The woman you see in the above photograph may be smiling, but she isn’t happy. I’ve been meaning to post “Transformation Tuesday” stories for a couple weeks now, and have written, and rewritten my own story quite a few times. Sometimes it’s challenging to be honest with yourself, especially when the image in the mirror isn’t reflecting who you know yourself to be. When everyone suddenly noticed a difference in the way I looked (after initially losing weight), I would joke around with my sisters/close friends/boyfriend, “I was fat, and nobody told me!” But the fact of the matter is, nobody is ever going to create a change in their life, big or small, until they look them self in the mirror and start telling the truth.
In 2010 I started graduate school, and while I was excited to begin a new career path, I was emotionally exhausted. Robert and I were not speaking at the time, and I was living by myself coming home after work eating massive two, sometimes three-course takeout meals, and more times than not, drinking an entire bottle of wine before falling asleep on my futon watching Netflix and cuddling with my cats. At some point, I invested in a Wii Fit. Never being one for scales, I was completely shocked during my initial fit test to discover I weighed 190lbs. I guess all the summer dresses and leggings helped hide the fact the rest of my clothes didn’t fit me anymore. At 5’7″, I’ve never been petite, but I’d been a solid size 8 since my high school cross country days, and never saw the scale tip above 165.
My best friend had recently lost over 60lbs and was running the Chicago Marathon that October. I’d never witnessed the marathon live before, which is pretty shameful for a number of reasons, and there was no way I was going to miss cheering him on. As I stood near Mile 17 searching for his face among tens of thousands of runners, the competitor in me started to wake up. The energy of the crowd, the mix of excitement and pain on the face of every runner, the perfect balance of competition and camaraderie that only exists in the world of running… I decided then and there; in 2011 I’d be out there too, and nothing was going to stop me.
Running gave me my life back. I started going to the gym early Friday mornings to run for an hour before school, and enlisted the help of a personal trainer at my budget friendly gym. I was able to pay for training in monthly installments, so I bought sessions in bulk. Through the winter months, I worked out with Jamie, my awesome personal trainer, lifting (HEAVY) weights and doing lots of dynamic/functional exercises four times a week. She helped keep me accountable, and I owe a great deal of my success to the time I spent in the gym with her. Our birthdays are only a few days apart, and I convinced her to sign up for the marathon, as I’d discovered we would be precisely 26.2 years old on race day. Who could say no to that?
I’m not going to pretend any bit of it was easy. It took time, work, and most important, I became my priority. I was so focused on working toward my goal, and (mostly) having fun doing it, I didn’t notice how much my body was changing for over a year. After completing a marathon, there’s this, “now what?” feeling. I set my sights on smaller races to keep myself motivated, and dragged a few friends and family members into the world of running right along with me.
You don’t have to go to the extreme of running a marathon to see a positive change in your life, but you have to do something. Above all else, be honest about your intentions, be true to who you are, know what motivates you, and know, the only person who can tell you to make a change is on the other side of that mirror.
To be continued…