The story behind
helloholloway is whom I needed when I entered into the health and wellness space.
helloholloway started as my Instagram handle in 2012. I chose to make this my handle, as individuals used to say "hello holloway!" when passing through the halls.
Then, like many, I used Instagram to upload photos of my social life, photos from high school, and honestly...anything.
When I graduated high school, I entered into the health and wellness space, with a goal to lose weight, and become "fit". My “health journey” began with good intentions, but led me to the lowest point in my life. The exercise regime I adopted was strictly running, for hours at a time along with undereating. I swore to only eat “clean” foods and stripped my diet of food groups and anything I deemed “unhealthy”. I created my own food rules driven by diet culture. I was scared of carbohydrates, fruit especially, and hardly ever ate any sources of fat. My diet was so “clean” I don't even know what I could call it. I ended up losing my menstrual cycle but paid no attention to it.
During this time there were so many red flags that should have halted this, but because I was so determined to lose weight, and fit into the standards that are set for women within society, nothing could stop me. Coupled with this, I as well started competing in local pageants. As I gained crowns and exposure, so did the body comments. Others would comment on my body and how it “needed to look”. The more I obsessed over winning, the harder I got on myself and with the scale. The more I lost weight, the more people expressed positive comments, and I wrongfully continued.
The day I had my "wake up call", was a day I will never forget. I suddenly was under 100 pounds, fragile, and could not remember when the last time I had a menstrual cycle was. For months on end, I tried to fix this quickly. I spent my nights crying not knowing where to start or whom to turn to. The doctor I visited did not take me seriously and jokingly asked “are you trying to be a ballerina?” when I expressed that I had lost much weight and needed guidance on how to regain my cycle.
I remember asking if there could be a way to reach a healthy medium: have a normal cycle, eat healthily, and have an exercise regime. “No”, he said, and further offered birth control as a “bandage” to the problem. When I left the doctor's office that day, I feared for others to follow in my footsteps as I was miserable. My beautiful long hair was falling out, I was weak and had become a person that I was not. I no longer recognized myself. I was confused about how I allowed myself to get to this point. But I knew, it had to be fixed.
When I left the doctor's office that day, something in me knew that it was time to heal.
Through Instagram for several years, I followed a coach who specialized in Fitness through Mindset and “Macro-Counting” coaching. Since her service came with a price, it was financially not feasible for me at the time. For months, I watched her stories and read her posts knowing that this could be the answer to my prayers. Given that I knew about how a flexible approach to nutrition was the most sustainable based on success stories, I thought that this could potentially get me to the healthy medium I was after.
The new journey that I took part in at now 19 was extremely hard. I cried many nights, questioning if working with a coach instead of seeking therapy or counseling was the right thing to do. But I trusted my coach, put all my faith in the process, and when I say it was the rewarding experience of my life...I mean it.
Starting from a weight of 98 pounds, I put my whole life into my coach's hands. She knew exactly where I was coming from and was able to coach me with direction and empathy. I dove deep into the world of fitness. Suddenly, no foods were off-limits and I gained a healthy relationship with food. I was breaking all the diet rules that society set in place and was feeling energized again. My hair stopped falling, my back no longer looked weak and a newfound love for the gym was established. You could say that strength training along with the several courses on nutrition that I took saved me. During this, I went through several bulks and cutting seasons and regained not only my period, but my life back.
When I say that the years that I spent in this deep hole were the most rewarding, I say that with full confidence. I look back on this time and do not regret a moment of it because of the life I live today. This all would have never happened if I did not choose to recover. There were times where I doubted if I would ever gain a normal life again, but I knew that each time I “showed up” for myself was a step closer to recovering. I am now stronger not only mentally but physically.
The passion I poured into this journey evolved into helloholloway, where I share pictures of my own cooking with captions to inspire my followers from topics about nourishing your body, to encouragement. I as well aim to promote balance by proving to my followers that it is possible to have health and fitness goals while still enjoying all foods. Most know my story and how far I have come which does not scare me nor make me feel small. Sharing my story was a part of my healing process. Becoming honest and vulnerable with my past only wanted me to share my story with others more as my past does not define me.
You would be surprised at just how many women and men go through what I went through...but in secret. It is said that “an estimated 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women suffer from anorexia nervosa at some point in their lifetime.”
We must educate the youth on the topic of eating disorders and furthermore demolish the culture that society created around fitness, dieting, and nutrition. There can be balance, there can be health and fitness, and there is definitely room for all foods. This journey has not only taught me much about myself but given me a new perspective on health, exercise, and life. Life is precious, and not anything to be toyed with. This journey as well has opened up a new conversation about self-acceptance. Today as I look in the mirror and see myself for who I am, and not as a number on a scale, I can confidently say that the journey was challenging but well worth it.
To close, I believe that things in life happen for a reason. If this journey did not happen to me, I would have never thought about attempting to educate others on this topic. I would have never tried to post recipes, workout videos, or stress the importance of healing your relationship with food.
Most importantly, I would not be the person that I am today.
A battle like this is normally fought in silence; I know in my heart that my story has the potential to inspire others to speak up. I believe that my journey has more purpose than just for myself. Sharing my story furthermore gives confidence to those that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
This is why I created helloholloway: to help others, to be a role model for others to look up to, and to inspire others to heal.
Thank you for allowing me to share my story.