November Transformation of the Month-Mary Sandberg
November Transformation of the Month-Mary Sandberg
When we say fitness is a journey not a destination we mean it. Our November transformation Mary Sandberg began her journey 25 years ago. As you will ready Mary’s journey started out on a rough patch. Her journey started not because she wanted to be healthy; instead she wanted to look a certain way. A way that was neither sustainable nor healthy. Mary choose a dangerous path that started with an eating disorder at a young age which lead to yo-yo dieting and dangerous “lose fat fast” tactics as an adult. After 25 years on a dangerous journey she changed her bad habits, discovered herself, the love of her life, the true purpose of health and fitness along with the discovery of Fitastic. Mary is another success story from our Fitastic family. I will be honest and tell you that when I read Mary’s story it hit me right in the gut. I read her pain along with her eventual triumph. Mary has written her brave story in her own words accompanied with a set of interview questions to dive deeper into Mary’s fitness journey. Without further delay here is our Transformation of the Month, Mary Sandberg.
“My 25 year battle with my eating disorder, and finally at 37 I finally see me, a beautiful woman.
I’m a product of a “broken Home” raised by an ill single mom, in low income housing on the border of an Upper-class town. There was no father in my life, and I’ve been picked on, sexually assaulted, molested and raped all before the age of 16, most before the age of 10. All of these things compiled on a child that was broken from a missing dad and being picked on for not having all of the good things so many of the kids I went to school with had made for a warped sense of myself and not wanting to give the kids anything else to pick on me for.
It started in 6th grade, I started skipping meals. I didn’t eat breakfast, and then skipped lunch. This was easy to do because let’s face it at that age no one pays attention to what or if anyone is eating. At dinner time I would talk about not feeling well or eat very little. I would go days with taking in no more than a couple hundred calories if even that. I slid through Junior high always hungry but skinny, barely passing my classes. The first day of my freshman I met a junior who was smoking. She was new to the school and area and had no clue how not accepted I had become by everyone and decided to talk to me. She was what one would call a “burnout”. I remember asking her why she smoked and her stating it “helped curb her hunger and keep her thin”. After spending three years always being hungry but not wanting to eat because I wanted to be thin, I figured this was the perfect solution. At the end of my freshman year my grandmother passed away, this destroyed me and sent me into a downward spiral more then I already was. My total disregard for myself, my lack of any self-worth combined with all of the things I had been keeping buried for so many years that had been done to me caused me to try multiple times at killing myself and caused blackout periods.
After multiple failed attempts my mother checked me into the adolescent unit in a hospital in Aurora to obtain some help. I figured out how to play their game, I did there therapy said what they wanted me to say, ate their meals, and got a little bit of help for some of the demons I was battling. Yet I kept my eating disorder hidden. I saw what they did to the girls there with eating disorders. They were made to eat these huge meals and drink those awful shakes, not something I was going to do. All though I was underweight 5’4 at around 105 pounds, the doctors all credited my thin stature to the lack of not eating do to all of my emotional issues and told my mom that it would change now that I was getting help for those issues.
I finished my sophomore year flying under my mother’s radar by eating a little dinner every night and because she was getting starting a new life with my soon to be step dad. They were talking about houses and weddings and combining our family. We moved between before my junior year. I was still so engulfed in maintaining my skinny frame it didn’t matter that I was no longer the “white trash” from the “ghetto”. It didn’t matter that no one at the school knew me as that. That it was a fresh started and I could just be me. I was still the broken girl with a warped sense of self that would never give them something else to pick on me about. I maintained my barely eating, and now I was in with a new group of “burnouts” and had two parents I could swipe smokes “curb the hunger”.
My senior year I had connected with a guy (who later became my husband) that was not good for me. I got through HS and got a job, and realized I could eat and then pop a few water weight pills, and a laxative with each meal and I could maintain my semi thin figure I was 5’7 around 140 and was insistent I wouldn’t gain any weight. When my mother put me out of the house at 20 again my world got rocked and I was now living with the HS sweetheart that was so toxic and bringing me down further I flipped and became an emotional eater. I would gorge myself on junk food and make myself sick from not eating for days and then binging. I went from being thin at 140 pounds at 19 to weighing 225 pounds by the time I was 21. Between becoming and emotional eater and the fact that I was finally eating all the things I had deprived myself of for so many years I spiraled and was a size 22 at just shy of 230 pounds by the time I was 25. When we decided to get married at 25 I decided I was going to get thin for my wedding and went back to my old ways of Water weight pills, laxatives, and there was this new thing called Ephedra, between those 3 things and barely eating I lost 30 pounds in a month, and by the time I got married I was right around the 160 pound mark.
