We met Courtney Candullo while she was selling her "No Matter What" brand apparel at a Fitness Competition in Central New Jersey. Her awesome designs and muscular physique made Courtney instantly stand out of the crowd. What we didn't know at the time was just how much she has had to overcome and that "No Matter What" isn't just a slogan on a shirt - it's her way of life. Courtney's journey from having an eating disorder to being a physically fit entrepreneur is pretty inspiring. This is her story.
My Own Worst Enemy
My fitness journey has been a hell of a ride thus far. I was active growing up but I never had "thin/lean" genetics, so I was always a pudgy kid. In middle school I became anorexic; I didn't choose to become anorexic, but it kind of just happened and before I knew it I had dug myself into a deep hole. I was so skeletal that if I sucked in you could feel my back bone. And sick things like that became goals for me. I set little stupid goals like that for myself, and if I didn't meet my unnatural standards, I wasn't good enough. My thigh had to spread a certain width when I sat down; my hip bones had to protrude out a certain way.
At my worst, I ended up with a distended stomach like a starving third-world child. If I even ate one meal in those days I would follow it with running up and down the stairs (thirteen times) and endless crunches in my room. I would make sandwiches and bring them up to my room, wrap them in tinfoil, stuff them in soap boxes, hide them in my closet, and bring down the remainder of crumbs just to make it look like I ate something. It got to the point where I couldn't keep up with it anymore. Everyone was watching me, weekly weigh-ins. My lack of being able to control that led me into a spiral of not being able to control anything, which is when I turned to substance. I won't get too much into detail there, but I consider myself lucky to be alive with all the destructive decisions I made.
Ready To Change
One day I woke up and I was really fed up with always being watched, always being accused, always feeling guilty. It wasn't a good feeling; so I decided to quit everything cold turkey. I had no idea who I was anymore because I spent the last 4 years of my life living in a delusional world, I had to leave everything that I knew, disassociate with all the people I hung around with. I became a recluse, my self esteem was at an all time low. I would sleep all day, and binge eat at night, which lead to extreme weight gain (60 lbs in just a few months), add that onto an already non existent self-worth. Sad to say, I hated myself. My hate for myself was so deep, I didn't want to share that me with anyone. I wouldn't even go to a family events; I wanted to hide from the world. It's painful wanting to be invisible.
Thankfully, my mom got me a trainer, and that was the only time I would leave the house. I'd go out in sweatpants and baggy shirts and I would just go to the gym and sweat it out. At first I only went a couple times a week, but then I got addicted. I eventually broke off from my trainer, and I would go there by myself and just beat myself up for hours (now I have a more methodized approach to training but that's what I needed back then). I took a year off from school just doing that. Training truly saved me. It was my way out of a very dark place. Nothing felt better than pushing myself, and just releasing all that negative energy, seeing my body do things it couldn't do before.
The focus shifted from 'what does my body look like' to what can my body do for me. My mind also grew very strong as I had to choose positive and empowering thoughts even when those weren't the natural at the time; it truly does all start in the mind. Now I feel like I have a great handle over nutrition and training. In the beginning I still struggled with binge eating for a long time, but as I went along I kept making better bad choices each day. It's always a goal to become just a little better than you were the day before.
I continue to be motivated by the people that I see grinding it out everyday. While I was on my own journey towards wellness, my mom and brother both underwent their own amazing fitness transformations. Watching them continue to make good decisions and stay healthy is a huge source of motivation for me.
New Fitness Challenges
I do a lot of stuff because I like to be well-rounded, and also I love doing things that are challenging to me. I do a mixture of Bodybuilding, CrossFit, Spinning, Olympic Lifting, and Yoga. I also go on lots of hikes with my boxer!
I have opened up and shared my story with a number of women struggling with their weight, anorexia, and body image issues. With all that I have been through, the most gratifying thing that I can do is to help other people. This is one of the main reasons why I love personal training (another profession of mine); because it allows me to take part in people's journey to their best self.
The desire to help and motivate others led me to explore ways to expand my reach beyond personal training. Ultimately this caused me to expand my entrepreneurial horizons and launch No Matter What Fitness apparel.
Turning A Mindset Into a Brand
The idea for "No Matter What" was birthed out of my own struggle. It is the mindset I use to conquer my battles. I created the apparel company in 2013 as a means to blend my two passions: fitness and art/design. I've always been an artist and at a young age I knew that I wanted to work with art and graphic design. I didn't know that I would fall in love with fitness. It just seemed appropriate to mesh them together.
We offer designs that are made with originality and creativity. Some of our designs are sentimental and are made with positive message intended to fuel and motivate. Other designs are done with humor and an aesthetic; overall there is a wide range to choose from. All of our gear is made with great quality, and printed in-house by co-owner, Fred!
Designed for Everyone
For the most part we set up at gyms, boxes, bodybuilding shows & CrossFit competitions. I have to say my favorite set up is the CrossFit competitions; it is very entertaining to watch athletes at work! Wherever we go, we love meeting people from all walks of life, and hearing their stories. The great thing about No Matter What is it is applicable to everybody. Every single person has a story, or a struggle, and the No Matter What mindset is what you need to get you through.
The Road Ahead
"No Matter What" is still a baby in my eyes, just a little over 2 years old. It's definitely been a learning process getting it off the ground, but we continue to grow steadily. I believe so much in it, and what it stands for, I will do whatever it takes to make it work, NO MATTER WHAT!
- Use promo code FCC15 to save 15% on your order. Cannot be combined with other promotions.
This was originally supposed to be an article highlighting entrepreneurship in the alternative fitness world. We put that idea on the back-burner after hearing Courtney's story. She is the type of strong and determined woman that we love to highlight at Fitness Cult Chronicles.
In no way are we being compensated for writing this article. That means no affiliate fees, advertising dollars or free products. Nothing. We just hope that someone struggling out there can read this and use it as motivation to make some positive changes.
Looking for other stories and interviews of strong women? Here you go:
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