Posts Tagged With: self-confidence

Putting Myself ‘Out There’

For more than three years now, I have been keeping a secret.

I have a blog.

While those of you who follow me on Twitter — my main forum for publicizing the goings-on here at “The Final Forty” — may be scratching your heads right now, allow me to explain.

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2007, size 20W

I started blogging in January of 2010 after my weight loss progress on Weight Watchers halted to a standstill. I had shed 80 pounds in 2008, followed by a SLOOOW 10 pounds in 2009, and then after that…nothing. Nada. Zilch. I did absolutely everything I could think to do to kickstart my weight loss again, and yet that scale just would not budge.

Meanwhile, throughout the process of losing so much weight in such a short period of time, I was forced to face an endless string of emotional issues. As I watched my body shrink from a size 20/22W to a size 8/10M, all of the issues that had led me to become so overweight in the first place came rushing to the surface. I had been drowning my emotions in food for so long that once that crutch was no longer there, I didn’t know how to deal with it all. Desperate to keep the weight off, I went in search of anything I could do to make sure my various issues didn’t become so overwhelming that I ended up returning to my old ways…as I had done so many times in the past.

And that is why I started blogging. It was for no reason than to serve as a place for me to sort through all of the issues that go along with making such a drastic lifestyle change so quickly. I told a select handful of people about my blog, assuming that nobody would ever care to venture into the inner-workings of my mind, and that was that. I posted a new blog every week or two…or month or two…and it continued to serve as a personal diary of sorts.

The reason I write this post today is because I am tired of hiding. I have spent the majority of my life hiding behind my weight and using it as an excuse not to do what I really want to do.

I was bullied day in and day out for years for being “the fat girl,” and it’s hard for me to admit it, but I am so not over the pain and humiliation that comes from being singled out and having what I believed was my worst flaw pointed out to me over and over again in the cruelest ways imaginable. I am not over it. I probably never will be.

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2012, size 10M

I always wondered if some of my former classmates would ever stumble upon my blog, and that thought used to terrify me…but it is within the last few months that I’ve realized that, in many ways, I owe a part of my success to them. I use the pain of what they put me through to fuel me today…and while I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, facing that kind of adversity from such a young age has forced me to work so much harder and made me so much stronger than I ever thought I could be.

This whole quest to lose “the final forty” has been frustrating, to say the least, but it has also been the most rewarding and fulfilling experience of my life…and I wouldn’t trade my journey for anything. Whether the scale reflects it or not, my body continues to change, and five years later, I can say that my mind is FINALLY starting to catch up with the person I am on the outside.

I owe a lot of that to the incredible support and encouragement that I started to find as soon as I began opening myself up to others, whether it was on Twitter or Facebook or through the countless amazing blogs I read written by people who continue to inspire me to chase my goals every single day, whether it’s pitching my dream magazine or registering for my next half marathon.

princesshalf4My blog is starting to grow now — in fact, I’ll be sharing a new brand ambassadorship here very soon! — and while it will always be a little strange posting personal thoughts and feelings to be read by people I know in “real life,” I’m not afraid anymore. Believe it or not, until today, I never even advertised my own blog on my personal Facebook page…I was judged for so long that it was hard not to obsess over what people would think about my musings on such personal topics as loose skin, or my most embarrassing “before” photos.

But you know what…this is me today, and as hard as it is for me to admit it sometimes, I’m proud of myself. I’m proud of how far I’ve come, I’m proud of who I am, and after 20+ years of hating my body, I’ve finally reached a place where I can accept myself just the way I am…and I don’t care who knows it. I mean, if I can post pictures of myself in a bathing suit for all the world to see, then I shouldn’t be afraid of anything, right?

People sometimes tell me that I am an inspiration to them (in fact, this awesome runner I’ve been following actually wrote a blog post inspired by something I talked about here, and that is just so unbelievably flattering to me…thank you!), and while it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the notion of inspiring someone else, I do believe I have something to offer the world…and I plan to do just that.

princesshalfI don’t think I would be where I am today in my running journey if it wasn’t for the community of runners who are always willing to share advice and words of encouragement and, yes, even to talk me off the ledge, so to speak, when I was convinced that I’d never be able to finish a 5k…or a 10k…or a half marathon.

I want to fully engage in that community, and I want to fully commit to my running goals — and it all starts with not being afraid to put myself out there.

