Health helps girl overcome an consuming dysfunction and automotive accident
Andrea Logan is a certified fitness instructor who splits her time between Los Angeles and Charlotte, North Carolina. At 55, she has been an instructor for 35 years helping others become stronger and healthier. She also credits being physically fit for saving her own life twice. Logan shared her story TODAY.
Fitness is a lot of things for everyone. People want to stay thin or just enjoy food or look good in their clothes or compete. Fitness is something completely different for me. Fitness saved my life twice. It actually changed my whole life.
I was a top athlete throughout high school, but when I went to college I had a rude awakening that I had to work harder for the top spot. I gained a little weight and developed an eating disorder, bulimia. I thought it would keep me skinny. It was my own little secret that I controlled, but eventually it just controlled me. It has accompanied me for over 13 years.
I’m 5ft 10 inches and a healthy weight of about 155lbs but I’ve dropped to 115lbs. I looked like a lollipop – someone with a really big head and a small body.
When I binged, I probably ate 20,000 calories at a time at times. I would walk from Burger King to Taco Bell to McDonald’s within 30 minutes. It was a very self-destructive journey. It was terrible. I’m surprised I’m still alive. All of my teeth are now crowns and I lost my gallbladder – it was absolutely riddled with stones – due to vomiting. I had some heart problems.
Still, I wanted to be like GI Jane, strong and muscular – my goal was to be a really strong woman. I trained marines and had to do what they had to do. But I couldn’t be strong at binging and purging – it was never compatible. So I started my journey of wanting to get healthy and fitness kept me mentally strong, it kept me sane. I got well. I realized that food is not the enemy. So I say it was the first time fitness saved my life.
Concerned about the return of the “ugly monster”.
The second time fitness saved my life was after a car accident in 2017. I was sitting in a traffic jam in Los Angeles when another driver texting hit me from behind while driving at 55 to 65 miles per hour drove. I don’t remember her hitting me, but I do remember calling 911 because my hands were starting to tingle. The first thing I thought was, “Oh my god, my throat.”
I had a herniated disc and the disc had penetrated my spine which meant it hit all the nerves. If I hadn’t been so strong, that kind of impact could have broken my neck. I don’t think my body could have endured that kind of force if I was still that weak, fragile girl from my past.
The first doctor I went to said I needed fusion surgery, which means I lost all motion in my neck. I would not have been able to look left, right, up or down. I was like, “Oh my god, I’m going to lose my fitness, which is my best friend.” The scariest part was not knowing if my ugly monster I call the eating disorder would come back because fitness was my sanity.
I went to another doctor who put an artificial disc in my neck and he really was my savior. I had the best surgeon who understood why staying active was so important to me. I came back full force within a year. Today it’s like I never had a neck injury.
The journey with my neck led me to realize how important our spine is and how we need our joints and bones to be strong even as we age. I tell people that you only need to exercise for at least 45 to 50 minutes three to four days a week. It doesn’t always have to be fitness classes, but you do need to lift weights. We must make our bones strong.
If we stay active and eat right, we’re in control. I don’t put people on diets because diets are often unsustainable. I eat modestly, I eat cleanly, I eat tons of veggies. I eat the good carbs, like sweet potatoes and brown rice. I don’t eat a lot of red meat, but I do eat a lot of chicken and fish. Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and watermelons are my favorite fruits.
I never stay away from anything. If I want a candy, I know how to do it in moderation. I cheat mexican food every week which is my favorite.
Fitness is still one of my biggest passions today. It helps us think better and more clearly, and it brings empowerment.
I want people to realize that you can get through anything in life and come out stronger. It doesn’t have to be a setback.
This interview has been edited and shortened for clarity.