About: FitWellFam

FitWellFam or #FitWellFam = Fitness + Wellness + Family.

A lifestyle website dedicated to investigating current wellness trends as seen through the eyes of fitness and nutrition experts, influencers, and myself.

So who am I, you ask?

My journey to better health started when I graduated high-school and began to model full-time. I had gone from eating whatever I wanted (meaning angel food cake for breakfast if I wanted it) to putting myself on a strict, low-fat, low-carb diet. I was told by my agency that in order to do shows I had to lose a few inches around the hips. My agents were super encouraging. They kept telling me that they knew I would have a breakout Fashion Week season if I could just get down to the right measurements.

This is where my “research” began. I discovered the vegetables were my best bet. So, I was off to a good start, except that I began eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables to keep me full. Naturally, this led to extreme bloating. So, my agency sent me off to Los Angeles because I wasn’t “in shape” yet to do shows in New York and Europe.

I spent the first three months out of high school working in LA (and working on my measurements). Thankfully, the lifestyle in California is pretty healthy and active. Even better, clients preferred “fuller” girls so I was able to get some experience on shoots. I hiked every morning up Runyon Canyon before breakfast of plain oatmeal and cinnamon. Between castings, I would grab some frozen yogurt from Yogurtland. (I had yet to learn about the effects of sugar!) And then I would have Whole Foods salad bar for dinner. I never skipped a meal or restricted portion sizes too much, but being in a car all day prevented me from snacking.

When I came back to New York, two months before February shows, my agents were so pleased with my new measurements (31-23-34) that one of them exclaimed, “we should send all our girls to Los Angeles!”

I was ready. Ready for my first few fashion week/month. For those not in fashion, fashion week seems to be a brief moment in the calendar year. However, for me and for other “new faces,” fashion week begins a month before with castings, go sees, and fittings. I remember having 25 castings in one day in the middle of New York winter. I probably lost another 5-10 pounds just running around in the freezing cold. I had oatmeal every morning with peanut butter, but I don’t remember having lunch. For dinner, I would have salad with a non-fat dressing. Not nearly enough fuel for all the activity going on.

But my agents were right, I had a breakout season. I got a Calvin Klein exclusive, but turned it down because I was booking so many other good shows. I went on to do Burberry in London, Marni in Milan, and Valentino in Paris, along with 31 other amazing shows. It was an incredible experience that I am so fortunate to have had. However, I remember being stressed, anxious, cold (all the time), tired, and irritable. Little did I know that a lot of that probably was due to a lack of nutrients in my diet.

After my first fashion week ended, I stayed in Paris for another month or so. By the end of Fashion Week, every model looks like she needs a week long Bahamas vacation. I was so wrapped up in the Fashion Week and constantly being concerned about not being thin enough for the clothes that I didn’t even realize that I was even thinner than most. I remember a casting director measuring me before a fitting, my hips had gone down to 32 inches. I had 36 inch hips not even a year earlier.

By the time I got back to New York, I had lost about 20 pounds. I went to the doctors and learned that I had a low platelet count, meaning my body would not be able to form blood clots if something were to happen, and my organs were shutting down. That was all the information I needed. I wanted to be healthy. I wanted to feel better. I wanted my skin to glow, have shiny, thick hair, and more energy to do activities. Up until this point I was only doing light Pilates and yoga. I wanted to be stronger. I took yoga every day for a year, not realizing that in order to get better meant building muscle, which could only  happen if I ate more food (protein).

For a long time when I was modeling, I had been consisting off of lettuce, cucumbers, mushrooms, egg whites, mustard, and tomatoes. I was absolutely starving myself of essential micro and macro nutrients. I remember I would take 14 almonds on castings with me, because I learned that one almond has 7 calories so 14 almond was about 100 calories. I thought I was being super healthy because almonds had protein and fat. I had no idea how little I knew about nutrition then.

Initially, I gained weight by eating a lot of my favorite foods that I had eliminated, like frozen yogurt, grilled vegetables and fish. Very quickly, I began to notice the changes that a little bit of fat and protein made. I had more energy and my hair stopped falling out.

I modeled for another full year, enduring only the occasional comment on my weight gain. However, I managed to stay around an acceptable hip measurement up until I went to college. In college, I was fearful of gaining the freshman 15 because I still planned to model over the Summer. Moving from New York, where I walked all day, to college in Massachusetts, I was afraid that inactivity would lead to weight gain. So, I began to run 5-10 miles. Every. Single. Day. With that much high impact cardio, I began to eat more carbohydrates because my body was craving it. If I didn’t fuel properly, I would fall asleep on my bed while studying.

I had gained some weight back, but I didn’t exactly feel my best in college. I wasn’t listening to my body because I was following what everyone else was doing, which involved eating until I was overly full and uncomfortable. On the weekends I would drink cheap vodka and Crystal Light, which now makes me sick just thinking about.

I spent my last year of college in New York and got back into the rhythm of walking and choosing my own meals. But I was also in a relationship at this time, so I would compromise what made me feel my best in order to enjoy things with my boyfriend. I ate pizza often, drank wine throughout the week, and slept terribly. In no way do I blame the person I was with, what I put into my mouth and the choices I make are entirely my own. But I had yet to define what made me feel my best, so I was mostly discovering what made me feel my worst.

At the end of that relationship, I began to focus on myself a lot more. I was about to graduate college and go into the real world. I wanted to feel confident and strong. I started to do BBG, a popular workout program that has a cult following on social media, and I began to see the mental benefits of working out. The confidence I gained from accomplishing a hard workout carried over into my everyday. I tried to eat in a way that complimented my workouts. I ate more protein and more often.

Today, I feel better than I ever have. I no longer have a restrictive view on food, but rather I enjoy all the foods that make me energized and happy. I began researching nutrition about eight years ago, when I started modeling, and it is a never ending education. There is new information everyday. And personally, I love knowing all the health benefits of certain foods. I find it amplifies my experience knowing that I am eating nourishing, sustainable, and healthful foods. I eat when I am hungry and don’t eat when I’m not! I eat plant-based throughout the weak and more fish or chicken on the weekends. I stay away from sugar for the most part, but I love an occasional affogato for dessert or some wine. I’ve learned balance and the sense of calm that comes with that no-stress approach.

So, why do you care about my story? It is simply to illustrate that personal health is a journey. No one just arrives at feeling their best, they work towards it. I am now almost two years out of college pursuing a Master’s in nutrition to become a Registered Dietician. I was an Art History major when I graduated college, but two months out of college I realized my greater passion for health and wellness. I learned so much through my own journey that I can’t help but want to share that information with others. I want to learn as much as I can through self-experimentation and scientific studies, so that I can guide others on what they can do to feel better physically (and mentally).

As I continue my studies, I wanted to create a blog about my everyday struggles, growth, and motivations. I still believe that I have a lot to learn and I want to share that new information with whoever wants to listen.

Wellness has become such an umbrella term for nutrition, fitness, and health– broad concepts that most individuals probably think about daily, but few make it their job to explore. That’s where FitWellFam comes in.

I’ll be sharing easy-to-make healthy recipes and opinions on recent wellness news. I will provide candid advice and critical opinions on current health news and trending topics, but also continue to share my journey to better health. Because we are all on individual paths, but we are also all in it together.

x Lydia

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