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  • Cara Ponticello

The Roots of a Bad Relationship with Food & Warped Body Image

Updated: Jul 2, 2021


Health has been a reoccurring theme throughout my life, but my definition of “healthy” has dramatically changed over the years. Growing up in a typical Italian American home, during the 90’s, was an overall unhealthy environment to say the very least. Our world constantly revolved around food from the moment we woke up to the time we went to bed. In the middle of breakfast my grandmother would be asking what we wanted for dinner. We’d come home from school and she’d be waiting at the front door with homemade pizzas. Don’t get me wrong, I would do anything to have my grandmother back in my life and to eat her cooking, but there’s a thing called moderation.

By the end of the 6th grade, I was the heaviest and unhealthiest I had ever been, or will be, in my entire life (pictured). I was name called and bullied throughout elementary school. This one girl even sang the Jenny Craig jingle to me and told me to call “1-800-97JENNY”. I can still hear it in my head, clear as day. Even though these are memories I have not forgotten, I have overcome them and grew stronger from them.

I became aware that there was an issue, I was bigger than most kids. I became super self-conscious about my body, I just wanted to be invisible. The education on health and nutrition was severely lacking. I played softball, but I wasn’t active enough to make up for what was being consumed. Once I hit junior high school, I finally was able to make some progress. But it was a rollercoaster ride right through high school.

In 12th grade I joined Weight Watchers for the first time. I was very successful with the program, I lost 17 pounds and kept it off. A few years later I joined again for the second time around and lost another 25 pounds. I had my mother prepare my food differently, or I bought my own healthy meals and snacks. I had joined a gym in high school and throughout the years started to try new activities, Pilates, kickboxing, spinning.

These were all really great positive changes, but mentally I was approaching it all wrong. I was concerned about the number on the scale. I had the mentality of if I skip a meal, I could eat what I wanted later. Or if I knew I was going out with friends, I would skip a meal, or barely eat all day to “save” my calories for that night. I’ve tried all kinds of “diets” low carb, low fat, Optavia, Slim-Fast, you name it. My relationship with food and with my body was very much warped.

Most recently, I have taken on a holistic approach to health and wellness. Eat more whole foods. Each day, eat mindfully. Move your body. Take time for self-care. Surround yourself with positive, supportive people. A year ago I discovered CrossFit and have been going six days a week ever since. It truly changed my life. I found a community of people that I am so grateful to be a part of.

I am still a work in progress, the journey does not end, but I have come a very long way. I have taken the power back over my health and mental wellbeing. I am so grateful to be able to help others get theirs back too. Becoming certified in holistic nutrition, health and wellness coaching is the best possible thing I could have done for myself. To switch career paths from a job that was stressing me out day in and day out, to being able to help others and feel fulfilled everyday was a risk worth taking.

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