From clean eating to orthorexia to bodybuilding to flexible dieting to occasional blogger to recipe developer to powerlifting to spinal disease to autoimmunity to full time lifestyle blogger and everything in between, this blog serves as my personal journal and life. It is filled with my food, my thoughts, my beliefs, my determination, my pain, and my life.
Hello new friend and welcome to my blog! I’m so thankful that in this great big world, you were able to find me here. My name is Corina and I would love to share my fitness and health story with you. It’s not a very long one, but seems like an entire lifetime that has been tightly packed with twists and turns. My story is very different from nearly every other fitness & lifestyle blogger you will come across and it all began in 2013. Out of complete and utter vanity I decided that I was tired of being “skinny fat”. My husband and I had just planned and booked our annual Hawaii trip and that year I was determined to step on that beach more confident about my body than I ever had.
But don’t get me wrong here. At the age of 34 I had never struggled with weight issues, never done a traditional diet where calories were restricted, barely ever known my weight because I never owned a scale, never struggled with poor body image, and never had a disordered relationship with food. Like I said, pretty different than most women in general and a far different background story that other fitness & health bloggers. However, four months prior to our Hawaiian departure I decided that I was tired of just being “skinny fat”… you know what that looks like right? Not skinny, not fat, just kinda ‘blah’ with zero shape or “tone” where I looked decent in clothes but without clothes or in a bikini… well, it wasn’t exactly awesome or anything. This trip would be different though. This time I wanted to feel ‘comfortable’ in a bathing suit. I didn’t want to have to constantly look down at my stomach and see the ‘blah’.
So I decided to jump on the “clean eating” train and also used the Insanity program as my new regular workouts. I cut out nearly all packaged foods, rarely ate out, and was convinced that eating anything processed would surely equate to an early death for myself. Yeah, I was that “clean eater”. My obsession with eating “clean” foods began to quickly get out of hand. I found myself lecturing friends and family about how this food was bad for you and how that would cause disease. My “clean” food obsession landed me right smack dab in the middle of a fairly unknown eating disorder called orthorexia. I was certainly NO fun to be around when food was around or there were any discussions about eating.
The upside to that particular downside was that when our Hawaii trip was finally upon us, I did manage to get my body together. I looked better on the outside than I ever had. Between the daily Insanity workouts and changes to my diet (still not restricting calories though), I was able to rock that bikini and strut my stuff confidently all over the beaches of Maui.
Upon our return, I recognized that my “clean” food obsession was getting out of hand. I began to get bored of the foods I was eating. I began to resent those around me that could walk into a store, buy a bag of chips, and eat them without a second though. I began to crave a wider variety of foods. I began to feel sad when I realized how horrible I made people feel when choosing what they put in their own bodies. And I also got really bored of my Insanity video workouts and I was noticing that my body had stopped changing. Weight was stable, but regardless of how much I was working out progress was at a standstill. I was ready for something different.
By complete accident, I landed on these videos by Dr. Layne Norton:
I soaked it all up and was absolutely intrigued. I jumped head first into flexible dieting (aka IIFYM) and picked up a new set of weights. My obsession with eating “clean” foods melted away and my heart fell absolutely head over heels in LOVE with weight & strength training. With the help of my newly hired coach William Grazione who helped me through a very structured reverse diet and had me set up with a new bodybuilding program… my passion & spark for all things fitness was officially ignited.
Once my relationship with food was resolved, I had gone through a full cycle of reverse dieting and then cutting (dieting back down), and then doing a length building phase to gain some more muscle, I was in such an amazing place in my journey. I was beyond confident with my body and where I was at mentally.
My love for lifting was stronger than ever and I ended up asking my coach to set me up with a new powerlifting program. I had no intention of competing or anything, but I wanted to feel even stronger!
This is where my fitness, food, and health journey took a drastic turn and life as I knew it would NEVER be the same…
I was about 4 weeks into my new powerlifting program and following my final deadlift, I felt a little something in my lower back. It wasn’t a blatant snap, sharp pain, or anything over the top, but I knew I felt something was a bit off. From that particular day and on regardless of what I was doing (sitting, standing, laying down, lifting, walking, breathing), I had constant burning and pain in my lower back. In my gut I knew something was very wrong.
You can read the full story about my diagnoses for symptomatic Tarlov Cyst Disease HERE…
And what life was like at the end of 2015 HERE…
Things were definitely very very different. My life was turned upside down, inside out, and I was punched a thousand times in the face. During those first few months after my diagnoses, I found myself in a very very dark place. I was officially considered “chronically ill” and suffering from a lifelong painful spinal disease. I couldn’t even walk most days, let alone workout and all I wanted to do was curl up in a hole and die. Literally, there were many moments where I simply found myself saying “I can’t do this anymore. This is not living.”. I frustrated, sad, and felt sorry for myself, sorry for my husband and family, and sorry that my life would never be the same. I was in a downward spiral and began to simply give up.
Luckily for me, the ongoing love & support I was surrounded with wouldn’t let that happen.
In February of 2015, I decided enough was enough. I would STOP all of the negative feelings and fight. I was going to fight for my life and fight to at least improve my medical condition. I stopped looking at my disease as a death sentence and knew I could move at least some of those dark clouds that I was surrounded with. I was confident that although I would live with my my spinal condition for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t let it take my ‘living’ away.
I got out of bed each and everyday with the mindset that today would be a good day regardless of the pain and symptoms. I made my health my FULL TIME job. I researched and read and soaked up anything and everything I could to at least relieve some of the effects from my disease. I also made a very conscious decision to take a 100% natural approach to my “healing”. I stopped every single medication and prescription I was prescribed, got my medical marijuana card, and much to my surprise… clouds began to move and glimmers of sunshine began to return.
By February 2015 although I knew I would never exercise or train the same ever again, I was able to at least incorporate some minor lifting here and there. It was never consistent, but having the ability to pick up some baby dumbbells even a couple of times a week had a huge impact on my mind & body. Even when I was knocked down by overactivity and had to spend the next 1-2 weeks in a flare up, I ALWAYS got back up. 9 times down, 10 times up. I would NEVER again let my spinal disease take away my determination to live the life I wanted.
With things going better than they had in nearly a year, life decided to throw another curveball at me. After dealing with the first really bad flare up I had in at least 2-3 months, I got some blood work done and my markers for autoimmunity were positive. As testing began to figure out which AI disease I had, my proactivity kicked into high gear. I began to feel like my body was trying to tell me something. I felt like everything I had going on was not merely coincidence or bad luck. And that regardless of whatever autoimmune disease I have, I would fight it head on.
This is where the new journey begins and I’m thankful you are here to share it with me….