Human Connection – Why it Created & Healed my Eating Disorder

​It’s not often I like to talk about my story. Maybe it’s because I’m ashamed of it, or because I don’t like the attention, but a lot of times, I think it’s because I often wish I could forget about it, or hide it from my life now. But I’ve decided I am going to work on tackling my fears, and start connecting to more people so what better way to do that, than to share my story.

A chubby kid growing up, I was always happy, always social, always easy –going and surrounded by friends. Enter middle school and that all changed. I started to become more aware of my body. It wasn’t quite as thin as my friends. I couldn’t just eat whatever I wanted like my sister. I couldn’t shop in the cool stores like everyone else. I started to disconnect a bit from my “cool” peers.

Flash forward to high school, quite possibly the worst 4 years of my life. I suddenly felt un-cool and unpopular. My group of friends grew smaller and I never quite felt like I fit in. I didn’t play sports and I started to bury myself in my dance classes. Dance for me was the one time, I felt confident. I was good at something. People liked me there. Some maybe even looked up to me.

As I became more and more self-conscious I began to hide more and more in school. I would go home during free periods, would skip hanging out with friends on the weekend and felt miserable hiding in sweatshirts.

Enter, a diet that worked. After tons of failed diets, and attempts at weight loss, I finally started to figure things out. Weight fell off of me and I finally started to “get skinny” – hooray! One would think this was all I needed to be social and have the life of my dreams, but boy was I wrong.

I spent hours planning my food every week. Started to track and count every calorie I consumed. Skipped nights out with friends in order to stay in and eat my allotted meals. I buried myself in dance classes, and despite my body aching every morning, kept slowly taking calories out of my diet. I had the body I had loved and yet my personality never felt smaller. I was miserable. At that point, I had hardly any friends left.

Danielle Dance 1

I still have vivid memories of going home on free periods because I didn’t want to be around people. I would sit in my room at home, with my space heater on because I was freezing all the time. I would sip on sparkling water to fill up my stomach, and watch cooking shows on television. If that’s not irony, I don’t know what is.

My eating, food, and weight took over. As I got close to high school graduation, I was honestly excited. I was ready to break away from the school I hated and finally start over. I went to college for dance and suddenly realized that I was a small fish in a big pond. Where dance had once been the key piece of my self-love, it lost that magic in college.

I was no longer the best, brightest or strongest. Suddenly I was the least experienced, the beginner and I turned to my diet to cope. So afraid of regaining the weight I had once lost, I continued to obsess over food. I’m pretty sure I ate in the dining hall a total of 5 times, my freshman year. The first fight I ever got in with my new group of friends was because they were worried that I never ate.

Finally I had friends and people who cared about me and here I was pushing them away because of my eating disorder.

Then I met Christina. This was the first time, I found someone who understood what I was going through. She understood the anxiety and stress that food and my weight caused me. She saw me cry and agonize over my body and my eating disorder and it actually felt pretty good to share it with her.

I’ll never forget the first time I 100% opened up to her about this. Our nutrition class watched the documentary Thin in class. I was so upset by what I saw. Lifeless women trapped in their eating disorders, unable to live their lives. Back in our dorm room I burst into tears. Talking to my two roommates, one of whom was Christina, about my struggle, I finally felt like someone got it.

n195500862_30184574_3214

I would like to say that this was my turning point, I’ve honestly never admitted it but I truly believe this was where my story changed. This was when I realized I wasn’t alone. Someone got me. Someone had been where I had been and wasn’t any more. I felt a connection I never had before.

Fast forward a couple years, as I struggled to recover from my eating disorder and not eating, I sprung in the other direction. Where I once had total control over my food, I now felt like I had none. I was hungry all the time and couldn’t make it through a week on a diet. My weight started to rise and my body insecurities came flooding back. I felt so ashamed that I couldn’t get it together. I didn’t want anyone to know why I was struggling. I was hungry constantly and could never get full.

Suddenly I felt like the 11 year old me again; the girl who didn’t want anyone to see me eating because I felt like I didn’t deserve to at my current weight.

I moved to New York after college and broke down. I was trying to dance. Trying to heal, and had absolutely no confidence or belief in myself. As you can guess, this didn’t end well and I quickly ended up back home. The next few years continued to be a roller coaster. I would go through phases where I’d eat well, then struggle with food, then feel bad about myself, and then try to diet. I continued to try diets, but my weight stayed the same.