Discovering my passion for running (and martial arts!) has helped me to conquer so many of my demons, and maybe I’m as addicted to running as I once was addicted to food — jury’s still out on how healthy THAT is! — but I don’t know where I’d be if I didn’t finally discover something that has helped give meaning to my transformation and my future as a healthy, active person.

So…if you’re reading this, and would be so kind as to connect with me, here’s where to find me. No more hiding!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jenniferlnelson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheFinalForty

E-mail: thefinalforty at gmail dot com

Professional website: www.jenniferlnelson.com

Do you ever have a hard time posting about personal topics when people you know in “real life” are reading?

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Stop Making Excuses…and Cheating Yourself Out of Success

If you want to ensure that you never reach your goals, do exactly what I’ve been doing: let your life be taken over by excuses.

On July 4, I ran the local Firecracker 4-Miler race in my hometown for the second year. Despite the fact that last year’s event was my very first race ever, and that it was the exact same course and we were experiencing very similar weather (hot and humid!), I showed absolutely no improvement from last year. In fact, I came in at almost exactly the same time, to the second. I struggled from start to finish, and couldn’t keep myself from stopping to catch my breath or surreptitiously take a break to “tie my sneakers” during the race.

As I was beating myself up afterwards, and trying to come up with excuses for not achieving what I thought would be an easy goal for me — beating last year’s time — I couldn’t help the niggling feeling that I was simply trying to not take responsibility for not working hard enough. All this time, I’ve been going out on 2 or 3 mile runs here and there. I wasn’t being consistent — sometimes weeks would pass without running at all — and I wasn’t exactly adhering to any of the advice I was skimming in my monthly issue of Runner’s World or any of my countless running-related Google searches about how to improve my speed or perform better on race day.

In short, I started to think about how I’ve been making excuses and only doing things “halfway” for quite some time…and how running is only one example.

It sometimes takes months for me to send out a fresh batch of article pitches to my dream magazines. I’m constantly telling myself I’ll e-mail that editor “tomorrow,” or finish that story query “after I do more research.” But then I end up convincing myself that it’s a stupid idea, or the editor is “just going to ignore me, anyway,” so it never actually gets done. Meanwhile, I always make promises to myself about blogging more often, since it’s something I love to do…but take one look at my past posting history and you’ll see that I can’t seem to manage more than one post a month.

When it comes to Weight Watchers, my attempts to reach my goal of 100 pounds lost are quite laughable. I’m only casually counting POINTS, and I’m doing way more guesstimating than ever. I still measure out everyday staples like 3/4 cup of cereal, but then when it comes time to enjoy some frozen yogurt after dinner, I somehow seem to forget where the measuring cups are located, because “I worked out today, so I deserve a treat.” I’ve also been allowing myself a few-too-many binges on weekends, from extra glasses of wine to munching handfuls of Angie’s Kettle Corn on the beach. That excuse is an easy one: “It’s the weekend!”

For months, I have been putting in shorter and shorter workouts (when I’m not in kickboxing class, that is), justifying their brevity with classic excuses like “I don’t have time.”

But then I wonder why I’m never landing those writing assignments, why the scale won’t budge, and why my fitness level (or ability to run a 4-miler without wanting to die!) has completely plateaued.

So, I decided to do something to take down the Excuses Monster once and for all. I decided to start by choosing one goal — in this case, being a better runner — and not allowing any more excuses.

I’m proud to report that I have chosen quite a lofty goal, and for the past three weeks, have been diligently working towards making it a reality. With no excuses!

It started with stumbling upon some race recaps on running blogs about the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Feb. 2013, and knowing that it was something I absolutely, positively had to do. I have harbored a deep-seated Disney obsession since I was in diapers, and running through the Magic Kingdom would be a dream come true. I just have to do it.

That’s right. I am going to run a half marathon.

Before I convinced myself that “I’m not good enough, fast enough, experienced enough, etc. to run a half marathon,” I set out in search of a training plan and for the past three weeks have been running 5 times a week, with mileage ranging from 2 miles to 6 miles. I invested in a Dry-Erase board to chart my monthly training runs, and I became a member of the Daily Mile to track my progress on-line. I created a little inspiration corner in my office with photos, brochures of races I want to run, medals, and even a painting my sister made of me crossing the finish line, and I use them as a daily reminder of how much I want to reach this goal.

