I have been so blessed to meet and become friends with Amy Baumgartner! I knew from the moment I took my first yoga class with her that I wanted to know more! She has a calmness about her like no other. I have learned so much from her over the last few months. I asked her to share some of her story with us! I am so glad that she was willing!! Read on….
First Name/Age: Amy Baumgartner, 40 years old
Tell us a little about yourself so we can get to know you better.
I don’t know what to say….I was born in CA, grew up in CO, schooled in ID and OR and now live in ID, where I vowed I would never live. But I do love THIS SIDE of the state. I’m a Cancer! I’m kidding I don’t even know my sign…I was born in January. I have four children, three boys and a little girl. I am a creative soul and my favorite quote is by Anias Nin, “and the day came when the strength is took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the strength is took to bloom.” and my favorite book is Jane Eyre. I only hope to grow up and be like Jane. When faced with the most difficult of temptations and threats I can stay true to the God who stayed true to me.
Have you struggled with weight/body image issues throughout your life?
My body image issues are really a different story here all together. How I felt about my body during my teens was not positive but that was because of generational phrasing and comments about what a particular type of athlete should and should not look like. My mother struggled with her body image as did my grandmother and so on. There came a time when I felt the need to make sure I did not pass that negative lens down. But again, that is an entirely different almost unrelated tail to the one I’m about to tell.
The first signs of Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome showed up my Sophomore year in High School. Sometimes I would have a period, sometimes I would skip. I felt anxious a lot, and had very bad acne. The worst part then was that I was chubby in my appearance but was very fast, agile, flexible, strong, and had great stamina. Another classic symptom of PCOS is fast weight gain and it was hard to shed. For someone who worked out 3 hours after school every day the entire school year, I kept thinking I should be healthier looking than this. That’s when scary tendencies to not eat much or at all were toyed with. During the summer prior to my Senior year I was working out about 5 hours a day. I would spend two hours at the gym coaching and conditioning, then I had my own 3 hour workout, then I went for a five mile run in the afternoons…all the while living off of cereal and salad. I started off my final year of High School at the weight I wanted but finished that year 25 pounds heavier, which I gained in about four weeks worth of time post track season. While a freshman in College I put on another confusing 15 pounds (no I did not eat in the dorms), all the while dealing with acne, missed periods, and a bunch of other life messes. Fortunately I knew I was a mess and I also knew that all this that was happening to me was not me. During some classes I was taking at college I began to sort the things I can control from the things I can’t and the process of self-love was beginning to grow. I knew I was in there somewhere I just needed help finding it. FAST FORWARD….I got married!! Five years into our marriage we sought help for fertility. THAT diagnosis of PCOS, CHANGED MY LIFE. MANY, MANY, MANY, questions were answered and I felt I finally had a place to start with myself. At age 28 I started the process of learning about food, our bodies, and pregnancy…that’s a lot to take in.
What did you discover was your “why” for making a healthy change in your life? Once you found your why, what became the goal? How did you plan to reach your goal?
The syndrome that I was dealing with is one that is classified as part of the insulin resistant lists of syndromes and diseases of our time. By learning about that I really began to understand that I really was different from many. I had to accept that my body worked differently from other’s and that what seems like innocent consumption to some was very destructive to me. SO my why for changing was culturally hard, sometimes it still is, but my why I changed was so natural and easy to make, in many ways it felt effortless because for so long, ALL MY LIFE, I wanted to be thin and then I had an added incentive… to become a mother. My goal was to get pregnant. Once pregnant my goal was to keep the pregnancy. Once I kept the pregnancy my goal was to keep my child alive. Once I could see my child would live I began to treat the way I exercised differently. I began to think in terms of healing, restoring, enriching and thriving. My purpose for good health came into a clearer focus. I wanted to not only be healthy for me but I wanted to be healthy for my family.
What would you say was your rock bottom or your lowest point?
During the two years I was at College before I transferred to a University was probably the lowest point for me with my aesthetics. I was 40 pounds overweight, and not having a spectacular Collage experience that you hear other’s talk about. Between my freshman and sophomore year I picked up a book my mom was using called, The Zone diet. Ironically a book perfect for me and my un diagnosed condition. This helped to shed some pounds and while reading something’s about insulin resistance in the book and wondered if I were. But pride was probably a big factor and the fact that I was not diabetic kept me from being as centered on this book as I should have been. I used it till I took some weight off and then went back to eating the way I wanted to. So I yo-yoed for about five years. Fortunately is was between the “Zone” diet and my normal bad eating habits.
Do you remember the first change you made?
I remember eating lots of chicken breast and green beans. I also remember getting very bored with this.
What obstacles did you encounter along the way? Did anything about the journey surprise you?
Between each child I worked really hard to stay very balanced in my eating, sleeping, and exercising habits. I was surprised that with some children the physical weight came off easier than with others. After my third child I encountered a slew of symptoms that landed me in a barrage of doctor’s offices. THAT is when I learned that there is more to just balancing eating, sleeping, and exercising. THAT is when I learned about the importance of spiritual/emotional balance, and the importance of healthy thinking habits. Your thought right now may be, “Was she depressed? Did she have a mental break down?” To which I answer no, not at all. My body however, was falling apart from my feet (my plantar fascia tore) to my heart (racing at crazy speeds in the middle of the night) I had hip, back, and shoulder pain, weird “shingle” looking blisters on my neck, unaccounted for anxiety, and tired eyes (I felt like my lids had weights on them).
Who was your biggest supporter? How did they support you?
This is a really good question because I think there are lots of people hoping for extrinsic motivation and a cheering section. I also think there are those who are wondering, should I have a cheering section if I want to make these changes? I even think there are those who believe, right or wrong, that in order to actually make changes they have to have a cheering section.
I am here to say, as cheesy or weird or whatever you think, I don’t care, but that GOD is my cheering section.
All the while my family, my husband, and friends are telling me I look fine, I should be happy with what I have. Some people aren’t models. Some people carry their weight differently….BLAH, BLAH, BLAH!
I am here to tell you if you know you can be better, GOD already knows that and HIS arms are stretched out to you to help you become who you are meant to be. It is because of HIS wisdom, power, and timing that I am becoming and that I became. I became a mother, I became healthy, I became wiser, I became braver, I became stronger, I became an instructor, I became a mentor, and I am becoming everyday with HIS help.
How long did it take for you to know that you were on the right track and you weren’t going to look back?
I now know that every righteous desire and endeavor I want, GOD wants for me. Without HIM I am nothing but a prideful shell comparing my weaknesses to everybody’s strengths. I have learned that my body, my family, my life, is really all that I have and they are all a special blessing given to me to take the best care of.
What fears did you face?
I faced fear of fear, which is and sounds ridiculous, because, I now know it is. But being afraid to try is so counterproductive to feeling good, being good, and sharing the good. I learned it okay to be afraid, just stay the course because that if FAITH and it will diminish the fear, whatever kind that may be.
Besides the physical changes, what differences have you noticed?
The hugest blessing was my baby girl. Because of some serious healing and behavior changes we got pregnant on our own. I am off all insulin resistant drugs and infertility medication. I have regular periods and am able to keep acne to a minimum.
What advice would you give someone else who is beginning this quest?
You cannot fail by being absolutely honest with yourself, accepting yourself, and living each day with that acceptance simultaneously letting go of who you were in exchange for who you want to be.
What would you say to your past self? What would you say to your future self?
I would just hug that girl and cry my guts out with her. Then, I’d say to her what I would say to my future self. Trust GOD and follow where he leads you with a willing and happy heart.