My story...

So for a week or two I’ve been sitting on this post, waiting until I had the time to devote to it to get it out properly. I have not completely opened myself to you all.

I am rather new to Israel; we only arrived this past summer. I have been a nutrition counselor for over 2 years. But my story really goes way back. It goes back to when I decided that this is what I wanted to devote my working time to. Or maybe even further back to when I got married and starting to make a family with my husband. Maybe even further back than that. Let’s start with my childhood.

You see, I’ve always struggled with my weight. I was not an average weight kid. I wasn’t the kid with a few extra pounds. I was the 8 or 9 year old that needed to lose 20 pounds. I was the one with the mom that was a very skinny child, growing up in post WWII Europe, where chubby kids were considered a good thing. In fact, my mother was always self-conscious about how thin she was. So she never stressed about my weight. She never worried. She fed me a healthy diet of produce, produce and minimal packaged foods. But I was an emotional eater even then, so if I got upset I would just eat A LOT.

Fast forward to teen years, I became a body-loathing teenager that struggled with body image issues and disordered eating. I also lost 50 lbs. limiting myself to about 750 calories a day. Obviously I didn’t lose weight in a healthy way. I was thinner, but I was weak and flabby. I wasn’t strong and vibrant. I barely slept and I replaced meals with cappuccinos and cigarettes.

Years later I quit smoking, started running on the elliptical for an hour a day and eat a bit better (still about 1000 cals a day, too scared still to put back on the weight to increase my calorie intake), I met my now husband. We got engaged; I was stressed and put back on 10 lb. before the wedding. I lost it after the wedding. But then became pregnant and started to eat. And eat. And eat some more. My body had been deprived of nutrients for so long that I literally ate everything I could find. It was horrible. I felt disgusting. I wanted to hide, and I usually did in a really big tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream. Like every night after work. It was bad.

Baby came. Only I had put on 85 pounds and baby only weight 7 lb. 1 oz. (yes, I counted every freaking ounce off of the pounds needed to lose lol). And I lost about 30 lbs. between giving birth and my first cycle. But that still left me with 50 more pounds to lose. I was happy with my baby, but depressed and a little disgusted with myself and how I had let myself go. I basically shamed myself.

It took me a year to start working out. That’s when I started regaining my confidence. I started to look at the progress in the mirror instead of the number on the scale. It took me 2 and half years to get off 35 lbs.

And I was terrified of becoming pregnant again because I couldn’t imagine gaining all that weight back. It makes me sad to think that I was scared of having another baby, but I really was. It didn’t help that it took baby #1 2 years to sleep through the night on a normal basis. I was a bit traumatized I guess.

I became pregnant again, and because I had morning sickness in the beginning and refused to eat bread I somehow lost more weight in the first trimester. I decided to make this pregnancy about good wholesome nutrition. Something I hadn’t really cared about before. But having a bun in the oven and fearing weight gain made me more thoughtful about the way I ate. In my whole 2nd pregnancy I gained a total of 19 lb. I was pretty pleased with myself. I felt confident and happy my entire pregnancy. I had tons of energy and minimal swelling. I gave birth to a 6 lb. 11 oz. baby and NONE OF THE WEIGHT WOULD BUDGE. It simply refused. I still don’t get it. My weight didn’t even drop those 6 lb. 11 oz.! It was a MYSTERY!

I started working out as soon as the doctor gave me the O.K. I started seeing a nutritionist. I stopped seeing a nutritionist because she kept reducing my calories again and I was always hungry. I decided to increase my calories and do it on my own, with a clean diet and lots of fruits and veggies. I started loosing the weight.

Then, I fell down the stairs. Baby #2 was 6 months old and I fell down the stairs landing flat on my back. I was stupid, I should have gone to the hospital and had an MRI right away to see if I had damaged my spine. But I didn’t, I popped advil and put up with the aches and unbearable pain and went back to working out and even started lifting weights. I had bruises on my back for a solid 4 months. I was being really stupid.

Months later, I’ve been home caring for baby, lifting him (he was a heavy baby- about 27 lb. by 1 year), carrying him, chasing him etc. and I am in excruciating pain. I am popping advil just to get through the day. I am standing all day, walking, working out still, cooking, chasing kids, etc. And by 2pm every day I would start hopping from one foot to the other because I have pain going down my legs, I was limping, my lower back is either killing me or numb from the advils and I am always moody.

At this time, by luck a good friend opened up a physical therapist office around the block from me. One day while crying in my kitchen because the pain was so bad, I texted her and asked her what she thought about how I was feeling. She graciously said to come in ASAP with or without a referral, in case I couldn’t get to the DR b4 hand. I did, I got and MRI and x-rays and got my referral.

I had degenerative disc disease (which I had actually known for 4 years already from a previous x-ray), a herniated disc in my lower spine, and stenosis of the nerves. I also had low muscle tone and from working out so hard and lifting weight I had caused my right leg to get lodged into my hip (hence why I was limping). She couldn’t even understand how I was functioning or moving.

It took about 3 appointments a week for 2 months to get strong enough to do more than walking. I was never allowed to bend. I couldn’t pick things up the floor, I had to be careful how I even got out of bed and put on my pants and underwear in case the disc bulged out again. I had several relapses. Luckily the last was about 1 and half years ago.

During this time of healing, I decided to I wanted to make this my mission. I wanted to help women take care of themselves. Not just lose weight or get fit, but really take care of them. See, I had lost that drive. All I saw was the extra weight and what my family needed from me. I let myself get tossed in the garbage basically. My health and well-being came last. I had let it get to the point where I couldn’t even pick up my own baby. And that was unacceptable. It should’ve never gotten that far.

Anyway, since then, I have still had ups and downs. I still struggle with emotional eating sometimes. But I always take care of myself. I work out and eat healthy. When I need a break, I take one. And I have learned to put myself first. Because without their mother, what will happen to my boys?

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There are risks by beginning an exercise and/or program. An examination and permission by a physician should be obtained by anyone prior to starting a fitness and/or exercise program, or initiating a substantial change in the amount of regular physical activity performed. In any event, the participant acknowledge and agree that they assume the risks associated with any and all fitness related activities and/or exercises in which you participate in. Sabrina Perl and Healthy By Sabrina are not responsible for any injury caused or resulting from these exercises or meal plans.

© 2021 by Sabrina Perl