Then Vs. Now

As I mentioned on Saturday, I’ve been battling this head cold for the past several days.  I’m finally feeling a little better (hallelujah!), but in the midst of it all I couldn’t help but think about how I used to respond when I didn’t feel well.  Then my thoughts led to how I used to think and do a lot of things differently before my struggle with Hypothalamic Amenorrhea.  I thought I had it all figured out and that I was being healthy, when in reality, I wasn’t most of the time.

Then – When I didn’t feel well, I pushed my body to do a workout no matter what.

Now – When I don’t feel well, I rest my body and don’t stress it out even more.

Then – I counted calories to make sure I didn’t go over my (very low and unhealthy) allotted amount.

Now – I (occasionally) count calories to make sure I get enough calories to maintain my weight and stay healthy.

Then – I always felt I had a “few pounds to lose” and was insecure about my body.

Now – I weigh more than I did before, and I feel more confident than ever.

Then – I didn’t even look at whole milk, let alone taste it.

Now – I love it in my coffee and the occasional bowl of cereal.

Then – I kept running even if my muscles were screaming at me.

Now – I take a leisurely walk and do some yoga if I am feeling sore.

Then – I felt anxious about going on vacation, wondering if I would be able to get my workouts in.

Now – I live it up, exercise if I feel like it, and enjoy the down time.

Then – I ignored my hunger cues if I felt hungry at an abnormal time.

Now – I eat when I feel hungry with no guilt.

Then – I craved sugar and nut butter almost all the time (because I wasn’t getting enough nutrients and fats in my diet).

Now – I enjoy nut butter but rarely ever crave it like I used to, and my sugar cravings are very rare.

Then – I never looked at “walking” as my cardio exercise.  It had to be running, spinning, or something high intensity.

Now – Walking is the majority of my cardio exercise.

Then – My feet and knees were constantly in pain.

Now – My feet and knees have never felt better.

Then – I would schedule my day around my workout.

Now – My workout is a priority, but I don’t obsess over it.  I fit it in where I can.

It amazes me looking back at how I used to treat my body.  And I thought this was healthy living?  What planet was I living on?  I’m so thankful that I’ve learned so much about my body and healthy living through this process.  Because I’m so stubborn, I don’t know if I would have ever learned this on my own without going through HA.


  • Do you have any “then vs. now” lessons that you’ve learned along the way?
  • Can you relate to any of the above?
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  1. says

    This is so freaking inspiring, I hope anyone who has struggled or is struggling with this reads it asap. You have done a great job and I love reading all the accomplishments you have made.

  2. says

    this is such an awesome post ashley! really inspiring! i am definitely getting towards the point where I am over a lot of my disordered eating and exercise habits of the past but I don’t think I’m fully there yet..but i do realize how much progress i’ve made and this post makes me just wanna keep on going!

  3. Carly71722 says

    Amazing post!!! So many of “us” can relate to it! It’s so freeing and liberating to live a healthy life without the restrictions :) Glad you have gotten to this place, girl! Another then/now:

    Then: Woke up at 4:40am so that I could rush to the gym before work, often compromising sleep.
    Now: Sleep in until 6:00am, look presentable for work (instead of still sweating, maybe wet hair), and go to the gym after work – because I no longer spend eternity working out and can still fit it in while its light out!

  4. says

    Congrats on the progress you have made! I used to push my body too much too, but have learned through injury that it’s not smart.

  5. says

    uuuum pretty sure I relate to ALL of those and generally still do. Well, mostly the “then”s, so this is good for me to look at. I have realized that eating more has made me crave sugar less (and now that I think about it, nut butters too!). Even just two or three weeks ago I ALWAYS wanted sugar! This morning I was thinking about it and candy just doesn’t sound good. Even froyo isn’t as enticing… AH! Haha. I also used to dig into nutbutter like a cavewoman and I haven’t done that once in the past week. P.S. loooooving my mid-morning snack.

    • Ashley says

      woo hoo! doesn’t eating more earlier in the day help so much?! i’m glad you’re loving your mid morning snack!

