Today, I thought I’d open up a little more about the story that most people reach out to thank me for writing.
I’ve received numerous thank you emails from people that are grateful for the fact that I revealed it here, for everyone to see. And I am elated that writing it has helped them.
The extremely frightening choice I made to reveal all has been justified by the reactions I received from all of you.
The point of me doing this was to help anyone that might be in the same situation.
I want to show you that it is possible to change your life.
It is possible to empower yourself to overcome any obstacle that stands in your way.
If you have read my About page, you know my story. But here are the gory details…
I was diagnosed with clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in my first year of high school. It was a rather late diagnosis, as I think I’ve suffered from it for my whole life.
I’ve always been somewhat of a loner even in grade school, spending recess alone listening to my pink walkman. I remember the lunch lady would try to come over to talk to me, but I wanted nothing to do with her. I understand now that she just felt bad for me.
In high school, my depression and obsessive compulsive disorder got worse. Whether it was the change in hormones, or the culmination of years and years of hearing “Just stop doing that!” (in regards to my OCD behaviors), I felt like I had no control over my life.
If I didn’t touch a certain amount of lockers on my way down the school halls, I felt like my whole family would die and it would be my fault.
If I didn’t clear my throat an odd number of times, I would be in a horrible accident that would slice my throat open.
All of these behaviors and my constant state of high anxiety enhanced the depression and made it incredibly difficult to go on with my daily routine.
I got into drinking and ecstasy as a hobby, mostly on weekends at raves or punk shows. I fell in with the “alternative” crowd, who I actually have to thank for me not offing myself at that time. The support I got from friends in high school was life-saving.
With my skater, punk, goth, and raver friends, I actually felt like I belonged… to the people that don’t belong. They accepted me for who I was and encouraged me to be true to myself.
After going on medication in my Senior year, the behaviors didn’t call out to me as strongly. They were still there, but I had more control over them.
When I left for college in 2001, I was excited to be free and to start the life I was meant to live! What happened instead was an increase in stress, an incredibly long distance between everyone I felt close to, and a dramatic deepening of my depression.
I gained 30 pounds in college, as well as a ton of unhealthy eating habits.
I moved to LA after graduating and decided to do whatever it took to make it in Hollywood. After all, that’s what I wanted right? A life of fame and fortune… I’d find a way around the drama. I wouldn’t let it affect me.
I had to show everyone that never thought I was worth anything. I had to show myself that I was worth something.
It began well: I would exercise 4 days a week and eat a “healthy” amount of calories. I was working multiple jobs, trying to make rent while lazily hoping I would magically book an acting job.
Every time I started gaining momentum with weight loss, I would grow so sick of my strict eating habits that I would binge and gain it all back again. The more rejections I received, the more I came to expect it every time I went on an audition.
I slowly cycled deeper into depression, getting involved with the wrong kinds of people, getting into the wrong relationships for the wrong reasons, and taking the wrong substances to try to alleviate the pain. Everything I did made my life worse.
I didn’t want this anymore. I didn’t want to feel anything anymore.
I was worthless.
In 2005, my roommate caught me in the kitchen putting a knife to my wrist.
She talked me down and I put the knife away, then called an ex-boyfriend whom I was still very close to. He didn’t know how to help–very few people do in that situation–so he urged me to call a suicide hotline. After talking to a woman there for a while, I calmed down enough to go to bed and get help in the morning.
I remember going to bed thinking that, no matter where I went for help, it wouldn’t matter. I would never be happy. All the times I felt happy had always come back to this.
I was lonely. I was unhealthy. I hung out with people I didn’t like just to be around someone. I was in a job I hated to support a “dream” I was too stubborn to admit I didn’t want anymore.
I could never escape this feeling of worthlessness.
The next day, I did go get help (or I was forced into it by the ER I went to). I went into a program that placed me with a therapist that was a specialist in the issues that I was going through.
This person would be my life line, my savior. She helped me turn around a life that I thought was hopeless.
Over the next few years, it was a roller coaster of recovery. I would go all-out, then fail and recede back to my depression like a child toward a comfortable blanket.
But I kept getting up again.
And everytime I receded was shorter than the last.
I realized that it’s not about escaping your feelings; you can’t escape yourself.
Happiness is about making the most of the situation you’re in. Dealing with what you’re feeling.
Empowering yourself to take responsibility, and rise above your “limitations.”
Make your own life, because no one is going to do it for you.
I fired my friends that encouraged my harmful habits, and made new ones that encouraged positivity and health.
I started changing my perspective with cognitive therapy. I began to recognize my pessimistic thoughts and replaced them with more helpful, positive ones. This took a lot of practice, but it started to become natural to me after a while.
In addition to my self-work, I began exercising regularly, and used it as a time to calm my mind. It became my own form of meditation.
I fell in love with the way working out made me feel: strong and clear-headed. Every workout session strengthened my confidence, and made me start to feel more whole inside.
I began to watch what I ate as well, focusing on whole foods and less processed, chemically junk. Soon, I started seeing amazing results–without killing myself to get them! All-in-all, I lost 30 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of muscle.