Shortly after we married we moved to Texas, between being alone, scared and bored, I reverted back to binge emotional eating and I was back up to 180 pounds. At 27 we bought our first home and decided to start a family, I was insistent that I wasn’t going to be fat and get pregnant so I reverted back to water pills and Laxatives to lose the weight because by this time ephedra had been taken off of the US market for causing heart issue. I gave birth to my son at 28, weighing again 225 pounds but semi justified it as I was pregnant, but vowed I would lose the weight. Shortly after giving birth to my son I knew my marriage was done, I was going to be alone and starting over I had to start losing weight. Within days of getting home I started on water weight pills, I would not start my life alone as Fat. It was a hard battle and by the time I told my ex I was done (New Year’s eve of 2006) I had gotten down to 195 pounds. In 2007 I turned 30 and I was determined I wasn’t going to be fat on my 30th birthday so again I amped up the pills and missing of meals and when I turned 30 I weighed 171 pounds.
I met Cole in at the end of 20017, and within months knew he was who I wanted to spend my life with. In 2008 my son became ill, with Bipolar disorder (later on I learned it was a misdiagnosis) and I quit my job and was now a full time stay at home mom. With trying to get my son the help he needed, fighting an ex that wasn’t paying what he needed to, was no help with our son, had a boyfriend that traveled A LOT for work that I was afraid was going to leave at any point, the battles he had with his ex-wife two kids that hated me I reverted to emotional eating again. In 2009 I ballooned up again to 215 pounds, my emotional eating was out of control. Even with all the weight I had put on, the wonderful man that I was living with still saw me as beautiful, and proposed. Again I started with the “I can’t be fat and get married”. At 33 I started with water weight pills and laxatives and skipping meals. I got down to 195 pounds but stalled out, being over 30 this time around my body was fighting me. I was stuck and couldn’t get below that mark. I relinquished myself to the fact that I was going to be “curvy” and battled to maintain that 195 pounds. If my weight increased some I would do a week or so of pills to drop what I had put on.
In 2012 I was able to get a trainer to come to the house once a week. It helped a little and I was finally able to get down to 180, but my eating was still not a priority. My mind set was I am 35, a mother of 3, I’m not supposed to be thin, I am happy I am secure and loved I will ok with what I am. Until that terrible conversation with my daughter in February of 2013. After realizing my step-daughter was starting down a path of an eating disorder at 7 I decided to talk to her about it. When I asked her why my good eater had all of the sudden become a picky eater she told me “because mom said if I continue to eat like I Do I will end up fat like you”. I was destroyed, I was a size 16 roughly 180 pounds I didn’t see myself as fat, but to my daughter I was. I decided I was not going to add to the issues that were already being caused for her, I would be a good role model and teach her how to be healthy.
I spent all last spring walking every day, doing some minor strength training and was seeing no real weight change but I was feeling good and healthy, I had slightly changed my eating and could see my daughter changing a little as well. I knew it was going to be a slow process and was in it for the long haul. In June I was given a cancer diagnosis (something completely Curable with surgery) and had surgery set for Sept 9th. Fear crept in of gaining all the weight back with the fear of being banned from doing anything strenuous for a period of time. In November with only gaining 3 pounds while being laid up, I was given the all clear and hit the Gym.
I was determined to hit a set goal by the end of 2014. I have spent all of 2014 hitting it hard, tweaking my work out adapting my eating, realizing I have to eat to change my health and body. Reeducating myself and in the process educating and helping my daughter. Every day with some direction from a friend and him not knowing just how important of a battle this was to me and how much he was helping me, he encouraged me and pushed me harder then I knew I could go. I’ve made it to my goal, 165 pounds (some days less some days more). I can honestly say I did it the healthy way. No pills no starving myself and skipping meals. I have busted my butt, worked out 4-7 times a week, changed my eating and pushed hard. I’ve had great support, some knowledge from some people, done a lot of research on healthy eating, a lot of soul searching. For the first time in 25 years I can say I am a healthy weight, and have a healthy food mindset. All because I feared the path my step daughter was headed down and that I was going to be a better role model for her.”