  6. says

    I can definitely relate to several of those…the traveling and not knowing what I’ll be able to eat and when I’ll be able to exercise is something that really used to make me freak out, but I’m definitely improving in that area!

  7. Emily says

    This is an amazing post! You are AWESOME and I adore your blog for posts like this one, so inspiring, motivational, and reassuring! Thank you for writing <3

  8. says

    Love this post, i was totally nodding my head the whole time :) Its amazing how sometimes HA seems like such a curse, while it also has been a huge blessing to so many girls! We are finally free and our bodies are so thankful for that! :) Definitely have realized the difference between being healthy and taking it to the extreme. <3 ya girl!

  9. Rebekah says

    I am so impressed with this comparison of these positive and healthy ways you have changed. It is so amazing!

  10. Mo says

    You have come a long way and you are truly an inspiration now for healthy living. I can relate to some of the then and nows as well. Now, as I sit here feeding my 2 week old, I feel so proud of my body. Not only for what it’s been through to grow a baby and noe nourish her, but that it knows what to do without me trying to control it. It has truly been a lesson in TRUSTING my body instead of abusing it. Good luck and keep up your healthy progress!

  11. Annie says

    I used to be an avid high-intensity exerciser until I tore my calf. Depressed over the injury, I planted my face in every baked good and fatty dish I could find. Of course I gained weight, but after a few weeks I suddenly realized that my obsessions of sugars and fats diminished – suddenly I actually *wanted* healthy food!

    Two months later, I am emotionally at peace with food. Now that I am able, I started a walking routine, which as you mentioned is a FABULOUS exercise – and as a result helped me dropped a few pounds without even trying. I still eat healthy, but I definitely indulge without guilt. I can look at ice cream in the face and say “Nah” because I really do not feel like eating it – same way I look at a salad sometimes. And the miracle of it all – I can now finally feel and trust my hunger cues again. Who wouldn’t want to be in this place!

    Really really great post. Thank you for sharing.

  12. LG says

    Way to go, Ashley! Those “then and nows” have been my experience as well, and it is WONDERFUL! However, don’t beat yourself up if you vacillate back to the “thens” sometimes if with less and less frequency. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about this journey (from age 18-31), it’s that it’s not a straight line to becoming a “normal” eater/exerciser (whatever that is). I STILL have the occasional binge or freak out about what I ate/don’t think I can eat, but those are fewer and farther between now. I have days where I love my body, and a few days where want to juuuust lose fiiiive more pounds. My sneak-eating is gone. My crying jags about food are gone. My overexercising is gone. My “visitor” is back! But ask me randomly, especially after dinner, if you want me to go for ice cream or have popcorn at the movies, and I’ll still probably say no because in my mind it’s “too much” – too many calories for that day, honestly. ( If I know about it earlier in the day and have a smaller dinner to compensate, no problem.) So I remain on guard about excesses and have leftover “things/rules” that go through my mind, but live so much more freely than I ever have – yesssss!!!! I love my body and know I’m treating it well. I thank God so often for this!

    • Ashley says

      you’re so right! thank you for always being so honest and open with me. :) you’re a huge inspiration!

  13. says

    YOU’re awesome!! So proud of you for listening to your body :)

    I used to fear the carbs (especially as an anorexic), and now it ain’t no thang. So grateful for experiences that have helped me see what true health is. You’re amazing & inspiring. <3

  14. says

    I completely agree with all of these… I’ll add this one
    Then… I used to get antsy or frustrated when something came up and I couldn’t make my workout.
    Now… I don’t sweat it. Time with friends, family, and just plain living life is too important!
    Thank you for being such an inspiration! xoxo

  15. says

    Awesome post Ashley! It’s amazing how far you’ve come. :) I can seriously relate to so much of this. I’m taking a rest day for the 2nd day in a row right now and I NEVER would have done that in the past. But now that I’m not so focused on burning calories, it doesn’t bother me in the least. I know it’s what my body needs!