I worked with therapists, coaches, and nutritionists, anyone who promised they could heal me. Dance slowly phased out of my life and something new came in. CrossFit. For me Crossfit was never about fitness. It was so much more than that. For the first time in a long time, I learned what it meant to proud of my body. To feel good about what I could do. I suddenly had a circle of friends again. I was stronger, more confident than ever before. And then I switched CrossFit gyms.

I attended a CrossFit where a lot of people from my high school went. Suddenly I got the odd feeling I was back in high school. I was self-conscious, undeserving of food, and felt like I needed to diet. The next couple years were filled with struggle and a lot of disappoint. I had a better hold on my eating, yet still struggled with shameful moments of overeating and then needing to compensate with under eating. I continually took breaks from Crossfit feeling like I needed to get away from the “high school drama” that let’s be real, I myself was creating.

DaniellePrestejohn-1077ECrop

Never good enough, never fit enough, never thin enough, I told myself over and over again. At the time though, I felt “healed” from my eating disorder. Sure I struggled with confidence but food wasn’t a huge issue for me anymore, I tried to get my health coaching business running yet struggled again and believed it must have been because I was not good enough.

Then this past November I randomly applied for a personal training job. It was as if the pieces of the puzzle fell together. My eating started to feel easy again, I started working at a job I really enjoyed and finally I felt good enough again. I was growing my nutrition business doing things I loved and even lost a little. This is my success story I thought. Not quite.

I still had gremlins in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough. Still struggled sticking to my diet, and just couldn’t get past the point of limiting my own success. Then I came across another opportunity to grow my nutrition business. I received a random Facebook message from someone worked with Beachbody. No way I thought, not for me and politely turned him down. A month or so later I heard back from him, still trying. I of course, was too polite to shoot him down so listened to a webinar. Not for me I thought. I don’t sell.

After starting my training job, I loved life, I had no more need to desperately grow my nutrition business, my weight was down, and it was the holidays. A couple days after Christmas, I got a message from my Beachbody friend again. What did he want with me? He talked to me about posting on Facebook to build an audience. Let’s be real, me and my lack of confidence meant pictures and me did not get along. To appease him, I started posting, and suddenly realized that people actually listened.

Did this mean people maybe actually liked me? I continued posting on Facebook and eventually let him talk me into signing up as a coach. Why not? I figured it would be a good addition for my business but not really for me.

Danielle-Prestejohn-8

A couple months in, I was made a last minute captain for a challenge group. Again, I figured why not, I could help other people of course; that I am good at; helping myself, not so much. Our challenge groups grew and naturally I felt comfortable supporting everyone else, but still got squeamish about posting. A workout picture? No way it was going to be of me; I’d show them my sneakers. But then I started to get more and more support. People were complimenting me, supporting me. Did they actually like me?

As I got more comfortable, I started posting more and more. I even built up the courage to share a transformation picture on Facebook after I had lost some weight. Things were going great. My confidence was growing a bit and I felt awesome. But then, because I could never be happy for too long, I decide to sabotage myself.

My “diet” I had been attempting stopped working. I moved and started to get a little more stressed again. I joined a new CrossFit that I loved but again, started to worry what people thought of me. And then my story changed, I didn’t let this break me, as I would have in the past. I continued posting in my challenge groups, continued to feel a part of something. Continued to share my story and I realized what I was lacking all these years. Human connection.

I no longer diet, count calories, macros or points.

I workout when I want to and not when I don’t.

I am working on not caring quite so much about what others think of me.

I am learning to say no.

I am putting myself first and mapping out my future to success.

I am learning to depend on myself, like myself, and have confidence and faith in myself.

I am always going to be a work in progress but I think we all are. I am happy to say my eating disorder thoughts are almost gone. I am eating to fuel my body and not to lose weight and am starting to realize that if someone doesn’t like me solely for the way I look, I probably don’t want to be friends with them anyway ;)

And guess what. That is my transformation. My transformation has nothing to do with the scale. My transformation has to do with connection. I am connected to myself now. I know how to connect and support others. And now I’m so excited to share my story with other people. To help other people connect and not feel so alone.

