Throughout the majority of my life, I have struggled with my weight. And without realizing it, I have also struggled with my self-worth. To me, the two were connected. I remember looking at myself in the mirror wishing things were different or I was different.
I was always active, trying out for sport teams in high school, riding horses, and roping with my dad. Although I considered myself active, I ate pretty much whatever I wanted and then some. I had an unhealthy relationship with food. It was comfort to me.
I was raised in a home with a lot of moving parts. My parents divorced when I was 3, leaving my mother raising 8 children. She remarried 4 years later to my stepfather who had 6 children. We moved to Idaho when I was 8 where I was lost in a sea of 14 siblings and complicated family matters that were never discussed. I remember feeling safe in the food pantry, and I found security in eating.
When junior high and high school came around, I had a hard time finding where I belonged. I wanted to do everything, be friends with everyone, and pretend like nothing was wrong. I knew I was heavier than all my friends, but I pretended like it didn’t bother me, and I definitely didn’t care enough to focus on my nutrition. I remember buying laxatives from the drug store, trying to gag myself in the school bathroom, or starving myself for a few meals thinking I could take the “easy” road.
My senior year of high school the addiction to food wasn’t enough, and I found other substances and outside sources for my “love” or “release.” I put myself into dangerous situations. I was scared, lonely, and lost. The consequences of my decisions made me grow up and face the problems I created as MY OWN rather than a result of my childhood.
I quit rodeo, along with other sporting activities, and learned more about myself during the following 3 months than I had in the previous 17 years of my life. Read more about my rodeo days HERE.
The Weight of Not Loving Myself
I found peace in God and my school work. Throughout college, my relationship with food was better but was still an issue. I tried to be more conscious of what I ate, all while getting 3 hours of sleep throughout nursing school.
My angels were always watching over me, even when I was bitter and negative and childish. They led me to my husband, Jeff, who is the most patient man I know! I was able to fight through a lot of demons because of him, and he helped me look outside myself. Things were good for a while.
To lose weight, I ran and ran and ran right before I got married, but the weight slowly came back on once I started working the night shift for work. My brother-in-law was an exercise science major and needed people to train. He introduced me to a fitness fad called CrossFit. I was immediately hooked.
When I became pregnant with Reagan Jane, I was just starting my second year as a full-time night-shift labor and delivery nurse. I didn’t work out much, and I focused on working as much as possible. I also ate as much as possible. I was over 200 pounds when I was full-term with Reagan.
I started going to a CrossFit gym when Reagan was about 9 months old. I lost most of my pregnancy weight just in time to start growing my little boy, Baylor.
Once again, I worked full-time nights as a labor nurse. Although I continued CrossFit and was more active during my pregnancy with Baylor than my pregnancy with Reagan, my weight continued to increase. I blame Taco Bell. HA! (I wrote a post about my pregnancy fitness journey HERE.) I used pregnancy as an excuse to complain and eat whatever I wanted.
Realizing My Breaking Point–and the Strength Within
After having Baylor, I struggled deeply with postpartum depression. I was heavier than I had ever been—220 pounds—when I got home from the hospital, and I was overwhelmed with work, two very young children, church callings, and other family obligations. (Read a bit about my nursing journey HERE.)
I was left mesmerized by the power that women possess. Every single woman. Whether they have had a child or not. How could I ever doubt the power that I have? The power within me! I felt weak, depressed, lost, and lonely as I used literally every ounce I had to serve others.
I remember breastfeeding Baylor at 2 a.m., exhausted beyond the point I ever thought was possible, and I told myself that enough was enough. I HAD to pull myself out of that dark place I was in.
Immediately, my thoughts went to a patient I had had recently, and tears began streaming down my cheeks and onto Baylor’s forehead. My patient was determined and desperate to have her first baby naturally. I remember walking into her dark hospital room filled with essential oils, feeling something different–a special vibe. She was focused and prepared, yet apprehensive and terrified.
For the next 5 hours of my patient’s delivery, I knelt on her bed, in the bathtub, and on the floor, assisting the midwife in her labor and eventually the beautiful natural birth of her baby. As I rubbed her back while she went through transition and took deep cleansing breaths at the peak of her contraction, I was, once again, left mesmerized by the power that women possess. Every single woman. Whether they have had a child or not.
As I cried over Baylor and thought back on that special moment from work, it finally hit me. How could I ever doubt the power that I have? The power within me! I felt weak, depressed, lost, and lonely as I used literally every ounce I had to serve others.
How would I lose this weight?
How would I get my body back or have energy to work out?
How would I be a good mother to my kids?
Finding What I Didn’t Know Was Missing
I found something I didn’t know I was missing, something that would change my entire life.
Every night I would find myself in the eyes of my patients. The one thing that was draining me more than anything else in my life, at that time, was also fueling something so deep inside of me, and I didn’t see it at first. Then when I did see it, it didn’t just fuel me to change and improve every aspect of my life, but it also drove me to improve the life of EVERY SINGLE MOTHER out there.
I was determined to share my story. To blog, talk, cry, teach, and learn. To have a place in this big internet world that women could come to and find that they weren’t alone. That life was hard and that was okay. That they could TRANSFORM themselves even after motherhood. That MOTHERHOOD could fuel their strength, their sexuality, their goals, and so much more.
I began eating a modified Paleo diet (I added some whole grains) while I breastfed, and then I ate strict Paleo after I was done breastfeeding. I didn’t know anything about clean eating. I learned a few things in nursing school, but I didn’t learn what I needed to eat to fuel my body or lose weight.
The CrossFit gym I had been going to was doing a Paleo challenge, so I thought I would give it a try. It was hard, but it worked! It took me almost 2 full years of patience, sweat, tears, and personal growth, but I finally lost weight. I not only lost my baby weight but 80 pounds total! I found my voice to share my story. I talk all about that journey here (“Peace Out, Baby Weight!”), here (“Everything About Paleo”), and here (“Your Fitness/Health Questions, Answered”).
