Laura’s story brought tears to my eyes. The poor body image she grew up with turns into a healthy mindset after giving birth to her adorable daughter Claire. Grab a box of tissues for this one.
Meet Laura Knapp:
I grew up with parents that did not promote a healthy lifestyle. We ate unhealthy food and physical activity was never encouraged. Throughout my childhood, food was used to comfort me as a way to cope with my emotions. I was overweight the majority of my childhood. Although I wasn’t obese, I was overweight enough to feel a lack of confidence in my body. My mother used to refer to my thighs as thunder thighs.
When I was 13, I developed asthma. My mother was a chain smoker, so I attribute my asthma, at least part of it, to her smoking. Once I was diagnosed with asthma, that became my excuse for not being physically active. I couldn’t even run a mile in gym class without having to walk part of it.
I gained the freshman 15 when I went to college. My eating habits were typical of a college student; however, I was a bit more active. Ironically, my favorite class in college was a weightlifting class!
After college, I was fortunate to land a teaching job in Maryland in an excellent school with fantastic people. I was two hours away from my hometown and my parents. I didn’t know a soul in Maryland. It was one of the scariest things I had ever done in my life. I had some amazing coworkers who took me under their wings. I went on a low carb diet and lost all the college weight and then some. Still not the healthiest of lifestyles, but I was slowly learning.
When my then fiancé moved down to Maryland to live with me, I became fat and happy. However, we were also active, walking almost every night. I wanted to run but really could only jog for a few seconds before I let my fear get the best of me. I went to weight watchers before my wedding and that, coupled with wedding stress, got me to the weight I hadn’t seen since high school. I felt beautiful in my skin on my wedding day.
In the early days of married life we stayed active; we walked and rode bikes, but we ate A LOT. Have I mentioned that my husband is an amazing cook? That, coupled with grad school, had me slowly gaining weight again. When I became pregnant with my son Aiden, I was my all- time heaviest weight. After Aiden was born I went back on weight watchers and lost the baby weight but I still had more weight to lose. My body was squishy and didn’t feel like it belonged to me. Add a second masters degree, working full time, a miscarriage, and I pretty much stayed at a heavy weight for the next three years until I became pregnant with my daughter Claire. My pregnancy with Claire was a long time coming, and I was riddled with crippling anxiety. This became a blessing in disguise, because I sought out counseling for anxiety, which eventually led to talking about some other issues, many of which contributed to my weight struggles.
When Claire was born, it was love at first sight. We didn’t know what we were having, and although I swore I was having a boy, I secretly hoped she was a girl. I longed for a mother-daughter relationship, as I have no relationship with my mother. I yearned for a mini-me side kick. Claire was the healing of my pain, the completion of my heart. She’s my soul and I thank God for her everyday. She is the absolute happiest girl on the planet. Her shiny demeanor is catching. She constantly snuggles me which was foreign to me, because physical affection is not something I ever received from my parents, so it’s as if she is giving me what she knows I needed as a child.
The baby weight did not go away after Claire was born. In fact, I weighed the same on the day we brought her home from the hospital as I did a year later when she turned one. Despite trying (and abandoning) couch to 5k programs as well as weight watchers, I felt awful in my skin. I feared I would pass my body image issues onto Claire. I knew it was time for change. I wanted to be a role model for my daughter.
I took a huge leap (for me) and joined a gym. I became regularly active for the first time in my life. This was in August 2012. That Thanksgiving, I ran my first 5k. My time wasn’t spectacular, but my family was there to cheer for me. I loved the healthy example I was setting for them. My husband who at the time hated running, would run to support me and then he caught the running bug and ran his first half marathon. I decided to go gluten free and finally started losing weight.
In October 2013, I joined a CrossFit gym. This was a life changing moment for me. I felt like I finally found my home. Encouragement seeps from that walls at CrossFit Bel Air. I have never once heard a discouraging remark from a member. Every single person in there gives everything they have and they are so encouraging of others. It was EXACTLY what I need in which to thrive.
My journey hasn’t been easy, and I am still far from my destination. I am motived every day by not only the fantastic athletes that surround me and support me at my gym, but also my family. My husband is my biggest supporter, he cooks a healthy dinner almost every night (somewhat paleo) and will do whatever it takes to ensure that I am able to get my workout in.
I chose my belly as my favorite body part. It is my most flawed, but it is definitely my favorite. My belly has stretch marks and flab, and will probably never be flat, but my belly gave me my children. One of them being a daughter who saved my life. She is responsible for me finding my happy self and being comfortable in my skin. I live my life to hopefully inspire her, in hopes that she will grow up to be comfortable in her own body and learn how beautiful strong can be.