Before I went to college, I was very insecure about how I looked and I never really realized how deeply that affected literally every aspect of my life. I was always second-guessing myself, worrying about what others thought.
But at school, I made friends who were really into fitness, and I started going to the gym sometimes, bolstered by their encouragement.
In my second year, though, I was playing netball (a sport similar to basketball that’s popular in the U.K., where I’m from) when I jarred my back, sending it into spasms. From that moment on, everything was different.
I’d struggle standing for more than 10 minutes. If I went shopping, I’d end up in agony. Even things like getting to the subway and having to stand became too difficult. There were times I’d be sobbing on the floor in pain, with my back muscles in spasms, physically stuck in bed, unable to roll out because the pain was just too much.
When the pain started impacting my studies, I went to see a doctor who took an MRI. He told me I had damage in my spine that might never get better without surgery. Heartbroken and frustrated, I decided to work with a physical therapist first, who gave me exercises to work my core and fix the muscle imbalances and poor posture that was causing my pain.
It did get better, but I was still unhappy with my body and how it functioned.
Eventually, I just hit a wall. I wanted to give up. I’d hit my heaviest weight despite being fairly active, and I was tired of always trying and then quitting workout plans.
Feeling close to defeated, I decided I would give myself one last chance to really try.