After I shared my journey on my blog, I had the opportunity to share my journey at a conference in Utah. I found so much joy in talking with other moms and women face to face about the struggles of weight loss and the joys of making fitness goals that I began making fitness the center of my blog. It was a leap I wasn’t sure I was prepared to take. It made me way more vulnerable and transparent than I had ever thought I would be on my blog.
IT ALSO DID SOMETHING I HAD NEVER THOUGHT WOULD HAPPEN.
The emails and messages started flooding in from women all over the world who were lost too. I was in tears every single night while I read story after story of women who needed help, who needed a place to share, who didn’t know where to turn. I know now that fitness was the ONLY reason why I needed to start a blog in the first place. More about that later…
About a year after I had Baylor, Jeff and I decided to take our CrossFit obsession to another level and put together a garage gym. (Find out more about it here: DIY Crossfit Gym Garage, Part 1 & DIY 3-in-1 Wood Plyo Box for $35)
The closest gym was about 35 minutes away, and it didn’t have childcare. This was when I decided to use my children as weights and incorporate them into my workouts. I found creative ways to work out and make it work for my family.
My followers loved the workouts, and I loved sharing them. Jeff and I made it more official, and we came up with the 6-week at-home CrossFit-inspired workout plan and weekly playground workouts in the summer! (Check out this CrossFit-inspired playground workout and another great CrossFit-inspired playground workout). Oh, and we put together a great 6-week in-the-gym program that is available in the shop!
I found a passion sharing my love for working out with my kids and transforming my body. In fact, I loved it so much, I quit working as a nurse to blog full time. Even though I wasn’t making money blogging, I knew it was what I was called to do.
Although mental and spiritual growth can occur during one’s fitness journey, for me, those aspects of my health weren’t put to the test until I moved to Utah. I was safe in Idaho, and while living there, I was protected in my small and simple town. I was able to lose weight slowly, and I thought that through weight loss I had found myself. I didn’t have companies asking for me to model or news stations asking me to tell my story. I didn’t even have other Instagrammers commenting on my feed, comparing my journey to theirs.
When I moved to Utah, and all of that started to happen, I was flattered, excited, and anxious to see where my blog would go. Once I moved to the city and had so many opportunities come my way, I soon learned that I was not prepared for that kind of pressure. Read about some of my struggles HERE.
Looking for Worth in Weight Loss
I have always struggled with my weight–and my self-worth. To me, the two were always connected. I had no idea that the scale wasn’t where I was going to find my worth.
I pressed on, worked hard, and masked a lot of insecurities, self-doubts, and pain, much like I had throughout my childhood. I continued to share tips on various topics, including finding that secret inspiration you’ve been aching for and my famous broomstick workout, but I also continued to struggle. I was using fitness as another outlet, another drug, another bandage to cover up the journey that I wasn’t willing to take. That I didn’t know existed.
I had no idea that the scale wasn’t where I was going to find my worth. I kept looking, furiously going back to it every day hoping it would all of a sudden heal some piece of myself. I looked in the mirror and saw a heavier person. I didn’t see the “skinny” person. I developed a disorder called body dysmorphia disorder and started using medication and starvation to keep the weight off. I was an impatient mother and a disconnected wife. I was lost, lost so deeply that my life was crumbling around me, more than ever before.
Self-love, Support, and Sharing
But like I said before, my angels are so good, and they are watching out for me. My sister (who lives in Montana) called me up one day and said, “I know this sounds crazy, but I came across a name of a hypnotherapist that you need to see. He lives in Utah.” Let me note that up to this point, I had never seen a therapist in my entire life. I knew my sister’s suggestion was inspired. I had to go. And I did. And it changed my life. I was able to communicate with myself. My conscious mind communicated with my subconscious. Wait, what? I can heal myself? No way!
At that same time, Jeff and I signed up for a gym membership that had yoga available. I had always been curious about yoga, so I gave it a try. It changed my life. And I am not saying that lightly. This specific type of yoga transformed my awareness and opened channels within my mind and body that had never been accessed. It was as if a light had turned on and a heavy fog had been lifted. For the first time in my life, I was able to sweat, find a safe place on my mat, offer all my crap up on that mat, look at myself and that crap, and let it go!! (That will make more sense after you check out my self-love course and my yoga course!) I had the key, and it was within me the entire time, just as the key has been within you this entire time.
Throughout the past year, I have gained an awakened sense of self and have shared a bit of that through some of my posts, such as this one on the Stripped Project and this one on the best yoga poses to help fight anxiety and depression.
Through yoga, meditation, and hypnotherapy, I found the self-love I had been missing.
I remembered why I started sharing my journey in the first place. My goal was not to model for this company or that company. My goal was to HEAL and HELP women, to act as I did as a labor nurse and lift and support them.
For now, that’s where my story ends. My journey will never be over. I have new goals and visions. I want to hug and hold every woman out there. I want to tell them that they CAN DO IT. That they ARE STRONG ENOUGH. That they are GOOD ENOUGH!
There is no “finish line” when talking about my fitness journey. It’s an everyday struggle, blessing, and fight. I share it all, and I am grateful for it all. May we all find light and inspiration through sharing our journeys. XOXO
You can do it. You are strong enough. You are good enough!
I share a lot about my journey with self-love on my Instagram (@simplysadiejane) under the hashtag #ssjanefitness. If you don’t already, I hope you’ll follow along and join me on my never-ending journey.
– Shout out to my husband who not only loved me no matter what size I was but will continue to love and support me regardless of weight! I love you, babe. Thanks for always loving me and being there! –