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During my youth I was an athletic individual. In high school I played soccer, softball, and field hockey. I even played D-1 soccer my first two years of college! My struggle with obesity hadn’t started until I was 20. I vividly remember turning 21 years old: weighing 220 pounds, size 22, drinking like a fish.

Drinking leads to overeating, so my years of athleticism went straight out the door. I became addicted to fast food. As a student in college, I would always eat on the go. Every meal was super-sized and on top of that, I’d order an extra item to eat on my way home. It got to the point that I was actually getting excited to plan out what I was going to eat for the rest of my day. I struggled with insecurities and confidence, which led to emotional binge eating, with junk food as my only comfort.

I struggled with the added weight for 13 plus years, being a yo-yo dieter and trying every new trend that came around. I wanted to lose weight fast, but with little exercise and minimal effort. Fasting, starvation, purging, water diet, detox pills, laxatives… I attempted it all. Food was my anti-depressant, while drinking came with flat-out everything: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I just couldn’t change my ways.

I allowed this weight to control my life and it completely took over my health, to the point where in my late 20s I was diagnosed with diabetes. That led to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. You’d think I would’ve done something about it but, no, I did nothing. I took my prescribed medication and became another statistic in society. In 2012, my doctor found a lump in my throat during a routine check-up, following a prior car accident. Long story short, I was diagnosed with throat cancer. Reality hit me with all the subtlety of a jackhammer. At age 32, I knew I was too young to die. So, on July 1st, 2013, I began my journey.

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Three days later, I was spending the 4th of July in a gym instead of drinking and partying with friends. Giving up my old habits and lifestyle quite literally saved my life. Following surgery and treatment, I made a promise to myself never to forget that I am a survivor. Not only have I beaten cancer, I also no longer have diabetes, high blood pressure, or high cholesterol. In fact, I’ve cut 21 percent body fat and dropped more than 50 pounds!

Everyone’s first question is about how I actually did it. Well, the first thing I did was hire a coach, someone who would be able to guide me with nutrition and an exercise regimen. I believe you need guidance, accountability, and even that kind of financial commitment to really get you buckling down. At first the process seemed overwhelming, but I took it one step at a time.

Nutrition was at the center of my success so I had to make it a priority. I didn’t go on a shopping spree to spend hundreds of dollars on supplements. Instead, I started off with the basics and worked with my coach. Quest Bars have been a huge part of my success. When it comes to protein bars, don’t think you have to sacrifice great taste for high protein. Having protein options that are guilt-free and enjoyable definitely helped set me up for success. The Quest Cookies & Cream protein bar is one of my favorites, as well as Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Great for an on-the-go pre – or post-workout meal, it’s the bar I recommend to my clients!

It’s unfortunate that it took a diagnosis as bold as cancer to finally pull me out of my addictions, but I believe all things happen for a reason. My journey to become a healthier and better version of myself has inspired me to share my experience with the world. It is my passion to encourage, educate, and empower other women to make a stand and take control of their health and wellness. The journey toward living a healthy lifestyle is not always roses and dandelions. You will have good and bad days. You will have failures and triumphs. The changes you want to achieve will not happen overnight, but with consistency, dedication, and the right support system, you CAN achieve that ultimate goal. Remember, it’s not about being fit, athletic, or even rocking a 6-pack. It’s about taking care of your body, because it’s the only one you get!

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