If you have ever struggled with finding *balance* in your life, you know just how easy it is to use media to look at what *everybody else* is doing. If they are doing it, I should be doing it too, right? With a constant stream of media + infinite information out there, it’s beyond easy to follow the trends ++ we all have at some point or another [green juice, smoothie bowls, etc.]. ++ while it’s cool to be ~trendy~, not all fitness trends are healthy ++ in fact, they could even be harmful to your body. One of our VirtCHAARG girls from Chicago, Mary Kessinger, shares her story on finding the balance to live a healthy + happy life.
I am a senior at Loyola University Chicago, majoring in marketing, ++ soon to be a grad student pursuing my MBA in entrepreneurship + marketing. I’ve been dancing since I was 3 + show no sign of stopping. My freshman year of college, I became a group fitness instructor since it was so similar to teaching dance classes. I have always loved movement + my passion for fitness continues to grow daily!
I realize now that I have struggled with disordered eating for several years. I grew up a competitive dancer, dancing for hours daily in bra tops + booty shorts. In high school, I first tried counting calories, but soon realized I ate MORE when I did that. Thankfully, I was naive enough to not care too much about my body.
In college, my eating became what is now known as orthorexic. I was a very picky eater + would only eat *healthy* foods. I would feel extremely guilty if I didn’t + food became a constant fixation. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was at the time, but I was constantly irritable + hostile towards my friends + family.
Unfortunately, it only got worse. I began eating paleo + drinking meal replacement shakes, which led to binge-eating. I would eat *healthy* all day with nearly no carbs, ++ at night, after working out for 1-3 hours, I would binge eat to make up for the extreme calorie deficit.
Still, I was at an all-time low weight. I was constantly sick + injured because my body couldn’t defend itself. More than binge eating, I was also binge drinking. Much of this time in my life was a blur because I was either fatigued or I was blacked out. Eventually, this led to bulimia.
After a couple of months, I realized this was not how I wanted to live, so I began to introduce carbs back into my life + ditched the shakes. Slowly but surely, I began my recovery.
I saw a therapist once + hated it. While it may be best for some, it was not for me. I needed to be surrounded by positivity + support, which CHAARG has provided. I met many other girls with similar struggles as me, ++ they inspired me to #takeCHAARG of my mind + body to become the best person I could be.
CHAARG has helped me to teach myself that it’s not about eating healthy foods — it’s about eating nutritious foods that fuel your body + balancing that with indulgent foods that fuel your soul. CHAARG has helped me love my body at all sizes, especially at a time when it is constantly changing. I have become mentally stronger, ++ as a result, I have been able to become physically stronger.
I don’t think that my disordered eating can over be entirely over. Some days, I have negative thoughts + sometimes I hear something that is triggering, but I have to remember that this too shall pass. I have come so far to give up now. My journey through health, fitness, + balance isn’t over — it has just begun.
With so many quick-fixes being promoted regularly, it is so difficult for people to determine what healthy means for them. We shame ourselves + beat ourselves up to reach some *ideal* level of fitness without realizing the harm we are truly causing to ourselves + our peers.
I don’t want anyone to ever experience an eating disorder, so I strive to change the stigma + change the conversations around health, fitness, + nutrition. 1 in 4 women have an eating disorder, ++ I believe that promoting positive + passionate lifestyles can deter the focus of fitness from aesthetic ideals to sustainable, empowered ideals +++ one day reduce the amount of eating disorders.
I’ve been asked how I stay motivated to workout, even on days I don’t want to. Personally, I never do a workout I don’t enjoy. I strive to only exercise for my enjoyment + not as a punishment. Over time, I have learned to love new workouts. I used to hate running, but I only run outside now [preferably along the lake!] + I’ve learned how to make it my me-time.
I’ve tried counting macros, which I think is good to get *general* ideas on your carb, protein, + fat intake, but I don’t believe in this long-term, especially if you are a perfectionist like me! It’s easy to obsess over food + easy to develop unhealthy eating habits this way.
The more I love the people around me, the more I love myself. By recognizing + appreciating others for their unique beauty + talents, I am able to recognize my own. The strongest women build others up + do not tear them down.
I am #inCHAARG because I empower myself to be the best person I can be. My muscles don’t even begin to show my inner strength ; ). CHAARG has helped me live my happiest + healthiest life by promoting BALANCE! Healthy doesn’t mean dieting + hating your body. To be happy, I must love my body. CHAARG preaches self-care, ++ by being happier myself, I am better able to serve all around me.
I want everyone to know that social media is often a facade. As a marketing student studying social media strategies, I can be the first to tell you that no one is ever completely honest on social media. While I love it, I also hate it + how it encourages everyone to compare themselves to others + their past selves. Focus on you in the present + appreciate yourself. Never apologize for taking up space.
MORE THAN ANYTHING, I WANT EVERYONE TO BE EMPOWERED. I WANT EVERYONE TO FEEL CONFIDENT ENOUGH TO CONQUER THEIR DAILY BATTLES AS WELL AS ACCOMPLISH THEIR WILDEST DREAMS. OUR BIGGEST OBSTACLE IS OFTEN OURSELVES, ++ I STRIVE TO CHALLENGE MYSELF + OTHERS TO PROVE OURSELVES WRONG EVERYDAY. GO OUT THERE + TAKE CHAARG OF YOUR LIFE! <3