When I was sixteen I developed an eating disorder. I didn’t know how to express the chaos inside my mind or the emotional pain deeply rooted in my heart, so I found control over my body and food.

I liked to stay small, and this lasted for many years, as I often chose to look as fragile on the outside as I felt on the inside. Even when I claimed to be healthier I did intensive detoxes to fit into my smallest jeans, and often rebelled in a food and booze binge, or binges during the middle of the night.  

When I walked away from an unhealthy marriage and reclaimed my life I decided to also leave my obsession with staying small behind.  I ate and drank in merriment, sometimes a little too much, but I rejoiced in it. I gained a healthy ten pounds or so. I like it think of it as the year I gave birth to a new life, and it was my well earned baby weight.

I embraced my new curves gracefully, and during this time a young man fell in love with me and all those curves as well. Eventually, with his time and effort, I let my guard down and fell in love with him too. This love encouraged me to want to be the best version of myself.

This meant physically as well. I was getting tired of being tired, and was inspired by his physical strength and vibrancy. I started slow. For the first time in my life I wanted to be fit but didn’t care about being skinny or losing weight. So I started working out. I found a place where you could work with trainers affordably for 30 minutes. The first time I arrived I showed up late and ate chocolate as my pre-workout snack. Over time I got better. I got stronger. I worked so hard that when I made my trainer work out with me he would end up out of breath and covered in his own sweat. I lost some fat and put on some muscle. I learned how to eat to support and recover from my workouts. For the first time in my life I had no desire to restrict my food at all, I needed that fuel!Gillian Young Feeling Strong

It is now a year later and I’m still going strong.  I workout alone in an all women’s gym and consistently fuel my workouts and aim to lift heavier. I’m trying to put on more muscle, and love seeing my body grow. When I sit down to lift weights my strong thighs cover the chair and I love it. I really do. After years of wishing I had skinnier thighs and a smaller butt, I’m whispering “Grow, baby, grow!”

I love feeling my muscles grow. I love learning about how the human body works. And most importantly, I love creating my own idea of beauty. And after years of putting in a lot of emotional growth, I’m happy to see it come to the surface as well.