  16. Elizabeth says

    That’s incredible! It’s really amazing when you write it out like that, to see all those changes. How much of a difference a short amount of time can take … wow. I went into a treatment program for 3.5 months and things like you described are exactly the same … with the counting calories, the nut butters, the exercise – it’s so freeing!

  17. says

    What a really nice post. It is funny because I think to some degree we bounce back and forth between the “then and now” so we might find ourselves at a more balanced and accepting place and then something kicks back into the older and perhaps less sustainable habits.

    My then and now isn’t really fitness but I think in my 20s I was so anxious and worked up that I meet certain personal life goals or dreams and now that I am older I am more comfortable with the fact that life just isn’t going to go as I planned. :)

  18. says

    This is such a great post! It’s hard to know you went through that, but when you look at it and write it out, you see all the trials you went through made you a better person today! You’ve improved so much and are such an inspiration to everyone! And you still look amazing! Can’t top that! :)

  19. says

    (long time reader, first time commenter) I love this! I’m finally getting to this place too & it feels so amazing. Thanks for your words & encouragement for the rest of us :)

    • Ashley says

      thanks so much for speaking up amber. :) i’m so glad you’re getting to that place too! keep it up girl!

  20. says

    This is a fantastic post – I can definitely relate to a lot of what you’re saying.

    It’s interesting how a lot of ‘healthy living people’ tend to take healthy living too far to the point where it becomes ridiculously unhealthy.

    One of my then and nows…

    Then: I used to ignore cravings and only eat what fit into my self-prescribed list of acceptable food

    Now:I eat chocolate, desserts, burgers, pasta and the like when I feel the urge to do so.

    And I’m much happier for it :-)

  21. says

    Great post! Its kind of a “blessing in disguise” that this happened because it totally transitioned how you view food in such a positive way! I am so proud of your progress! I’m taking a week off intense fitness, and maybe entirely working out, so I need to come back to your post about HA and remind myself I am doing GOOD for my body!! I’m seriously incredibly happy for you and all the strength you have gained from this experience!

  22. says

    this is probably so bad.. but I can totally relate to most of your “then’s”… I’ve been trying to change my outlook on life and develop a better relationship with exercise and food. I hope I can someday have your “Now’s” :)

  23. Sara says

    This is a great post! Really inspiring! When you were going through your “then” period, what was your average caloric intake? I truthfully count more often than I should, but I’ve been slowly getting more comfortable increasing my daily intake and am trying to figure out the right balance for me.

    • Ashley says

      Hi Sara! I had a couple “then” phases… my first phase was in college where I was probably only eating 1200-1300 calories per day while having a pretty active lifestyle. My second “then” phase was up until several months ago when I THOUGHT I was eating enough at 1500-1600 calories but definitely wasn’t with my still active lifestyle. I’m now eating about 2000-2200 calories, feel much more satisfied, and have maintained my weight.

  24. Heather says

    I’m right there with you! Overcoming an obsession to exercise and eat “perfectly” all the time has been so liberating. I’m sure that I’m not the only reader who’s so proud of you and loves that you’re redefining what a healthy living blog truly should be all about…moderation!

  25. says

    I love this post. I can really relate. I’ve had anorexia and I’ve come a long way since then… I’m a certified nutritionist now and if I’d known then what I know now… I’d never have done all those horrible things to my body. We live and learn. It’s great how you show this in this simple way with the “then / now” notes :) love it! You’re doing such a great job inspiring others too! :) That’s what I hope to do as well :)

  26. Christina says

    Your “then” is exactly how I am today :( I don’t know what to do. I’m going to read more, but when did you decide to see a doctor? It’s super hard b/c I really don’t want to gain weight..

  27. says

    New to your blog, and I’ve been reading a lot of your old posts about your struggles and triumph over HA and coming into a healthier mindset. Just wanted to say I think it’s awesome and you’ve documented it in a way that is informative and so helpful to others! I think we all need a little reminder every now and then that there is more to life than hardcore workouts and “perfect” eating! Congrats on your pregnancy, hope you’re feeling better!

    Great to “meet” you :)

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