And it’s already paying off. I competed once again in the Downtown Westfield 5k and Pizza Extravaganza, and the race that took me 33:03 last year only took 29:15. It wasn’t easy, and the course was incredibly hilly, but I didn’t once feel the need to stop. I felt comfortable and confident, because I knew, deep down, that I had put in the work…and wasn’t letting anything stand in my way.

There are no end to the excuses I could make to talk myself out of training for a 13 mile run — especially when the longest race I’ve ever participated in was a measly three miles. Aside from the physical agony and very real possibility of me not making it to the finish line, it’s out of state and extremely expensive…and basically another excuse for me to take a vacation.

But if I’m ever going to move forward, whether it’s in my writing career, weight loss, or fledgling attempts at running, I have got to stop talking myself out of everything…and cheating myself out of my own happiness.

Have you ever made up excuses or talked yourself out of doing something you really wanted to do?

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The Beginning of the End

First, I want to wish everyone a happy new year, and apologize for the brief hiatus I’ve taken from my blog.

I’d like to brush off my absence with a simple “oops, I’ve been busy,” which is certainly true, but the good news is that I have been preoccupied making some much-needed overhauls to my life. With just a few major victories tossed in!

First and foremost, I finally summoned the courage to walk away from a part-time job that had become physically and mentally draining. Yes, I know this technically makes me a quitter, but the whole reason I accepted a 5:30am shift working the desk at a local gym is, quite frankly, I doubted my ability to financially succeed as a writer so much that I was willing to sacrifice my social life, my sleep, and my sanity for the sake of having a few extra bucks in my bank account each month.

The truth is that a few months ago I became tired of just peering over the edge of my dreams — I needed to take a leap of faith. And committing myself to my writing career wholly and completely seemed to be the solution. I couldn’t be happier with my decision.

In fact, several weeks ago I found the courage to pitch a story idea to one of my dream magazines — a national health/fitness publication — and after lots of follow-up e-mails, I actually landed the assignment! I intend to let this victory become a turning point in my career — it’s time to have faith in my abilities as a writer.

The same goes for finding the courage to participate in the handful of 5Ks and four-miler races I competed in last year. The most meaningful one took place in November, when I ran a 5K and raised over $500 to support the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

My grandpa succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2004, and losing him remains the most painful experience of my life. Over the past several years, I’ve promised myself that I was going to do something — namely, a 5K — to take action against this disease and honor his memory, but I kept telling myself I’d never be able to actually complete a race or solicit enough donations to make a difference.

In 2011, I finally ran that race. It felt incredible to be surrounded by so many people who had been touched by pancreatic cancer and were coming together to fight back. Best of all, I know for a fact that Pop was with me that day; I will never, ever forget the moment when I crossed the finish line and suddenly his absolute favorite musician, Johnny Cash, started blaring over the loudspeaker. I had just finished listening to my race day playlist of Johnny Cash songs on my iPod, and when I pulled out my earbuds and realized that “I Walk the Line” had come on just in time for me to finish my 5K, it was the first time in the seven years since his death that I knew undeniably that he was with me. And that I had made him proud.

In another significant running achievement, I was also awarded my very first medal for placing third in my age group after competing in a four-mile race sponsored by the Central Jersey Road Runners Club — I’m now officially a member!

Granted, I know I probably placed because there weren’t a whole lot of people racing that day — and there definitely weren’t many runners my age — but I did improve my time significantly (35:29) from my very first four-mile race on the 4th of July (40:31), and it’s an indescribable feeling when I can genuinely experience pride in an accomplishment I’ve made.

I’ve gone through life feeling unworthy of praise from others, and I’ve never fully been able to give myself credit. But I’ve worked hard to be a better runner in the last six months, and I’d say I earned that medal!

This month also marks a full year that I’ve been studying Muay Thai kickboxing. I remember being so terrified of breaking a measly little wooden board to earn my first belt (in fact, I blogged about it), and today I’m a red belt, which officially makes me an advanced martial arts student. I do very much want to be a black belt someday, and even I can admit improvement in my techniques — and my overall confidence — since January 2011. I absolutely love my kickboxing classes, and they have transformed me both physically and mentally in more ways than I thought possible. I’m so glad I’ve stuck with it.

In fact, I hope to make 2012 the year of following through on all of my goals — and above all, finishing what I’ve started. An anniversary weekend with my boyfriend, another Disney World vacation, and lots of holiday hooplah have led me to slip a bit (okay, a lot) in my healthy eating and workout routine, but I’m back on track and ready to continue making progress this year!