Danielle-Prestejohn-51

P.S. I am still looking for my 5 ladies to commit to helping for the month of January. If you’d like to be one of the 5 who I mentor through a fitness program, custom meal plan, and more, please apply here.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Here is a super simple recipe for chocolate peppermint “cookies”

IMG_5762

Ingredients:

  • 1 Chocolate Brownie Quest Bar
  • Coconut cooking spray
  • 1 tsp. Peppermint sprinkles

Directions: 

  1. Spray a microwave safe plate with coconut oil cooking spray and heat your quest bar 10-20 seconds.
  2. Slice the bar into 6-8 pieces and roll into “cookies”.
  3. Microwave for 30 seconds longer, or put in a toaster oven for 1-2 minutes at 350 degrees.
  4. Top with peppermint sprinkles.

IMG_5758

I Need Your Help!

I am seeking amazing, positive, women who are ready to put in some serious work.

You lack confidence in your body, but you are ready to do SOMETHING about it.

You are a woman who craves a change, but doesn’t quite know how to get there.

 You see food as the “enemy” and can’t seem to lose weight no matter how hard you’ve tried.

You feel like you have been on a diet f-o-r-e-v-e-r because you just can’t seem to lose weight.

Why am I looking for ladies like this?

Because I used to be one of them.

Are you someone who feels like you’re doing everything right, but just can’t seem to lose the weight? Do you struggle with confidence and want to build a better body image? Do you crave a healthy lifestyle but sometimes struggle with getting in your workouts, or making healthy food choices?

Then you have to get in my January Support Group.

This past year has been somewhat of a whirlwind. I went from working as a full time personal trainer to a part time trainer, working from home, and owning my own business. Not only that but over the past year, I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to help a ton of people learn to enjoy fitness, get healthy, and find sanity with food and their bodies.

With all of this going on, something crazy happened.

I found peace with my OWN body. I’ve never felt so confident in my own skin, so ready to grow, so excited about life before. I wake up everyday inspired to workout, motivated to eat good food, and fall asleep at night, creating new ideas, crafting my vision, and dreaming big. I’m not sharing this to brag, I’m sharing it because I want you to know that it’s possible for you too.

Here is my before and after…

IMG_5841

A year ago I was honestly struggling. I was insecure in my own skin, terrified of what others thought about me, and just plain unexcited with life.

I know how it feels to be down on your body.

I know what it’s like to look in the mirror and sigh.

I know the paralyzing feeling of wanting to make a change, but being unable to do anything.

I want to help you make YOU a priority. I am seeking women who want to create a life that they love. I want to help you figure out what exactly your passion is and how to get it. How to live a life greater than you ever thought possible, all by putting your health in good hands.

I am committed to helping 3-5 women a month for the year of 2015. I will work with these women exclusively for 21 days. We will select a fitness program at your level, I will craft a personalized meal plan just for you, and you will receive my full support, love, and attention.

We will join together in a group on Facebook and work as a team to reach your goals. I am kicking things off on January 5th with my very first test group.

I will be handpicking my first 5 participants so the sooner you apply the better.

We are starting on JANUARY 5th… last day to get committed is DECEMBER 26th.. so lets get you all set up!

If you want to be considered for one of my spots please apply here

Remember this is a lifestyle, not a diet!  It’s important to have the best of both worlds.

So, it all sounds fabulous but what exactly is involved?

Requirements:

  1. You’ve got to INVEST in yourself and at least meet me halfway! Please be willing to commit to checking in with me daily, participating in the group and just giving it everything you’ve got.
  1. I’m only selecting 5 girls! I want to keep this small so I can devote a lot of time and support to YOU!
  1. You have to invest in a fitness program and shakeology for access to the group. While I wish I could I offer this for free….it’s not quite yet.
  1. The challenge is 21 days and if you stay committed, we will talk about the next step!
  1. USA and Canada only and sorry but it’s only for non-coaches.

In exchange you will get my 100% attention for 21 Days. Together we will get you through 21 days of a fitness program, a healthy meal plan set up that you can follow for life, my tips, tricks, and recipes to achieve all of your goals, support and motivation from a group, and so much more.

I can’t wait for you to join me. Again, if you are interested, head here and apply!