It all starts as a young girl who just wants to fit in.
I remember going through elementary, middle, and high school constantly comparing myself. Looking at my friends and wondering why I was so much bigger than them. Noticing how boys talked to my friends versus how they talked to me. Being humiliated when I went shopping with friends because I couldn’t fit in the same clothes as them. This all hurt—a lot. My parents told me I was normal and beautiful just the way I was. This made me feel better, but only to a certain extent.
As I got older, I started seeing more and more ads on social media regarding the “perfect” body, ranging from weight loss pills, what a “beautiful” girl was expected to look like, how to get a six pack, etc. This “perfect” body was always looming in my subconscious, not only on social media but also on television, the internet, and basically every form of visual advertisement. It was everywhere. I didn’t particularly notice it then, but I had become somewhat brainwashed growing up into thinking I needed to look a certain way. But I didn’t look like those girls, I didn’t look like my friends; I was kinda chubby and, therefore, not “beautiful.” I distinctively remember one specific moment that cemented this in my brain. It might sound silly, but during my seventh grade English class someone compared me to Theodore from Alvin and the Chipmunks in front of the whole room. I asked him, “How are we similar?” His response: “You are both fat!” Although I had long silently thought it to myself, hearing it out loud was much more degrading.
Fast forward to my sophomore year of high school when I met the love of my life. He already loved me unconditionally, but that still didn’t seem enough for me. I just wanted to be “sexy” for him. I wanted to look good and impress him even more. By my junior year of high school, I was overwhelmed with the idea that I wasn’t skinny enough, I didn’t have abs, and I didn’t like what I saw when I looked in the mirror. I had tried everything, every diet, every exercise regimen, but nothing was working fast enough. I wanted to be skinny NOW! So I turned to bulimia, an emotional eating disorder that consumes the thoughts and actions of countless lives on a daily basis. A disease, however, that was giving me “results” and making me feel “skinny.” I was relieved because I had finally found a solution and, unfortunately, I didn’t care what kind of damage I was doing to my body. This went on for five years until my junior year of college.
A lot happened in my life during those five years. I graduated high school, moved into my first apartment, started college, and moved to Hawai‘i. I also became a health and fitness coach to help women develop a healthy lifestyle through exercise and nutrition. Yet at the same time, I was still struggling with bulimia. I soon realized just how hypocritical I was; I was teaching people how to live a healthy life while personally living an incredibly unhealthy one.
I realized I had to make a choice: either I needed to give up my love of coaching women or I needed to quit my eating disorder. I knew there was really only one choice, but overcoming an eating disorder is a lot easier said than done. I was struggling mentally, and living in Hawai‘i—where it is bikini season all year—did not make it any easier. Nonetheless, I was determined.
I started by giving up the scale. No longer weighing myself was probably the biggest achievement in my recovery. I stopped caring about the number on the scale and instead focused on how I felt. I ate when I was hungry, fueled my body with nutritious food, exercised often, and started to love myself unconditionally. I was not only doing this for myself. My boyfriend knew about my eating disorder, but I had become really good at hiding it most of the time, even telling people I was over that “phase” in my life.
The company I initially worked for as a fitness coach focused primarily on weight loss. Participants were rewarded for losing the most weight instead of necessarily developing life-long healthy habits. I was tired of promoting weight loss instead of self-love, strength, confidence, and holistic health. Being mentally healthy is equally as important as being physically fit.
In September of 2017, I left the company I was originally working with and decided to create my own at-home workout/lifestyle program, Paradise Fitness with Carly: At-Home Transformation. Why? Well, because I wanted to help women develop a healthy lifestyle the correct way. I wanted to help them develop something they could sustain over the course of their lives. I wanted to help them find a sense of self-love rather than focusing solely on their physical appearance.
During my eating disorder recovery, I learned you must learn to love yourself and do things out of love in order to live a healthy lifestyle. You should workout and eat healthy because you love your body, not because you are trying to lose a certain amount of weight or look a certain way because you want to fit in. I realized we are all unique in our own way. We all have different body types. And guess what? That is okay! We are not meant to look the same; the world would be so boring if that were the case.
With Paradise Fitness with Carly: At-Home Transformation, I get to work with women everyday to help them develop their sense of self-love, get stronger, fuel their body healthily, and form uplifting relationships to inspire them throughout their journey. I have created an online community focused around my program where participants can go to ask questions, share struggles and achievements, and have a safe place filled with like-minded women who are working toward some of the same goals.
Eating disorders are something you’re not really supposed to talk about. I never imagined talking about it with other people because I was afraid of being judged. Once I got over that fear and realized how important it is to talk about it, I found there are so many other people who I know struggling with the same thing. Society makes it harder for people to love themselves. We are often told we are conceited or stuck up if we look at ourselves in a positive way. This is far from the truth.
You are beautiful in your own way. Keep your chin up, love yourself unconditionally, and go change the world!