November marked my four-year anniversary as a Weight Watchers member, and while I am thrilled and proud to still be living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining my weight loss, I want nothing more than to become a Lifetime member — which means reaching my goal weight. Whatever that is!

In the last year or two I’ve become so focused on my fitness-related goals and, honestly, enjoying my new size 8/10 body so much, that I think I may have lost sight of the prize. I know that I will weigh never 125 pounds, and I also know that my loose skin and stretch marks will always serve as battle scars from years of yo-yo dieting. But this year I vow to reach a healthy weight and finally begin the process of becoming a Lifetime member…and, maybe, even starting to work towards becoming a Weight Watchers leader.

For possibly the first time ever, I’m not afraid to set a goal…and believe that I will see it through to the end.

What are some of your goals for 2012? Please share!

*Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter @jenniferlnelson, or e-mail me at jennifer@jenniferlnelson.com. Thank you, as always, for reading!

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The Right to Bare Arms (and Stomach, and Thighs…)

As the summer months officially come to an end, I decided it was finally time to step back on the scale.

And, unsurprisingly, I was greeted by an additional five pounds.

It’s what I was expecting, given my week-long jaunts in Vegas, Atlantic City, and Orlando, the endless string of barbecues and late-night fro-yo runs, my less-than-rigid workout routine. Now that I’m back into the swing of things — my long-awaited return to Weight Watchers, first and foremost — I’m fully confident that I’ll ditch those extra pounds (and then some) in no time.

That’s what still continues to amaze me. For the first time in my life, if I see the number on the scale nudge up a bit, I don’t panic. I don’t say “the hell with it” and start eating everything in sight, as I’ve done so many times in the past. I simply chalk it up to a few (okay, maybe more than a few) poor eating choices and lackluster workouts, and I pledge to get back on track ASAP.

I can finally acknowledge that I’m strong enough to lose (and re-lose) weight. I believe in myself. Who knew?

The truth is, this summer marked a whole new leg of my weight loss journey…even if I didn’t actually lose any weight. Whether the scale is moving or not, it seems nearly every day I’m slapped with a new realization about my body and just how much has changed.

Yesterday, for example, on a somewhat chilly afternoon that didn’t exactly warrant capri pants, I was amazed to pick up a pair of jeans from last year and easily slip them on. No lying on the bathroom floor trying fruitlessly to yank the zipper up, no jamming my rolls of flesh into the too-tight waistband, or rubbing raw indentations in my stomach after I removed them. I stepped right in, zipped them up, and was on my way.

And all this after so many years of having to buy a larger size for school every September, or sheepishly “losing” last season’s jeans, or — I’m ashamed to admit — destroying more pairs of pants than I can count when my denial about needing a larger size led to popped buttons or seams that blew open.

For the third September in a row, I’ve been able to re-wear clothes from the previous year, and that, to me, is an ultimate victory.

But this summer, perhaps my greatest achievement is that — for the first time in my 26 years of existence — I was confident enough to sport a bikini top at the beach.

Now, before you get too excited, let me preface this by stating that I had to search far and wide for a top with the extra coverage I still craved (athletic-style suits did the trick!), and I still felt the need to camouflage my generous thighs and loose, stretch-marked paunch with a high-rise skirted bottom. But who cares? I’ve worked hard for the body I have at this very moment — even if it isn’t “perfect” — and I don’t care who sees it.

Then there’s the fact that it’s almost surreal to me to do a load of laundry and fold my size small — SIZE SMALL! — tank tops from Old Navy. My summer uniform once consisted of baggy t-shirts or short-sleeved polos hidden beneath cardigan sweaters, for fear that anyone should catch so much as a glimpse of one of my behemoth, saggy arms. I sometimes can’t believe that I’ll slip into a strapless dress or racerback running tank and walk out the door without a second thought. My Muy Thai uniform is sleeveless, and where I would once be mortified to be waving my bare arms around for all the world to see, now I can look in the mirror — even at my loose tricep skin — and accept the way my arms look. Sometimes, at just the right angle, I think they even look pretty strong and muscular.

Oh, and then there’s the small detail that I ran not one, but two races this summer. And I already have a few other 5Ks lined up for the fall. At my very first race, a four-miler on the Fourth of July, I met my goal of jogging the entire course. Granted, I wasn’t the fastest runner, but it didn’t matter — I gathered up my courage and was able to squash my self-doubt long enough to cross that finish line, and I’ll be damned if I let 10-minute miles spoil that.

