl in HS. I mean my prom dress was a size 2 and still had to be taken in. Now, I struggle daily with weight but WW is helping so much!!

  2. I never would have guessed that this was part of your story. You seem to have it all together with healthy eating, exercise, and a great attitude - beautiful inside and out. I know that I can relate to your story, as I'm sure many others can. I'm so glad you made that move to Austin. Isn't it amazing how one decision can snowball into so many life changes? I'm looking forward to reading the rest next week. Thanks for the inspiration.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story! I loved reading it and am ready for part 2. It's wild to look back on those young years and realize how early little girls are getting messages about their size. Kind of makes me cringe for my daughter and gives me extra motivation to make healthy changes for my family. Your stories of your dad being a big exerciser made me think. All those little decisions as a parent really leave an impact on your kids. It was great to hear how much you've learned about yourself and things that don't work for you. I loved hearing about your decision to move to Austin. What a huge, brave change that made a big impact on your future. Bring on Part 2 :)

  4. I can relate to so much of this story. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know it is really hard to be vulnerable, but I can relate so much to this! Thank you for sharing! You are such a motivator and an encourager to me!


I love hearing from you! Let's keep it nice though...ain't nobody got time for anything else!