I had to share this feeling, this empowerment with others. I had to show people that it IS possible.
So I left the job that made me so unhappy, and started studying to become a personal trainer.
I slowly put down my dream of being an actress, because I didn’t need that validation anymore. I didn’t need anyone to tell me I was worth something. And best of all, I didn’t need to prove it to myself.
You have to have faith in yourself before anyone will put their faith in you.
In 2008, I became a personal trainer and a whole new door of opportunities opened up to me. It’s as if I was meant to be a coach my whole life!
I felt, all on my own, like I had found my place in the world. I love helping people show themselves that they can do it. Those goals that they’ve tried 10+ years to achieve, they were achieving in 6 months!
I worked at a corporate gym until I started getting so busy that I didn’t need to anymore, and became my own boss last year. I now run my own growing company, make my own hours, and earn twice as much for half the hours I was logging in the corporate gym.
But I still wanted to grow! I wanted to help more people overcome their obstacles, with more of an emphasis on personal development rather than just fitness.
The choice to go to The World Domination Summit (brainchild of Chris Guillebeau) in Portland last June was last-minute and unfocused, but it looked like a lot of fun! I had no idea how strong an influence it would become on my life and career.
I made some great friends there that have helped me so much along the way. One in particular has been extremely helpful in my journey as a blogger. After expressing my indeterminate views on my blog, he asked me this:
“What makes you different than everyone else out there?”
I thought about this one for a couple weeks and realized that it’s my experience, and having overcome it that sets me apart. I’ve been to rock bottom, and climbed my way to the top. I am proof that you are never “stuck” in any situation.
I’ve been unhappy with how I look, who I am, and where I am, and then changed it.
But how could I express this to people without telling them the whole truth? I would actually have to put online–for everyone to see–my story.
Having shared my darkest secrets with no more than 5 people, I was scared to death of what readers would think of my history. But from my stages of growth and finding my passion, I also realized that if something scares and excites you at the same time, you’re probably on the brink of something amazing.
So I did it. And because I showed you all who I was and who I am now, the blog has grown into Strong Inside Out as it is now:
Empowering you through fitness and positive action to overcome life’s obstacles.
My blog has added to my joy more than I ever imagined was possible, and fuels my passion for empowering people to achieve their goals.
This, YOU are my passion! You are the reason I spend my free time writing, responding to comments, reaching out to Facebook fans about what they want to read about next. This would all be nonexistent if you weren’t here.
Thank you for making my passion a reality. Thank you for opening yourself up and humbling me with your personal stories. Thank you for sharing with your friends and printing out my posts to hand around the office. Thank you for challenging me with your questions because it makes me better, and encourages me to see a situation from all sides.
This next step, the surprise that I’ve been talking about for weeks now, is a natural progression of the work I love to do.
As of today, I will be accepting applications for online fitness and wellness coaching clients.
Every package–whether it’s a single session or multiple–will include a one-month (two-month with 8 sessions) cardio and strength training program built from scratch specifically for your goals and personality. Included are 45-minute Skype chats with yours truly, nutrition advice and food journal review, and personalized coaching to break down your obstacles. If you’re interested in getting fitter, healthier, and happier, cruise on over to my brand spankin’ new coaching page and check it out!
For this round of coaching, I will be taking on no more than 10 new clients. I will be focusing on a small number of people so that I can give them and my existing training clients all the personalized, focused attention that they deserve. So sign up soon, ’cause it’ll be closed to new applications on January 20th, 2012! [update 3/30/16: coaching packages have changed. Please view my Coaching Page for current packages]
Devoting myself further to my readers has been something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now. I hope to continue to help you all as much as I possibly can through this coaching program!
Besides that surprise, I bet you can see the changes that Strong Inside Out has gone through overnight!
I am so happy with the way the site now looks and I couldn’t have done it without my amazing designer, Scott Medwid at Metta Media. He’s responsible for the header and new logo. He was extremely patient with my picky tastes, and completely understood that Strong Inside Out is my baby and must be perfect!
My web developer, friend and fellow blogger, Alejandro Reyes of EnsoJourney.com, has been a life-saver! He put the whole site together for me and did the little tweaks such as the new email opt-in over in the sidebar to the right. Oh and did I mention he’s a genius with designing book covers?! Yes, he helped me with this next surprise, too!
Now that we’re talking about book covers, let’s talk about my brand new guide, Restart Your Life!
I took the 5 posts that embodied the most crucial actions that I took to turn my life around, and made them look purdy in a 45-page PDF.
It is completely FREE when you subscribe to the email list! Don’t worry: if you’re already a subscriber, you’ll have an email with it attached in your inbox right now! [update 3/30/16: this opt in is no longer available, but even juicier ones are! Check the top of this page for our latest!]
*panting for air*
So those are the surprises, folks! Thank you again for all your support since the launch of Strong Inside Out just less than 6 months ago. I hope you enjoy the changes! And if you do, share using the slidey thing to the left of this post why don’t you? Mama’s been working hard to make the site prettier and she wants everyone to see it! ;p
As always, I’m looking forward to your comments! Write me here and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!
locker photo by Phil Roeder, all other photos are my own