Worth Living Ambassador Alexa Cress
“My name is Alexa Cress. I am 23 and am in love with living life to the fullest. I finally found balance within my own life after battling negative thoughts for years and thrive on sharing my story in the hope it motivates others to keep pushing on their journey”.
We all have things that we want to hide from those around us, whether it be something physically or mentally important to us. I also hid something from my loved ones for years and sadly I was more successful than maybe I should have been.
I grew up in an active family where sports were a daily occurrence and playing with my friends never involved sitting in front of a TV but rather spending the summer swimming or the winters skating. As the years progressed, my love for moving my body turned into participating in physical sports which kept me active every season of the year. Like most things in life, those years came to an end and as most graduates were focusing on what university they were going to attend, I was struggling with how I was going to stay active while in a new place.
That was when my whole mentality around exercise changed. It was no longer fun; it began to control me.
I played University volleyball for a semester but as my mentality weakened, I lost my love for the sport and I became a quitter for the first time in my life. I was so hard on myself, instilling that I was useless and wasn’t good enough. I longed for control. I turned to my consumption of food and my activity levels because those were two things at which I was finally good I realized.
Of course I lost weight, and in the beginning the compliments started coming and people were finally paying attention to me. My body ached for rest but my mind was too strong to let go of this new persona I had created for myself. Like most good things in life, I took it too far and my life became consumed by my addiction to the control I had on my daily life.
In my mind, what I was doing felt 100% normal and healthy, but little did I realize I had commenced a long path of pain followed by depression, anxiety and loneliness.
This behaviour affected so many other things in my life not only my physical appearance. I became a perfectionist; even more of one than I had been before if that’s possible to imagine. I started living each and every day by a routine, a very similar day to day plan which told me what I would eat, when I would eat, and what I would restrict myself from doing.In 2012, my parents finally stepped in and we had the “talk” that should have probably should have happened long before that. They knew something was wrong and that the healthy lifestyle I was striving for wasn’t in fact healthy at all.
I saw doctors and nutritionists to please my parents but nothing ever came from it. I was told over and over that my eating habits were “healthy” and the term eating disorder wasn’t mentioned once. I’ll be honest, I was good at hiding my behaviours and masking them to make it seem like I was living a completely healthy and happy life. Deep inside I was begging for help but was too stubborn and naive to admit that I had become so weak.
Two years passed and it seemed that every time I would make progress, the next week I would revert back to my negative habits. I needed a change, and I needed it fast.
A week after my college graduation I made the rash decision to flee abroad to Paris for a year. I bought a one way ticket, found a host family and within 4 months I was on my way to creating a new beginning for myself and that’s exactly what I did. I no longer had my monotonous meals and a free gym where I could waste my days.
This was it, this was the change I needed. I stayed in Paris for a year, and came back physically 20 pounds heavier and mentally better but not healed. Over the course of the next year, I spent a lot of time working on myself, and being patient with the challenges I still had to overcome. I began opening up to my family and asking for the help I needed all along and help is exactly what I got.
I am proud to say that today I stand a good 40 pounds heavier than I did at my sickest and mentally feel on top of the world. Even though the past 6 years haven’t been the best and there were multiple times when I felt like giving up, I wouldn’t change anything about my journey. It’s made me who I am today and as I have inked on my shoulder I truly believe that “without struggle there is no progress”