MY BODY IN MY TWENTIES At 29, I was the mother of three young girls, 283 pounds and trapped in an abusive marriage. “Who would ever want you?” my then-husband taunted me. After my third daughter was born, my self-esteem was so low, I stopped trying to lose my pregnancy weight. Instead, I’d gorge myself, pushing down my emotions as I ate.
THE TURNING POINT In June 2010, I decided to leave my husband and move in with my parents. Shortly thereafter, sitting in a lawn chair in my parents’ backyard watching my daughters play soccer, I realized I’d become so morbidly obese, I couldn’t run around with my girls. I knew then it was time to get healthy, and I resolved to join Weight Watchers.
THE MAKEOVER Changing my eating habits was a slow process. But I lost about 10 pounds a month, and I got a scholarship to the local YMCA, where I walked on the treadmill whilemy girls took a dance class.
I gradually moved from walking to jogging to running—and on New Year’sEve I did my first 5K race. I wanted to start the year living my resolution to get healthier, so there I was, running at the stroke of midnight. Four months later I did my first half-marathon, crossing the finish line arm in arm with a friend. I kept trying things that I never would have done before: a church softball league, tennis, kickball, kayaking. When the Y announced a bench-pressing competition, I signed up even though I was afraid people would laugh at me with my little girly weights. Instead, they applauded, and I surprised myself, when I pressed 115 pounds to win the women’s division. (Never mind that I was the only woman competing—I still won!) I also regularly walked around a track holding two 55-pound dumbbells to remind myself of the extra pounds I’d carried every day. I’d shrunk from a size 28 to a size 8.
MY BODY TODAY I’m not the thinnest, most beautiful woman in the world, but when I walk into a room, people notice me because I enter with confidence. I’m never going to be super thin; my body is stocky and muscular. But I like being strong. A tank top I sometimes wear when I work out says it all: “Strong is the new skinny.”
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