Today I have another fellow FitBloggin’ 2013 attendee who happens to reside in the LA area, Sam Bangs of Life Is Bangin‘. Sam is not only a personal trainer and coach for the Fleet Feet Sports Burbank Running Training Programs but she’s also an Ambassador for Greatist, SweatPink (like me) and GirlsGoneSporty. We had a fun night together when Sam asked me to appear as the in-house Registered Dietitian for the Diva Night at Fleet Feet Sports Burbank back in October. There are many layers to this stunning and sassy girl from the East Coast and I’m really happy she’s guest posting here today. Soooo have you met Sam?
Dr. BangsLove, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Myself
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. Not yet anyway.
“I’m wonderful! I’m nuts about me! … I’ll tell you want I want. I want a home and I want a family—and I want a career, too. And I want a dog and I want a cat and I want three goldfish. I want everything! There’s no harm in wanting it … because there’s not a chance in hell we’re going to get it all anyway. But if you don’t want it you’ve got even less chance than that…”
– Neil Simon, Chapter Two
When Melissa asked me to write a guest blog, I was thrilled. Part of me LOVES being in the spotlight. So when I was trying to think of my “ah-ha” moment in terms of health and fitness, I knew it HAD to be juicy. I mean, it’s ME; there has to be some big cinematic moment, right?
I’m a film junkie, a thespian, a drama queen!
Unfortunately, I’m not actually that exciting. You see, the other part of me is a nerdy homebody who’d rather stay in reading a book on a Friday night. Mostly because I don’t want to have to worry about what people on the “outside” might think of me.
I’ve always been a bit of a worrier. Okay, a “bit” might be the understatement of the year. As one of the lucky 5% of the population with bipolar disorder, my crippling anxiety often leaves me overcome with worry to the point of hyperventilation and full out “crazy-person rocking back and forth.” The average person would find this rather inconvenient. Add in a lifelong struggle with weight and body image, along with a desire to make it in the entertainment industry… you’re just asking for trouble.
I was always overweight as a kid, but I never gave it much thought. I was the only girl on my baseball team and had the highest batting average; a slow runner but that never seemed to matter. I was quite skilled at ballet, jazz and modern dance; who cared if I was the biggest girl in the class? No, none of it mattered until boys and mean girls came into the picture. Thanks a lot, junior high. Soon the name calling and teasing began. One boy went so far as to ask me out as a joke, turning back to his friends to hoot and holler when I’d actually bought into it. And so at the ripe age of 12, my poor body image was deeply ingrained.
I recently came across my “inspiration” book. A handmade, multipage collage of girls I’d cut out of magazines, lusting after their airbrushed legs and exposed ribs. Every other page or so, there was a “workout” that consisted of a LOT of ab and butt exercises. I did them religiously. Experimenting with diets and the gym, I lost about 40 lbs by the time my junior prom came around and I looked FANTASTIC. However, the stress of senior year brought back about 10 lbs and my weight began to yo-yo through most of college. That is until I discovered by new bestie: my ED.
I’ve tried ‘em all; not eating, over eating, bingeing and purging, laxatives, over-exercise… name it, I’ve tried it. And my body fluctuates from healthy to thin to overweight and everything in between, while I berate and criticize myself with constant worries of being thin enough to be an actress, being good enough at my day job, being smart enough for my boyfriend… being ENOUGH. I finally I lost myself somewhere along the way and even though I was surrounded by people who loved me, I felt lost, and tired, and hopeless. It wasn’t until I started challenging myself physically and mentally that I managed to really get a hold on who I really am instead of clinging to my worries and my ED as my identity.
Between being a trainer, a running coach, an actor and managing marketing and events for a running store, I’m challenged every day. Most of the time, I have NO idea what I’m doing. Floundering in the dark has kept me focused and striving for bigger and better things. And I’ve attained some. I can’t pinpoint what the catalyst was, but within the last couple of months, something has changed inside me. I feel strong, and capable and dare I say it, ENOUGH. I even let myself eat things. Like a normal person! And I don’t feel guilty about it. I’ve become focused on becoming the best possible version of me, for ME. Not for the entertainment industry, and not even for my boyfriend—ME. I’ve thrown my hands up in the air and proclaimed, “come at me!” and the universe seems to be responding in my favor.
So, my ah-ha moment is more of a letting go moment. Everyone says that I’m still young and it’s okay that I don’t have everything figured out. I think it’s okay even if you’re not young. Give yourself room to change and grow. I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do professionally, and I don’t know if I’m truly “cured” from having an ED—but that’s okay. Right now, things are coming up roses. I’m exploring different career opportunities, different modes of fitness and eating, and I’m even training for my first marathon. It’s crazy what you can do if you just let yourself.
So let go.
Take a breath and run.