I told you; right in the gut. It takes bravery and good sense of self to share a struggle like this with the world.
Where did the pressure come from not to be a fat mom or a fat bride? Every milestone if your life you made about your weight. Why was that?
Honestly, for as shallow as this will sound it was mainly because of the pictures I wasn’t a fat kid so as an adult I have always shied away from pictures when my weight has increased. I didn’t want t0 be in any of the pictures with my son, I didn’t want to not take pictures at my own wedding because of my weight. I didn’t want to look back at those times and see a big me, I wanted to see the memory the happiness, the experience. I didn’t want to avoid the pictures and have my child ask where was I during that, how come I wasn’t there I’m not in any of the pictures later in life.
What was the wake up to break the cycle and reach your goal this time without diet pills and skipping meals?
I really think it was the fact that I had a major health scare last year combined with the need to be a role model for my daughter completely.. The fact that I battled cancer and had to undergo surgery to remove it made me realize I needed to make some very serious changes completely in my life coupled with the fact that I couldn’t be hypocritical with my daughter on living a healthy life. I hated as a child when my parent said “do as I say, not as I do”, I’ve really tried to not be that parent.
Why do you want to share this story?
Do you think other Mothers could learn from it? I’m sure there are other women, and girls out there that battle some form of this demon. They think they are alone and no one understands what it feels like. I think as women we tend to tear each other down to make ourselves feel better at times instead of picking each other up and supporting each other, if one person gets comfort from this and it helps them move forward to make themselves better than it was worth sharing it. By admitting it and putting it out there as well it is also very hard to revert back to those ways, all of the important people in my life now know. I have more support to battle this and hit all my goals then I ever did before. Learn from it, maybe not, take strength to know they are not alone, yes. If they do learn from it, I hope it is to see the signs of an eating disorder if they never did have any issues themselves.
How do you plan to continue to teach your step daughter about living a healthy and positive lifestyle?
We talk about healthy eating A LOT in our house. we make my eating habit changes as well as my work outs common conversation, she helps choose dinners and is directed to healthier choices when she makes poor ones and is explained why the choice is better. We talk about the importance of being active and turning off the TV and video Games. All though i only have a small amount of time with her, I do the best i can in the time i have. I also lead by example i eat very healthy and she sees me always going.
How has the Fitastic community and Fitastic programming helped you in your journey?
How have they helped, that’s a question that would take pages to answer! Steve has been my sounding board for changing my eating habits and figuring out how to tweak my work outs prior to the online work out programs. He has ALWAYS been positive and supportive. Always keeping me motivated, commenting on the changes he sees in me and helping push me to the next level. Not only and wealth of information on exercise but nutritional info is always available through him as well. As I’ve gotten further into it, I’ve connected with his Wife (Cathi) and Will, and some of the other Fitastic members. It is so much easier when you have a support group behind you helping keep you motivated. The website has always been a benefit, the blogs and articles have had some very educational information. I’ve used the personal work out builder and videos to find and try out new exercises. I used the Strength training program for 3 months and the benefits I saw from that were great, and I wanted to step up the burn a bit. I’m now into week 2 of the Adipose incinerate and love the push I get out of it. The programs are constantly changing pushing your limits and challenging you; the fact that I log in and it tells me which exercises, the sets, reps and weights make the “work” part of it gone. I always had a problem with coming up with the work outs and would get bored and tired of doing the same things and would give up.
Mary, thank you for sharing your story with our Fitastic community; I know I can speak for all of us when I say how proud we all are of you. You have overcome so many different obstacles to find yourself in a happy and healthy place. Mary you’re an amazing role model for your daughter. I can also say with confidence that you’re an amazing role model for everyone in the Fitastic community as well. Congratulations Mary on being named our November Transformation of the Month, it is well deserved.
Wild Will Wilson (W3)
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