Growing up, I wished for the same thing every year on my birthday. I wished for it on 11:11. I wished for it when I threw a penny in a fountain. I wished for it when I looked up at the stars. I closed my eyes, blew out the candles, and wished I would be beautiful some day.
I started becoming overweight at the age of 10 and that’s when the labels started. Kids cruelly started labeling me as “the fat twin” and labeled my twin sister as “the skinny twin.” Those labels continued throughout our entire schooling, and took a huge hit on my self-esteem. After years, I was hoping to grow numb to all of the harsh criticism – but hearing others compare me constantly to my sister only encouraged me to compare myself more. I started to become my biggest critic.
I began attributing what I looked like to my self-worth. “I am the fat twin. The ugly one. The failure. The less important one. People would like me more if I weighed less. If I weighed less, people wouldn’t treat me this way. If I weighed less, I would be happy and beautiful.” These thoughts ate me alive. This unhealthy mindset also eventually lead me into a dark depression.
In spring 2012, I visited the doctor for my annual check-up. Although I was expecting the simple “eat less and be more active” speech that I heard every year from my pediatrician, this time was different. It wasn’t a simple speech. It was a stern lecture about my future health that I needed to hear. In that moment, something intensely hit me, and I knew I needed a change. I cried the rest of the day, but the day after I began my life-changing fitness journey.
I started by simply counting calories and trying to stay active each day. I would take walks, then power walks, then try running. I fell in love with running. Counting calories and cardio helped me lose the majority of my weight – I lost around sixty pounds!
But as time went on, I became obsessed with the scale, numbers, and having the “perfect” body image. Slowly I went from being overweight to underweight. I continued to lower my calories intake, increase my calorie burn to the point where I was at the gym for hours every day, and refused to eat anything “unclean.” I lost my period, felt constantly hungry, tired, moody, and weak and cried every night before bed about obtaining the “ideal body image.” I slowly developed anorexia and lost myself in the world of disordered eating.
Recovery hasn’t been easy, but finding what works best for me has helped me tremendously. I started counting macros and attending the UCF gym to get out of my comfort zone. Macro counting helped me learn moderation and balance with my food choices, along with making me realize I should be eating a lot more for how much I was exercising. After learning the proper amount of fuel my body needed, I transitioned into intuitive eating, where I learned how to eat based off of listening to my body. I now eat around around 80-90% healthy and treat myself in moderation. Learning to eat based off of my hunger cues (intuitive eating) rather than based off of my emotions or based off of societal standards has helped me the most in recovering from my disordered eating (along with a whole lot of therapy 🙂 ). Recovery was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do – but it taught me the importance of moderation, balance, self-care and self-love.
When it came to exercise, I started to attend group exercise classes at UCF because I wanted to exercise in a fun, positive, non-intimidating environment. I continued to learn the importance of strength training, asked questions to the group exercise instructors, made a ton of friends with the same goals, and had a great time while getting in a killer workout. Over time, I became so interested in the fitness field I applied to the UCF gym, became certified as a group exercise instructor and personal trainer, and started working at the UCF gym as a fitness attendant, group exercise instructor, and certified personal trainer. Becoming educated in exercise science (and educating others on the fitness field) grew into a huge passion of mine.
When I started my fitness journey, I called it a weightloss journey. I wanted nothing more than to lose weight and be skinny. Because back then, I thought that was what would bring me happiness. I began working my tail off every day with the motive of no longer being labeled as the “fat twin.”
But losing 60 pounds didn’t cure me of my depression. Becoming thinner didn’t make me happier. Losing weight didn’t make me more important or beautiful. Changing my mindset did. It wasn’t an overnight process to change my mindset. I had the same thought process for nearly my entire life, so a healthy mindset was something I had to work on every day.
Self-love has opened up a whole new world to me. It has taught me the value of listening to my body. It showed me how much confidence can really liven a person. It revealed the importance of always putting my health first, whether it is physical or mental. When I finally learned to love myself, I realized THAT was the feeling I had been searching for my entire life. Accepting the way I am. Looking in the mirror and smiling. Loving my twin sister for being the “skinny” one instead of being resentful of her. Because she’s freakin’ awesome.
I have truly redeemed myself. But when I say I have redeemed myself, I don’t mean from being once labeled the “fat twin” and now being labeled the “fit twin.” What others see on the outside doesn’t matter to me. I have redeemed myself on the inside. I was once shy, insecure, and thought I was nothing other than a failure. I thought I wasn’t good enough to do half of the things I do today. I constantly hoped and wished for things to be better. I once thought the number on the scale defined my beauty and my self-worth.
But now I know better. I have redeemed my new self from my old self. I go out of my comfort zone to accomplish my goals. I chase after my dreams, even if it scares the crap out of me. I’ve been through hell and back multiple times. But as cliché as it sounds, I am stronger for that. I take a lot of pride in how far I’ve come. Because I dug myself out of a very dark place.
I am healthy. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am capable. I am a fighter.
My name is Rebecca Joan Kennedy. But you can call me Redemptive Rebecca.
Thanks for following me on my journey! 🙂
Down 60 pounds and feeling healthier than ever!
Borderline obese, consistently overate, depressed
Became obsessed with counting every calorie consumed, and burning off every calorie. Became underweight, lost my period, and developed anorexia.
Couldn’t handle starving myself anymore. Continued to try to restrict myself, but ended up binge eating until I was sick frequently. Developed Binge Eating Disorder.
Started tracking macros to learn moderation and balance. Read intuitive eating, started going to therapy, and started practicing self-love. Healthier and happier than ever.