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On the outside, I’m one of those “lucky people” who are naturally thin. Besides the freshman 15 in college and the 25 pounds gained during both pregnancies, I’ve always been thin and athletic. Inside though, I have always battled with poor body image and at times eating disorders.

I know exactly what my eating disorder started. I was a freshman in college and realized I had quickly gained weight. As a super active high school athlete, nutrition and fitness weren’t thought about. I remember almost every other day eating two McDonalds burgers and fries for lunch, a chocolate malt after dinner, and two or three servings of whatever mom was cooking. In college, it was time to fend for myself, and I wasn’t great at it. By the time I graduated college I now realize I was suffering from Orthorexia. There was a time in my life I wrote down every bite I had.

I was scared to go to social functions because I might not be in control of my food and surroundings. One of the biggest fights I ever had with my then fiancé was he put butter in the pan where I was about to cook. I quickly realized I couldn’t continue to live like this, and something had to change.

Enter CrossFit. CrossFit was everything I was looking for and more. Instead of constantly being focused on the scale, I become obsessed with getting stronger and faster. I started working out to compete and lift instead of trying to be skinny. I started fueling myself better with fruits, vegetables, and protein. I saw massive amounts of difference in my body quickly. It became a full-blown addiction, and before I knew it, I was working out 4+ hours a day to be better.

Over time I found myself in a healthy loving relationship for the first time and life started to come together. We decided to start a family which led to IVF, pregnancy, and becoming a mom. Being a mother has put so much into perspective, and I can finally say after 8+ years of battling my own body, I am content.

What I have learned is that all of us have issues, and we are harder on ourselves than we would ever be to others. As a personal trainer, my clients often come to me with a “number” that will make them happy. “If only I can get to 130, I will be happy.”

Truth is, there isn’t a single number or pant size that will fulfill you.

I challenge everyone to speak to your body the way you would a friend. Stop putting it down all the time. Be thankful for what your body can do for you instead of where it’s at right now. Stop focusing on the scale and focus on the amount you can squat.

My biggest hope is that I don’t pass on my body issues to my daughters. I dream that they never get on a scale and let it dictate their mood. That they have the confidence and knowledge to be kind to their body.

Hilary Roten is a wife and mom to 2 girls, ages 4 and 6 months. She works fulltime for Dell and also does personal training. While not in the gym or obsessing over all things Peloton, she can be found with her nose in a book or watching anything on Bravo.

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