The people in our lives (whether lasting or brief) and all the things we experience, life altering or seemingly insignificant, have tremendous effect in shaping who we are as individuals today and can alter the paths we take tomorrow. I'd like to think everything happens for a reason, but I haven't had one of those epiphanies in my life yet. Instead, I like to think of life as a "Choose Your Own Adventure"-like book. Each choice we make (big or small) leads us down a path that leads to more choices and paths, some that may have never existed if we had not chosen that path. Whether these paths ever intersect later down the road, we may never know. "Mistakes" may have lead us to right where we need to be, albeit the path was most likely longer and with several bumps along the way that trip us up and cause scrapes and bruises along the way. Even though we don't usually come out unscathed, those marks that were left behind serve as a reminder and help us (or maybe in some cases harm our ability) when we come to a fork in the road and shape our lives.
So here is a long, brief history of my life. It may not be glamorous or exciting, but it's what made me who I am, and brought me to where I am right now.
I was born November 22nd, 1985 in Bellevue, WA to Maria and Donny Parker weighing in at 6 lbs 11 oz and 20 inches long. Even at only hours old, I was so fabulous and strikingly pretty, that the hospital asked if they could put me in a video promoting the maternity ward. And BOOM I was famous! Well...ok maybe not but hey, I like to think they saw the potential model in me. :)
Not long after my arrival, things started to boil over in my parents' marriage. My mom worked, and my dad was an aspiring rock star. His many late night "gigs" and partying (drinking and getting high) was not creating the life my mom had wanted for herself and new family. After many fights and pleads to my dad to "grow up" and take responsibility for his family by getting a real job and dropping the "rock-star" lifestyle, my mom left my dad with a 6 month me in tow. Life was better in some ways, but the immature and vindictive Donny tried to make life for my mom a living hell. He often used me as a way to get to my mom and hurt her. Eventually my mom came to realize that if she were to stay where she was, I would be one screwed up kid. So in my best interest she moved us to Missoula, MT when I was about 2 years old to be close to her family and where she had grown up.
A couple of years down the road my mom married my stepdad Pat. Apparently the 3 1/2 year old me didn't quite fancy him at first, but it didn't take long for him to win me over and become "Dad". It was around this time that my mom was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Because of this disease and the little that anyone knew about how to treat it, my mom quickly succumbed to the pain and was forced to quit her job. For years she was bed ridden and barely able to do even the smallest tasks due to the extreme pain caused by even the slightest movement. Because of this, I had to learn how to be much more self sufficient at a young age. Through it all my dad worked to support my mom and I, and became a caretaker for the both of us.
Because of my mom's disability and the worry that a happy childhood was at risk, I was given every opportunity to experience life and try my hand at a variety of sports and activities. I was a Campfire girl, I tried gymnastics, swimming, ballet, piano, and acting in local plays. I played seasonal sports through the YMCA like basketball and soccer. As I got older, more and more drugs came out that helped my mom function in her daily life more and more. She was able to come to more of my games, picked me up from school, and always had a home cooked meal at dinner that we ate as a family. She was still limited in her physical abilities and in pain 24/7, but she put a smile on her face and trudged through the day, determined to give me a "normal" and happy childhood.
My mom is an AMAZING cook! But I was unfortunately an extremely picky eater as a child. I think because she felt guilty about her illness and the toll it was taking on being a mother, she often catered a lot of things to me to make me "happy". She went to a lot of lengths to make things that I liked, and if I turned up my nose at something she made at dinner, most of the time she made something else for me. I didn't like anything that looked or smelled different or had vegetables. My staples were chicken strips, fish sticks, tater tots, white rice or plain noodles with butter, white bread sandwiches (with strictly meat, mayo, and Durkees, or PB&J), Lipton Noodle Soup, potatoes of any kind, and so forth.
With the allowance to eat pretty much as I wanted, and my love for "comfort food", my petite frame started to get a little pudgy. Both of my parents are short. On my mom's side the build was petite and very thin, on my dad's however the build was stocky (wide with shorter extremities) and chubby. I physically took more after my dad. With this short and stocky build, I gained weight with unfortunate ease. I think my mom noticed this and trying to steer me in a different direction tried to make me more aware of what I was eating and my weight (sometimes not so subtly). Because of this I felt like everything I was putting in my mouth was being scrutinized and started to hide the things I ate. If i was ever left alone in the house for any period of time, I would use that time to gorge myself on all the things I wanted to eat without scrutiny, and do my best to cover my tracks before anyone got home. I believe it was this behavior that started me on the lifelong struggle with binge eating.
