Phenom. Prodigy. Premier student of life. I rarely use those words to describe someone because I rarely meet a human that fits their descriptions. Then Ally Pesta walks into our lives. Her athletic prowess and abilities are rare. So are her intellect, heart, and mindset. Many big things lie ahead for this young lady.
You see her in the corner of the FMU gym in her zone. Focused. Determined. Ambitious. But you didn't know that not too long ago she was days away from losing her life.
Back in July docs said at her rate she maybe would have made it one more week.
• Her heart rate dropped to 27.
• blood sugar at 18
• body undergoing re-feeding syndrome and edema (Swelling of organs, skin, or other body parts. It is caused by a buildup of fluid in the tissues. The extra fluid can lead to a rapid increase in weight over a short period of time (days to weeks).
• cardiac arrest possibly one workout away.
• Weight at low 116 and body fat approx 7%
What tried to shut her down? An eating disorder. In her pursuit for being fit and healthy she was pursued by consumption over her body type and image. For a minute, it almost won. But then her strong faith stepped in.
Listen to her story through her words. She shares it as a sign of strength that this disease doesn't have her anymore. Not only has she conquered it, she's now on a quest to help other young girls conquer it too.
Here's her blog below and a very powerful 2 minute video that she put together illustrating her journey.
We can all learn from this 18 yr old. Read and share her story today. She's an absolute game-changer.
Ally’s Eating Disorder Story
By Ally Pesta
By Ally Pesta
Eating Disorder. Those two words, though I do not let them define me, make up a large part of who I am. Previously, I used to feel sorry for “the bulimic” and “the anorexic”, ignorantly, since I had not yet walked in their shoes. When my life began to be corrupted by a man whom I call “ED” (eating disorder) the basic values of laughter, happiness, creativity, excitement, and friendship, continuously overlooked, are ones that I had lost. ED is no little joking matter. He is controlling, evil, corrupting, demolishing, depriving and so much more. ED, every minute, 24 hours, 7 days a week, my mind consumed every second.
January 2013. Desiring to originally attend the Naval Academy at Annapolis, after I was accepted into the Naval Academy’s Summer Seminar for prospective students, I began to train harder then previous years. Weights became my new best friend instead of solely running and cardio. Changes evolved within my body and the flabby arms I hated transformed into muscle. As days went on the affinity I had towards the body I received from this new training grew immensely. I began training with a “fitness instructor” to develop my pull up, push up and agility skills necessary to pass the Candidate Fitness Assessment to be accepted into the Academy. Training lasted approximately 1 hour and while I was working out every day, I was ensuring that I mixed up my workouts to prevent over training. My consciousness of food was also prevalent though at this point it was not yet an obsession.
As time passed the workouts began to grow. By March workouts were now two hours and the overtraining was imminent. My workouts by June consisted of 3-hour periods of non-stop work and my goal of the Naval Academy was stripped away as I decided not to attend the Summer Seminar. I jumped from machine to machine to exercise to exercise. Run/sprint 30 min, Stair-Master 40 min, bike 20 min, battle rope 20 min, lift weights 30 min, cross-train workout 30 min and end with a 15 min abs circuit. I documented each and every calorie restricting to 1,200-1,500 a day, 50 grams of solely natural sugar (from fruit) and checked my documents two times over before I put a single morsel of food into my mouth. The necessity to regurgitate the “poison” out of my body if I ate a processed food; the obsession of checking my stomach after every meal and periodically throughout the day to see if I had gotten fat; working out for hours on end, jumping from machine to machine, appearing as “superwoman”, from the outside though feeling torn and exhausted on the inside. My foot hurt, “too bad suck it up and run,” ED screamed. I was tired and could benefit from a rest day. “Don’t you dear rest or you’ll get fat,” ED yelled. The constant battle of thoughts in my mind depleted all sense of pleasure and happiness that I once had. Before meals, ED would force me to do a quick set of push-ups or squats so that I wouldn’t get fat from the meal I would soon be eating. I could no longer laugh. I stopped hanging out with friends, going to church, laughing, smiling and enjoying life. After a workout I would grab my Quest bar and sweet potato and stare at the TV with emptiness. Words flowed through my head but there was no process of what was truly being said. I forgot how to laugh and smiling was painful. I became a stranger to not only my family and friends but also to myself. My friends and family attempted to get me to stop and told me I needed to gain weight but to ED they were solely “idiots” hastening my ability to “look good.” My life had come down to food and exercise and the constant battle in my mind. The battle was never ending.
On July 11, 2013 I boarded a plane to go to Europe with peers from my school on a Spanish trip to Paris, London, Barcelona and Madrid. I clung to my mom, filled with tears and fear of what Europe would entail. I would have to eat foods that I did not prepare and I would not be able to workout. At the time those circumstances seemed like jail. While on the trip I ate the food, because I knew I had to, though ED became stronger each and every day. Since I was eating many more calories than my body had been used to, as well as not expelling as many calories, my body underwent a process known as re-feeding syndrome. With re-feeding syndrome, due to a lack of phosphorous in your system, your body is enable to combined hydrogen, oxygen and phosphorous to make ATP in the Krebs’s cycle which provides your body with energy. So, my body only combined hydrogen and oxygen forming water filling my body with fluid. My legs swelled to twice the size and walking became excruciating. I called my mom various times throughout the trip, as I was extremely fearful as to what was occurring in my body. Luckily the swelling went down throughout the trip as I elevated my legs but I was unable to enjoy my time and eagerly waited to come back to the US. When I got back to the US my mom had doctor appointments made to get blood drawn and finally get this under control. Though, none of us were prepared for what happened next. After the pediatrician told me she believed I had anorexia the next day I was admitted to the hospital for the following week. The weight of my 5’8” medium boned body dropped from around 140 pounds in January to 116 pounds by July. My heart rate dropped from 54 to 27; blood sugar was down at 18 and my blood pressure was down to 44. This was my breaking point and I knew there was no way out, so I confessed to what I had been undergoing these past few months.
The disorder and the symptoms themselves do not portray my story but rather the characteristics, lessons and life-changing outlooks I have gained. To hear the words, lying in the hospital bed, “You have a second chance at life,” are at first difficult to fathom. As I witness this clichéd line in movies and books, I never dreamt that those words would apply to me. While ED depleted my life physically and mentally he also deprived it of its social aspects. The planner that I once was amongst my friends group could barely make plans for herself. ED had completely stripped away the bubbly, effervescent and energetic girl the world used to know. Though luckily by the grace of God and my loved ones I was able to get sufficient help. I attacked ED full on and though I “got past” ED he will always be a part of me. The battle was long and at times it is still going on. Though from this battle I gained a newfound understanding of perseverance and determination. My eyes were opened to the little things in life such as the power of a paintbrush to calm your nerves. I am able to laugh again and smiling no longer takes a strenuous amount of effort. Not only did I learn to redo these things but as well as their importance. I learned to never take life for granted as I gained a deeper sense of appreciation. I have gained strength and realization that not everything has to make sense or be in your own control 24/7. Most importantly I have found a true understanding of family and friendship. Throughout my journey, my loved ones have never left my side. Accomplishing goals on your own are great achievements though the best achievements are those accomplished with the people you love. These lessons may seem cliché or ones we hear continuously though I never fully gained a true understanding of them until now. Sometimes in life we require a fatal experience to give us a “slap in the face” to wake up and realize the beauty of all that is in front of us. Anorexia does not define me. Exercise addict does not define me. Bulimia does not define me. What define me are appreciation, simplicity, energy, liveliness, fellowship, determination, strength, faith and the ability to be whomever I so choose to be. So from here on out those words will lead my journey, not ED.