Writing one’s story can always seem like a daunting task. What made me do it? I believe my story is not so different from many others. I have to be willing to share it in order to help others overcome the same things I have faced….
Weight and extremely poor self esteem were not only a part of my life, they were rites of passage. My mother and her mother (and the mothers before) all have dealt with poor self esteem stemming from bad judgment and the unrelenting pursuit of what the world labels “perfection.” I was inducted into the deprivation diet life cycle at the tender age of 9 years old. I was a chubby kid, to say the least, but things only got worse from this point. My mom and I were literally on every diet. Low fat, NO fat, cabbage soup, Atkins, Weight Watchers, low carb, high carb, broth, no solids, no meats, no sugars, grapefruit, etc. I’m sure you get the picture. I never felt good enough and over time the warped thoughts that it would never happen to me simply because I was not worth it began to wrap their claws into the dark places of my mind.
Over the years I just accepted the fact that I was the fat girl who would always be on the next diet. I ran, discovered weights (though never really heavy) and wore high heels on the stair step machine my mom bought. Health was poor in our household and I was always sick. My mom suffered the worst and had debilitating headaches for as long as I can remember. In December of 1994 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. In October of 1995 she passed away….
I settled into a habit of binge eating and starving, then killing myself on the track. I would run until I threw up to punish my nutritional sins. By the age of 20 I was married with a baby on the way. That gave me the green light to let loose, so I gained over 65 pounds with my son. Mind you, he was only just over 6 pounds when he was born! I kept eating, this time without the punishment afterwards. I decided having another baby would make me feel better. Again, a warped mind is a terrible thing. I had my daughter in October of 2001 and tipped the scale at over 250 pounds on my 5’6″ frame. After she was born, I slipped deeper into depression. I can most honestly say that for as long as I can remember (even as a young child) I wanted to die. I always felt like the world would be better off without me, like I never would FIT. Several times after my daughter was born I did try to take my own life. Luckily, God reminded me I have a purpose, I just had to find it.
Through a series of events I will not bore you with, I came upon yoga. My teacher encouraged me (all 210 pounds of me) to become a teacher, so I did. With certification in hand, I landed at a gym and quickly became a certified aerobics instructor. I taught my first weight lifting class at 196 pounds. Over a decade I began to realize my passion for health and fitness. In 2004, I became a certified personal trainer and that was followed quickly by a nutrition certification.
One of the most interesting things about this time was during my certifications I was able to talk to some oncologists. They agreed that my mom would have had a much better fighting chance at beating cancer if her body had not been beaten down by all the dieting. I resolved to give myself, and my children, a larger fighting chance.
Over an 11 year span, I have become completely immersed in my passion. I want to help people. Sometimes, there are roadblocks though…. Last year, my husband and I decided to have another baby. Two teenagers (almost) just wasn’t challenging enough! At the doctors urging to gain just a bit of body fat, I gained about 5% and we were pregnant in no time! The doc was amazed at the strength this child had and I was convinced I was going to breed a super human….a girl can dream. Well, at the 16 week check up, there was no heart beat to be found. The odd part was my body still believed the pregnancy was viable and the hormones were crazy! After a couple of procedures and a 2 week recovery, I got a pat on the back and was released to resume my normal life. The problem was, I had no idea what that was…..
I was basically left with a fluffy body and no prize at the end of the race. After a couple of months of terrible self pity, I dusted off my workout journal and headed out to the gym. Over a few weeks I started to feel alive again. All the bad feelings and what if’s began to drip away as each drop of sweat hit the mat. I hung my punching bag back up and began to let myself go. My body was ready to be recreated once again. Getting control of my hormones was quite a hassle, but eating clean made it doable. I went on to get my MMA conditioning certification and pick up boot camps and small training groups.
Now, I travel the globe with a ministry teaching self defense to victims of sex trafficking. I help young ladies who have had everything taken from them regain their voice. It is something wonderful to see the light in some one’s eyes when they see that they have power. I know that feeling. I have been there more than once. I am here now to help others take that scary step into their power. You can accomplish much more than you ever thought possible. One step at a time….
Michelle Carlson is a certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist, experienced registered yoga teacher at the 200 hour level, a nutritionist, and an ambassador in the #sweatpink community, striving to help others live healthier lives. She is the author of The Little Fit Book and Your Guide to Lasting Weight Loss, both available at Amazon.com. She strives to help others live out their passion in life. Michelle is also a Nike Foundation Safe Spaces Ambassador and travels the globe to help fight and end human trafficking and modern day slavery.
You can find out more about Michelle here: www.michellecfitness.com