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I have totally played around with sharing my “story” forever. Not that it is anything super special, but it did get me where I am today. I think I have been too embarrassed and too worried about what people would think about me, but I have gotten to a point in my life where I have come to the realization that the “blips on the radar” (as my dad calls them) from my past are truly blessings, and they made me. They made me strong. They keep me humble.

Growing up in Ohio, I wanted to do the midwest thing. Go to college, graduate, get married, have kids, move to the suburbs and raise an adorable little family. So that is what I did. Literally two weeks after graduating college, I got engaged to my high school sweetheart, bought a house in almost suburbia, and got married the following summer. 

Check. 

Next comes baby. 

Check. 

I found out I was pregnant, and was over the moon excited. One of my biggest character flaws is the fact that I am a total planner and control freak. I had plans for my life (as noted above), and I was soon going to find out that I indeed was not in control. Not one bit. And it devastated me. 

Being the fitness freak I have always been, I remember getting up on Thanksgiving morning and having to get a workout in. And right in the middle of that workout, is when I started to lose my baby. It took years for me to get over that guilt. I thought for so long that I killed my baby. Little did I know then that God had much bigger plans for me and it just wasn’t time. That didn’t mean I took it easy. I was depressed. For a long time. Remember, I am a planner and a control freak, and a miscarriage wasn’t in my plans. I also don’t like to lose. And I felt like I lost. I had planned on being a mom and having a baby and that was what I was going to do. 

Fast forward 6 months and still no baby. A year. Yup, no baby. But I wasn’t going to give up. Enter fertility specialist. Drugs, shots, procedures, acupuncture, surgery, 7 failed iui attempts. No luck. I was now depressed and obsessed. Not going to quit though. Begin prep for IVF and BAM. World rocked. Husband goes out for the night, doesn’t come home. Next morning tells me he doesn’t love me, doesn’t want to be married and found someone else. 

Slap in face.

I remember sitting on my couch that day sobbing with two really great and supportive friends. One of them said, “I don’t know why this is happening to you, but I see you in 6 years married to the perfect person and so happy.” At the time, it was a really sweet thought, but it didn’t matter. I had a new life to try and deal with. I was humiliated and embarrassed, ashamed and even more depressed. It was the craziest time of my life. I was convinced I had done something wrong. That I was a bad wife. That I was the problem. 

I had no idea of the stress that was about to take on my body. Within weeks I dropped 15 lbs. My skin turned jaundice and I couldn’t keep food in. I was shutting down from the inside out. I learned a lot about myself, and how poorly I deal with stress was a huge lesson. I tried outwardly to pretend that nothing was wrong, but my inside was not going to let me forget that I had to learn to cope.

After a doctor’s visit that displayed a low white blood cell count and a pancreatic cancer scare, test results finally showed that stress had caused an enlarged bile duct which was making me so sick.

Insert how fitness and food saved my life. 

I had to find a way to cope. Obviously acting like nothing was wrong wasn’t doing much for me. First I had to get the confidence in myself back. Enlisting the help of my wonderful and supportive family and friends FINALLY without being embarrassed and talking to a therapist got me back on track. And instead of focusing on what I thought were my failures, I set new goals. I talked with a gastrointestinologist who recommended that I start eating gluten-free to help with my health condition. This was key and essential for getting my strength back and putting weight back on. I started cooking more. Something I have always loved. Something I felt like I had to give up when I was no longer a wife (how stupid?). 

With the fuel from food, I had energy again. And with the new mental strength, I wanted the physical strength too. I was determined to be the strongest I had ever been. So I started running again. In 2012 I ran an unhealthy ½ marathon. But I was back. I started feeling happy again. My fitness was something I could control and was in control of….and I was elated.

Here comes the best part!!! During that time of rediscovering myself, I reconnected with the love of my life and soulmate. I had been so freaked out that nobody would want me if they knew what I had been through. Eric not only was so supportive, but he was proud of me and what I had accomplished.

Fast-forward to now. I am happier than I ever have been in my entire life. I guess that is why I am writing this. I think a person’s past explains the present. If you asked me 4 years ago, I would have never dreamed this is where I would be. On October 24th, the story came full circle when I walked down the aisle to marry Eric. I have never cried tears of happiness in my life. Ever. When those barn doors opened and I saw all of my family and friends who have supported me and the man who stands behind me in everything…I totally lost it. I tear up just thinking about it. One of my best friends, Jordan, and I always joke about our lives using the Drake lyrics, “started from the bottom, now we here.” As ridiculous as it is, it is totally true. In that moment I realized how lucky I was for each and every one of those tough experiences. They built me. 

A fitness instructor in a class I was taking once said, “It doesn’t get easier, you just get stronger.”

That’s life.

Ashley Morgan

My little family is my life. I am so proud to be Mrs. Morgan and am of course obsessed with my little pups Diggy and Samson. I have a ridiculous passion for health and wellness, and am constantly educating myself. After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2007, I returned to Cincinnati to start a career teaching health and physical education. In 2010 I began teaching group fitness classes and have continued to advance my education while perusing certifications in fitness, nutrition and personal training.

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