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I am not good at math. It was my nemesis for almost all of my college career. It stopped me from taking other classes, which had nothing to do with algebraic equations. I was up against a wall with a ladder that never seemed high enough to use…until one day.

The day I passed the placement test. I spent an entire year trying to pass this test, failing over and over again. But on that day the impossible became possible and struggle wasn’t so real anymore. For the record, I ended up with a B in the calculus class I took.

That story, full of struggle, ended relatively fast in terms of life. There are some stories about struggle that last much longer. 

I was an obese child. I began noticing myself larger than others probably in the 6th grade. The truth is though, I was struggling even before that. In Physical Education class I couldn’t complete a push-up, don’t even bother me with the flex arm hang, dropped like a sack of flour. The Mile run test gave me anxiety. I played soccer a few seasons but most of nights were spent watching my brothers play baseball while inhaling cheese fries and soda.

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As a preteen to early teens is where it really sunk in that I was fat. In middle school I wore some camouflage clothes only to be yelled at by another student that the Army didn’t take my size. I felt unattractive and unworthy, desperate for validation from my peers. I am not sure when low rise jeans came into fashion, but I felt miserable that I could not join in on the trend.

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The start of high school wasn’t that much easier. In the Spring I wore a hoodie, plus two layered t-shirts to cover up my back fat. I was a sweaty overheated mess by the end of the day but the shame for my body was at an all time high. All of my pants were baggy and black. Black is slimming, right?

I knew I had a weight problem but no one in my world addressed it unless to ridicule me. Physical Education class became a larger nightmare when I had to purchase guy shorts since none of the girl shorts would fit me. I felt like an outcast, unable to fit in, literally.

IMG_6068I was fifteen years old when I decided enough was enough. I didn’t have a clue but was smart enough to know salad was healthier than a soda. I had a gym membership that had been gifted to me since I was twelve years old. Between the ages of twelve and fifteen I had used it only a handful of times.

I took out of gate running, well not literally, my stamina was nonexistent. My routine was simple; Monday through Thursday, 20 minutes cardio, 30 minutes weight machines, 10 minute stretch. Wash, rinse, repeat. I began visiting the salad bar line at school and traded fried chips for baked, regular soda for diet. No method to the madness but my clothes started getting looser. By age fifteen and a half I had dropped a pant size. A year and a half later I didn’t recognize my reflection in the mirror. The impossible was now possible; I was thin.

I could continue typing about the weight loss and gains, reaching goal weight and back again. The moments where I fit into my ideal homecoming dress or shop in the junior size section. How my 20 minutes on a treadmill Monday through Thursday turned into a full blown running love affair. Bootcamp classes to barre to water aerobics. Every diet plan and non-plan available. Almost half of my life is a testament to a struggle to figure it out, to become that “After”. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I have been chasing an unattainable goal.

We have all seen them on social media or the magazine stand, incredible before and after photos. Before unhappy person and after awesome person. A person that got it figured out when it comes to the weight loss puzzle. I have spent over a decade in envy of these weight loss wizards, with only a few fleeting moments where I could join them in celebration myself.

Numerous times I have caught myself saying “I am not meant to be an after”. What I didn’t realize is that my after is every day. It started when I was fifteen years old the moment I traded fries for a side salad. It happens every moment I put my health first. My after isn’t some magical number on the scale. You don’t pass some placement test, get the grade, and then forget about it. You work at it, every, single, day.

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