Written by Brenna Bandy
“Well, if I only eat half of my lunch then I can have half of this cookie and still be under 800 calories. Perfect.”
I was in 8th grade when I can first remember my struggle with food and self-image. Those 800 calories were not allowed per meal, but per day. You’d think at that rate, I was on the fast track to a severe eating disorder come high school.
Luckily, academics, boys, music and whatever else 12 year old girls are preoccupied with took the wheel and continued to drive my attention for the next ten years.
After college, I was hired with Men’s and Women’s Health magazine as an editor / project manager. Total dream job. Ironically, little did I know working for a health and wellness brand would open Pandora’s box. I became consumed with being as lean as the women that came in for shoots. These women that, most likely, trained full-time, deprived themselves of food and had a production team editing their already washboard abs all to meet our culture’s fucked up standard of beauty.
A standard that I fell victim to.
Food became minimal – only veggies, fruit and egg whites when I finally gave in to hunger. Cardio was long – triples of running accompanied with HIIT. Weights were nonexistent – those things meant muscle, muscle meant bulk. Nope.
My body became frail, I was always irritable, I would wake to a rapid heart rate and my hormones were all out of whack. Workouts were not something I enjoyed doing, but rather something I felt I had to do.
My physical and mental well-being were completely sacrificed for what I wished to see in the mirror.
August 2013, I first stepped foot in P360 to prepare for a Tough Mudder. I’m not sure I would have joined had I been familiar with the programming, but after one workout I was hooked.
The coaches showed genuine care, the members were all so motivating and, for the first time ever, working out was fun.
I would watch other women during class and could not believe the weight they were throwing around – holy shit. It was empowering. These women had such a pleasant confidence about themselves that I was drawn to and that I envied.
I wanted that for myself.
It definitely wasn’t overnight, but in time I stopped simply exercising and began to train with purpose. I set goals aside from being petite, being 118 pounds or being like those cover girls I thought were the definition of fit. Ha! None of those ever made me nearly as proud as walking out of the gym with a new PR. Training transitioned my focus from how my body looked to what my body can do. Becoming stronger. Becoming faster. Becoming a better rounded athlete.