Food & Fitness

Guest Post: Finding My Calling

Today’s guest post is from hydrantgirl, a friend whom I have known pretty much all my life. She is awesome. Check out her blog,, to see the guest post that I wrote for her blog today!

Hello, my name is hydrantgirl. I’m 32 years old, a certified firefighter and paramedic, a cowgirl, an infertile, and a wannabe blogger.

I’ve always struggled with my body, as I’m sure 99% of the female population has. Growing up I was athletic – dancing, swimming and figure skating competitively. You want to win? You need the strength to launch your body in the air, make 2 1/2 revolutions, land on a slim piece of metal and make it look easy. In my teenage years I got into horseback riding and rodeos. You want your horse to eat? You need muscles to pitch hay bales. You want to handle your 1200 lb horse when he decides to rear up? You need anchor weight.

I joke that I was a size 4 for about 10 seconds in my life – somewhere at the age of 8 when I had the flu for a week. As I stand beside people who are much more graceful then me, I feel frumpy. I fight the scale and I’ve been referred to as “sturdily built”, but I am ok with my muscular frame as I knew for some reason I was given these broad shoulders and strong arms.

Because of my infertility, years of misdiagnosis and a plethora of drugs including steroids and fertility hormones, I gained weight that I will never lose. I have a hormone disorder that causes my infertility and confuses my body on how to convert and transport sugars and insulin. As much as I loath the years I spent fighting to have a child, those are battles that made me into who I am today. I’ve grieved the loss of every child I dreamed of having, I lost relationships because I was angry that people didn’t understand my pain, and have had my heart broken beyond belief. I don’t understand why it happened to me, but I’ve stopped asking what I had done to deserve this.

Four years ago my world as I knew it fell apart. As with many going through a life changing event, I didn’t know how to cope mentally or physically; instead of trying to understand the grief I turned to food. I wasn’t picky – ketchup potato chips, Kit Kat Bars, M&M cookies… It wasn’t until I sat crying with my friend “Oh Henry” that I realized the world was still turning, and life went on whether I was ready for it or not. I had no home, no husband and the last 30 years of dreaming that I would be a mother were gone. I had to pick myself up, dust off the cookie crumbs (literally) and get on with my new life.

I started dating a man I knew from high school who is a career firefighter. I was struggling to find my identity and he was being very patient as I tossed around career ideas (I had a good gig with the government, but it wasn’t what I wanted anymore). Maybe I’d become a tow truck driver! I’ve always wanted to be a police officer. I’m smart enough to be a thoracic surgeon….. It wasn’t until my beau suggested I join him on the fire department that I had my epiphany moment.
The moment I decided to pursue this career it hit me – this is what I’m meant to do. I was given this body for this reason.

The years I spent neglecting my diet caused my disorder to become more severe, and showed on the scale. I had spent 6 years mistreating my body and eating terribly – high carbohydrates, little to no protein and scarce vegetables. As I researched the physical tests for the fire department I was motivated. I had a mission and a purpose; I needed my body for good, not evil.

As I train for the fire department’s physical aptitude test, I realize how important this frumpy, non-dancer body is for this career. I need a body that won’t quit when I’m doing CPR or carrying a person down a flight of stairs. I need a body that has the strength to hold an 80 lb extrication tool to free a trapped victim, or manage a charged hose line when fighting an interior attack. This is my body.

My firefighter and I married a year ago and as I look through wedding pictures I realize that my strapless dress shows my wide shoulders and big arms. I momentarily regret not losing weight for the wedding. I’ve been going to the gym but the cardio I’ve been doing has been more about strength and endurance for the physical aptitude test than it has been about burning calories. I’ve been lifting weights but it’s been to gain strength to carry hoses, ladders and tools, and not to tone up for bathing suit season. I’ve been eating healthier, but not counting calories.

It’s a well-known fact that women have to work harder to prove themselves and be successful in the fire service. They need a body that is muscular to do the job and ensure their brothers are safe. They need the strength and endurance to do a man’s job because lives depend on that power and stamina. I am not graceful, but who needs grace on the scene of a multi-vehicle car accident? Who needs grace when manning a charged hose line to save someone’s home? Who needs grace when I need to carry a downed firefighter out of a burning building?

It took me many years to also accept that my value as a woman isn’t based on my ability to have children, and neither your health nor your identity as a woman is measured by a number on a scale. Sagan keeps me in check – healthy isn’t about fitting into a certain standard that society has for you. It’s about eating right and being fit – not skinny.

Becoming a firefighter and paramedic has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done – mentally and physically. For the past 2 years I’ve spent every waking moment studying everything from Anatomy to HAZMAT to pump pressures and I’ve had to push my body to limits that at 32 years of age I’d have to do. I have no regrets.

So to all the women reading this – find out what you’re meant to do. If it’s not a supermodel, why are we trying to achieve unrealistic expectations? We all know that there is nothing wrong with being strong! Be proud of yourselves.

Thanks, hydrantgirl!


  1. Lance

    Hey there hydrantgirl,
    Love the message you are sending here…and the place that you are at now…

    Life is a journey, and the path you are on is one that is very much filled with what is right and good.

    The message at the end that you’ve shared…so, so good. Each one of us is unique and amazing…

  2. asithi

    hydrantgirl – You’re an inspiration! Being almost 32 years old myself, I still find myself worrying about my weight sometimes. I went through a few gloomy years myself when I was recovering from a car accident where I ate my way through everything and had a permanent Starbucks frappicianos straw in my mouth like an IV. But without this, I don’t think I would appreciate the good life that I am living now.

  3. Pingback: Relying on order | Living Healthy in the Real World

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