As I got older I became increasingly aware of my weight. Most of my family gatherings were with my mom's side of the family who were all stick thin and for the most part could eat whatever they wanted. I became more insecure about my appearance, and spent many holiday gatherings crying in my room because I felt like I was being looked down on for being the fat kid and judged for everything I put on my plate. This carried into my school life as well. Around 5th grade I stopped eating at school. Everyday I refused to eat lunch and instead had a small carton of milk and a couple saltines from the salad bar, so people wouldn't think "no wonder she's fat" or "she shouldn't be eating because she is fat". Looking back I know this was completely irrational, but it just goes to show my level of insecurity.
It was around middle school that I completely stopped wearing any clothing that would show my seemingly unattractive body in public. Clothes like shorts, tank tops, and swim suits were out of the question. No matter the temperature I would be in pants and a t-shirt. This continued throughout most of my life until very recently. I felt completely exposed and that people would only judge me and think "she should not be wearing that".
My insecurities about my body effected just about every area of my life. As a child I was outgoing and engaging, but as I grew up I became more withdrawn. It effected my relationships with my friends, family, and ultimately my love life. I couldn't understand how anyone could ever be attracted to me, so I never put myself out there. I was painfully shy around most guys I came into contact with. When the day came that I did find myself in a relationship at the age of 16, it was with complete disbelief and awe. How could this guy actually be attracted to me? Why would any guy pursue me?
He was sweet, caring, funny, and "popular" (in the way that a lot of people our age knew who he was). I fell head over heels. He was the first guy that seemed to really want to be with me. At that young age I thought that I had found "the one". He evened proposed to me with a beautiful ring. It wasn't long after that things started going down hill. He became increasingly jealous and possessive, which to an insecure young girl meant he just must have loved me that much more. He started lying about where he was and who he was with. He became manipulative and controlling and ultimately started cheating on me. Most girls would have turned and run for the hills, but my insecurities told me I wasn't worth it, that no one else would want to be with me, and that would end up alone if I didn't stay with him. I had my heart shattered countless times over the last 3 years of my teen years. Yet every single time I found out about another infidelity, the smooth talker he was convinced me "this time would be different" and I fell for it every time. Ultimately it took him joining the army for me to break free and get far away from his lies and manipulations.
Once free I moved to Seattle (knowing that it would take me leaving the state to be completely and forever rid of him) to go to school to become an Esthetician. But right before I moved, I unexpectedly met the guy that would become my husband. Again I was hesitant about why this great looking and sweet guy would be interested in me. I was unsure about myself and where I was going in my life. I didn't feel like I was ready after the traumatic relationship I had just months before gotten out of. But Dan pursued me and made great efforts to get to know me. After I moved out to Seattle, Dan drove out to visit me every month for several months, and ended up selling his car and giving up his life in Missoula to move out to Seattle to be with me.
The longer we spent together the closer and more comfortable I got. For the first time I felt like we both had complete trust between us. But the more comfortable and confident I got in our relationship, the more relaxed I got. I stopped being so careful about my weight, we loved to go out to eat and experience all the great food the big city had to offer. My weight steadily increased until I had gained over 35 pounds on top of my already chubby build even with periods of being very diligent with my diet and exercise. I was your run of the mill yo-yo dieter. If there was a new diet I was on it, if there was a "revolutionary" new diet pill, you bet I was trying it. It wasn't until Dan proposed that I realized how embarrassingly big I had gotten and trying on dresses and being on display for all my loved ones would put me right in the middle of my worst nightmare; to have everyone see me on what should be a day that everyone gasps and says "look how beautiful she is", and instead think "what happened to her?".
So started my race to lose weight and feel like I look beautiful on one of the most important days of my life. I started jogging around my neighborhood and went back and forth between the Atkins diet and the HCG diet. I had success and lost almost 40 lbs before my wedding. And although I felt good I still wish I would have lost more weight. But I came to realize that neither of these diets were something I could maintain for the rest of my life and I would continue to yo-yo through the many phases of my life unless I found a way of eating that I could live with for the rest of my life.
It was a client of mine that inspired me to try the "caveman" way of eating. Her success in so many areas of her life (with weight loss being an added bonus for her) intrigued me and I had to do more research. I stumbled across the Primal Blueprint and spent hours upon hours reading all of the amazing information the website had to offer. I was so amazed by all of the success stories that I decided I had nothing to lose and could change not only my body (to be what I had always wanted), but my life
So here's to the journey ahead... it may be long and bumpy, but the destination will be worth it a million times over. Thank you for taking a look into my life and who I am. I hope that it has helped you to feel like you know me a little more, and for some, seeing something you relate to and possibly helping inspire you.