Did I mention that I even had the audacity to wear shorts to that race? Me, good old “Thunder Thighs,” wearing shorts. In public! Oh, the humanity.

Bikinis, shorts, tank tops — and, certainly, running races — were things I never thought possible. I was, after all, a 22-year-old shopping in the Women’s Plus section for swimsuits, and constantly pretending I was cold to justify wearing long sleeves or ankle-length capris in August. There was a time not too long ago that I couldn’t run a single mile without gasping for air, and now I’m breezing through 5Ks as if it’s completely normal for me to be running alongside other athletes.

Believe it or not, I am slowly but surely beginning to accept my body. I know I’m by no means thin, and I never will be. Maybe I have no business baring so much of my body at the beach or flapping my batwings in kickboxing classes, but for the first time in my life, I’m not constantly obsessing over how every little inch of my body looks at every moment of the day.

My tummy flap and jiggly thighs are clearly here to stay, and I’m finally making peace with the fact that I will never have the “perfect” body, no matter how much more weight I lose.

But guess what? I think I might just be perfectly fine with that.

The important thing is that my weight is no longer holding me back from anything I want to do or achieve in my life, and I’m excited to see just what else I can accomplish on my journey.

With or without the cooperation of a scale.

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Fake it ‘Til You Make It: Running My First 5K

I did it again! After running my first four-miler on the Fourth of July — and proving to myself that I didn’t die or, worse, come in dead last — I finally had the courage to run my first 5K. And, appropriately, it just so happened to be the 10th Annual Downtown Westfield 5k and Pizza Extravaganza…meaning there was gooey, cheesy pizza (and cookies!) awaiting us at the finish line. Now if that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is.

Even though this race was a shorter distance than my last, mentally, it proved much tougher than I anticipated. I’ve been putting off registering for a 5K for years now, always assuming that I was still too fat to run a race and that I’d just make a fool of myself amongst the “real” runners. That’s why despite the fact that New Jersey is in the midst of a brutal heat wave, and the sticky 90+ degree temperatures have been making movement of any kind utterly unbearable, I knew this race was something I had to do. I also knew that my running sneakers are in desperate need of replacing — which was evidenced by the blister I earned in mile two — and that I haven’t been running as often since I became addicted to kickboxing and spinning.

In the end, though, it wasn’t the sweat pouring down my face or the stinging pain of a newly-formed blister that I had to overcome: it was myself. I had to once again go head-to-head with the old Jen, who had no qualms about telling me that I couldn’t run a real, official 5K race, and that I didn’t really belong there.

That’s when the mantra that my Muay Thai Kickboxing instructor constantly barks to newbies — “Fake it ’til you make it!” — started running through my mind. Maybe I wouldn’t meet my goal of beating my average 10-minute miles this time (I definitely didn’t), and maybe I didn’t look as good crossing the finish line as some of the more seasoned runners, but with time and training (and some new kicks), I can and will become better and stronger and faster.

I decided right then and there that, for now, I’m going to continue to break the bank on the latest running sneakers and slap on GPS-enabled sports watches and don cute, colorful racerback tanks — and totally fake it.

Last night, when I showed up in my snazzy new running duds, I took a look around at the other runners. Sure, there were a handful of men and women with ripped runners’ bodies who looked as though they escaped the womb wearing Nike Airs. But then there were the children and the senior citizens. There were runners who were tall and lanky, and ones who were short and stocky. There were runners wearing knee braces, and mothers pushing baby carriages. And suddenly I found myself peering down at my own body, which despite its blatant faults (ahem, batwings) has gotten pretty strong and muscular in the last three years…and realized that I fit right in.

I forced myself to remember that I’ve worked hard for this moment, and I that I had every right to revel in the joy of crossing that finish line. I truly believe as though I’ve been given a second chance on life, and running a 5K is just one way to celebrate the new me and the kind of future I never thought possible.

This thought wasn’t lost to me as I pounded the pavement amongst thousands of runners and realized that I never, ever thought I could be an athlete. Yet there I was, a former obese woman whose idea of exercise was once racing into the kitchen to sneak another sleeve of Thin Mints, and I was keeping pace with people who have been working out and pushing their bodies to accomplish incredible feats for most of their lives.

