Natalie is a freshman at Kent State University. She loves traveling, Zumba, and breakfast foods. When she first joined CHAARG, she had a terrible relationship with exercise and food, but after undergoing treatment for Anorexia Nervosa, she has found her true self #inCHAARG and has fallen in love with her life. Read on for her story —
When people have a near death experience, their outlook on life changes; at least it changed for me. I struggled with an eating disorder for 3 years and my recovery journey has been a roller coaster. I have had extremely restrictive phases, binging phases, and relapses. To have an eating disorder, you have to have the genetic predisposition for it. Although I wish this had not happened, I’m glad it did because I have learned what truly matters in life.
Because of my eating disorder, I had to come home from Ohio State University. I had lost everything, the few friends I had made, my education, and my health. I was extremely isolated, then I met Anna Ferrato, the Kent State CHAARG Ambassador. She sweetly invited me to join CHAARG. With her description being “freeing girls from the elliptical,” my exact thoughts were, “What?! Why would you want to be free of the elliptical?” I honestly felt that ellipticals were what you needed to do to be fit. I decided to try CHAARG, so I went to the formal by myself and ended up falling in love. These girls accepted me even though they had no idea who I was.
Ecstatic to get involved, I signed up for the summer Bolt Babes. But unfortunately, I was still extremely sick at this point. I did not recognize myself in the mirror — I was so thin it was disgusting. My parents admitted me to the Emily Program for Anorexia Nervosa. On top of having to eat all kinds of foods, I wasn’t allowed to work out for months. Exercise had always been a part of my identity, but my relationship with exercise had become extremely unhealthy. I felt terrible about myself and what I had become. I was at the Emily Program for about 5 months, and even now I continue to go for outpatient therapy.
In order to recover fully, I had to gain a certain amount of weight which drove me crazy. I didn’t want to see anyone because I thought I was extremely fat, but I didn’t want to lose the friends I had made at CHAARG. I refused to be controlled by my weight and I pushed myself to go and realized that working out is so much more than just burning calories. Thankfully, CHAARG girls are the sweetest people on earth and I didn’t have to worry about anyone judging me.
I now have a new outlook on life. Eating disorders are extremely dangerous, and I was at the point where my life could have been taken from me at any moment. I am so lucky I have been given a second chance, and with this second chance I have every intention of making absolutely wonderful. Every day is truly a blessing and all we have control of is our life, so fall in love with it. I have fallen in love with my life — I have taken the time to explore myself through new workouts (thanks CHAARG!), new people (CHAARG again!) and new foods (yes CHAARG again, featuring Cheesecake Factory runs!).
It has truly been a journey and I am so blessed that I am in CHAARG of my life again and #inCHAARG.
“Love the life you live, because you have a life to love.”
#CHAARGJourney highlights our members’ amazing journeys through CHAARG — physically, mentally, emotionally. You can continue to follow Natalie’s CHAARG Journey on Instagram or her blog. We love you, Natalie, ++ are so thankful to have you a part of the CHAARG Community!