Updated: November 14, 2017

My weight was never a problem until I started my first job during my senior year of high school. Until then, I played softball and was a cheerleader, so I was always doing some sort of exercise. Taking the job meant I had to give up sports. Three years later, I had gained 30 pounds and wore a size 11. I hated shopping for clothes and was embarrassed about my body. I decided that if I did not do something about my weight, it would only get worse.

I joined Weight Watchers and started walking in the evenings after work. I cut back the amount of fat in my diet and followed the Weight Watchers meal plan. Within a year, I had lost about 10 pounds and was a size 9. My goal was to reach a size 7.

I continued my healthy lifestyle after getting married. I cooked low-fat meals at home and exercised with an aerobics program on television. My husband bought me a gym membership one Christmas and I attended step aerobics class four times a week. I lost 10 more pounds.

A year later, I became pregnant, and I continued exercising with my doctor's approval. I walked on the treadmill and attended toning classes until the day I delivered. Eight months after my son was born, I was at my pre-pregnancy weight. My family and friends complimented me on my weight loss, which motivated me to continue losing weight.

Unfortunately, I became obsessed with diet and exercise. I allowed myself 800 calories of fat-free foods with no nutritional value and exercised every day. If I ate more than 800 calories, I purged. By the time my son was a year old, I had lost another 20 pounds and my family and friends were concerned that I was too thin and looked unhealthy. My hair started thinning and I was frequently lightheaded because I didn't provide my body with the nourishment it needed.

Upon the urging of my husband, I saw a psychologist, who diagnosed me with an eating disorder. During therapy, I learned that I thought I needed to be thin for others to like me and accept me. Over time, I learned that there is more to a person than what they look like. It's what's on the inside that counts.

With the support of my family and friends, I turned my life around. I added more calories to my diet with a healthy balance of fat, carbohydrates and protein. I also started a weight-training program and within four months, I gained back 10 pounds of muscle. Now I'm a certified fitness instructor. My goal is to keep these healthful eating and exercise habits for the rest of my life. Along the way, I'm helping others achieve the same. >

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