Of course there are still the little things that wreak havoc on my self-confidence, like the loose skin on my inner thighs slapping together in my running shorts, or the fact that I only managed to eke out painfully slow 11-minute miles for a finishing time of 33:03.

But as long as I never lose sight of the journey I’ve had, and keep upholding my commitment to live a healthy, active life — by signing up for more races! — I’m confident that someday I won’t have to fake being a runner. I’ll just be one.

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My First Race

After two years of running, I finally summoned the courage to run my first race!

The race was held in a neighboring town, which just so happens to be home to the park where I usually run. I figured I’d start somewhere I’m comfortable, because despite my oh-so-cool, “it’s no big deal” facade, running this race was actually a very, very big deal to me.

No matter how many years have passed, that 260-pound version of myself is always around, hanging out in the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind, telling me that I can’t do anything that’s even remotely athletic. Even though I know my own running ability and average speed — solid 10 minute miles — there’s still some part of me that, when it comes to competitive events, automatically assumes I’m too fat, too slow, too weak, [insert horrible thing you’d never say to anyone except yourself]…and I’m definitely going to make a fool of myself amongst all the “real” runners. So why bother trying?

That negative inner dialogue has been playing on loop for 25 years, and upon my realization that losing weight — and successfully keeping it off — is doing little to silence my harsh inner critic, I knew I had to start participating in group activities where I’d have no choice but to recognize that I’m just as good as everyone else. Hence my newfound obsession with martial arts classes and sudden need to run amongst hordes of people.

This race was something I had to do just to prove to myself that I can, as insane as that may sound. So bright and early on the fourth of July, I lined up for the 32nd annual Firecracker Four Miler. That’s right…I skipped a 3.1 mile 5K and went straight to a four-mile race. Go me.

I set just one race-day goal for myself. I wanted to run (or, okay, jog) the entire four miles. I knew I could do it — I’ve run the same distance many, many times on my casual hometown jaunts — but there’s something about lining up with hundreds of fellow runners that suddenly makes you doubt your own ability. Especially when you’re like me, and doubting yourself is as commonplace as breathing. Being surrounded by women 50 pounds lighter than you certainly doesn’t help, either.

I just wanted to stay calm and relaxed and finish the race…which proved more difficult than I thought given searing 85+ degree temperatures at 9:30 in the morning. The humidity was unbearable; sweat was pouring down my face by the time I hit the first mile mark. Fortunately, race organizers set up plenty of water stops and lots of kind local folks were shooting us with their garden hoses to offer some much-needed relief from the heat. Needless to say, I was drenched by the time I crossed the finish line.

But the important thing is that I did, indeed, cross the finish line. And my only brief stop to walk was at the first water station, before I learned the fine art of quickly tossing back the contents of the paper cup mid-run (and pouring the rest over my head).

I ended up staying right on my usual pace, and clocked in just after the 40 minute mark. I probably could have done better, but my finish time was the last thing on my mind. That’s because to most of the other participants, it was just a run in the park. But for me, completing any physical challenge serves as proof that I really, truly am not the same person anymore.

When I crossed that finish line, I could hardly remember that there was a time where I couldn’t walk around the block without getting winded. Let’s not forget that I was the girl who, for years, couldn’t even complete the mile in gym class. Suddenly all those years I spent alone, devouring boxes of Cheez-Its in front of the TV, felt as if they belonged in someone else’s life story.

I may not have been the fastest runner — and I’m certainly not the smallest — but for the first time in my life I’m not beating myself up for being anything less than perfect. My thighs are still huge, but guess what? Those are the legs that just carried me through a four-mile race.

This weekend, I proved that I am a “real” runner. One who proudly sports lime green neon tank tops.

Running this race has helped me put things in perspective. When I set a goal — and prove to myself that I can achieve it — it no longer matters what size dress I wear or what the number says on the scale. I’m tired of worrying about my BMI and obsessing about how to hide my loose skin in a bathing suit. Instead, I’m overwhelmed by an urge to shed these last stubborn pounds just so that I might run faster at my next race, or tackle more sprints in my spinning classes, or kick higher in my Muay Thai kickboxing classes. These are the things I’m really passionate about now, and it’s because of my new body and all my hard work that I’m strong enough and fit enough and healthy enough to pursue them.

The best part? I’m already registering for my next four-miler — and first 5K. And there’s not a single doubt in my mind that I can crush them both.

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