When I was younger, I was always involved in some activity. I tried it all: basketball, dance, soccer, gymnastics. But the one thing that stuck with me was gymnastics. My mom was a gymnast and I wanted to be just like her. 

I dropped all of my other sports and really dove into the gymnastics scene. From age 8 onward, I discovered a love for the sport. Being upside down gave me the biggest thrill and learning new skills was so much fun for me. Gymnastics taught me dedication, it showed me the power of hard work, and it taught me to give it my all – at all times. 
 
But things got a little rocky in my teenage years. Around age 13, I really began to dislike my body. And at 14, I was diagnosed with anorexia. Gymnastics rewarded perfectionism, and I believed that everything had to be perfect, even my body. I didn’t feel satisfied with myself, so I gave it my all to feel satisfied. I started training 20 hours a week. And on top of that, I would work out more at home, including swimming laps, running, or making up my own workouts because I never felt like I was doing enough. And when I didn’t do those extra workouts at home or run that extra mile, I felt an incredible amount of guilt that I could not bear to sit with. I was controlled by exercise. 
 
I ended up quitting gymnastics. My therapist felt it wasn’t best for me, and I knew that I could never fully progress with my recovery if I stayed in the sport. A sport focused on perfection was not the best for my Type A personality.
 
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Fitness sat on the back burner in my life for a bit because my health needed to come first; I had to beat this battle with anorexia. But after lots of treatment and a whole lot of tears, fitness soon made its way back. 
 
However, this time, fitness played a completely different role. Coming from a past of exercise addiction, training 20 hours a week for gymnastics, and exercising for the wrong reasons, I knew that fitness needed to play a much healthier role in my life this time around. 
 
I continued on with yoga, something I started when I was sick with my eating disorder. I discovered a huge love for that. Yoga made me feel alive again. I finally stopped forcing myself to be a slave to cardio machines for every single workout and discovered how amazing lifting weights is. Lifting makes me feel strong and invincible. It makes me feel unstoppable. 
 
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Fitness and I have had a pretty complicated relationship. We’ve had our ups and downs. But I am so thankful for fitness. Because exercise and moving my body is something that I love so much now. The gym has become my therapy. Yoga has made my soul flourish. I appreciate all my body can do now and give it the rest and love it needs. 
 
Moving your body is tons of fun. Especially when you allow yourself to do what you truly want. We all know there is no better feeling than a great sweat. I know that for sure. Yet I also learned how to listen to my body along this fitness journey, and that is something I am so incredibly thankful for. 
 
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About The Author

Alyssa is a sophomore at Stonehill college. She could eat a sweet potato everyday and spends too much money on nut butter. A yogi, semi-gym rat and health nut, but also a huge believer in balance. She talks a lot about mental health and a healthy lifestyle on her blog blissful-lyss.com.

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