I have been waiting patiently or not so patiently to write this blog until I was good and ready which is hard these days with my routine.  Alas, here I am with a title that could really mean a lot of different things in many different contexts.  However, when we look at the current situation of my body, we can see that there is less of me.  This less is a good thing.  Good for my health and good for my well-being.  However, I want to make it clear that losing weight really is not my goal in my changed eating habits and exercise routine.  I want to be strong and more fit.  I realize this is not a SMART goal and as a counselor that should bug me, but I guess I will know when I am satisfied.  Yes I want to lose some more weight, as it really is only healthy for me still.  I am down to a weight that I haven’t seen since college.  

With that being said, this time is wayyyy different in more ways than one.  When I rewind back to 2010-2012 there was a time that I was about the same weight that I am now, however I was a very sad, depressed person.  Which I know you may look at me now, and wonder “huh?”  But in all honesty, I was skinnier than my heaviest weight, but I was in a horrible state of mind.  I want to preface the following things I’m going to say with the fact that this should be something we talk about more as a society, stigma has no place with me.  

I would wake up in the morning at my apartment in Pittsburgh, look at myself in the mirror, and ask myself, “who are you?”  Now when you think about that statement as a young person it can mean many things.  I had lost my sense of self for really no reason at all.  My grades were fine, my friends were fine, my mom was in the process of moving which caused stress but everyone was supportive.  At this point I had settled into my major and the major stress of freshman year was gone.  However I had lost weight not because I was happy, but because I was sad.  Skinny and sad is really no place for anyone to be just like fat and sad is no place to be either.  

One of the reasons I wanted to be a counselor myself in the first place was because of my experiences with a counselor at Pitt.  I am stubborn.  I know this well, so when I was asked to meditate or listen to relaxation things I did not comply.  However talking helped, and the counselor I saw made an impact so great that is what I do everyday of my life.  

Fast forward to grad school.  I was teaching Zumba a couple days a week and going to the gym when I could but my mood had improved immensely since my junior year at Pitt.  I can’t tell you how it happened because if I knew I would not have turned that way in the first place but I gained all the weight back and then some that I lost when I was sad.  So this time I was fat and happy.  Happy is a much better place to be regardless of your size, stature, or weight.  I turned my thinking around, I choose to look at things from a whole different perspective and I choose happiness on a daily basis still even though I have my rough patches.  

Grad school was great.  Good grades, good friends, good times, and really nothing that I felt needed a change.  In 2014 I graduated and I got my current job the summer I graduated.  Hard work pays off, it really does and there is no greater feeling in the world than being satisfied and thankful for what you have in life.  Keep going through the years and it will bring you to 2016 when I started at the YMCA teaching Hip Hop and eventually Aqua Zumba.  I am a person that is a group fitness instructor, however you really wouldn’t have known it looking at me on the street, well at least I don’t think so. I ate whatever I wanted, and now that I look back my portion sizes were wayyyy out of control.  

So now it is April 2017.  I started my journey to being a more fit person in January.  On the 15th to be exact, I decided enough was enough.  I am not a person of new year’s resolutions so that can be thrown out the window, and I did not just think, “Oh man, I really need a diet.”  I really can’t tell you the event that switched my thinking in my brain and my choice, however I have not looked back since then and I don’t plan to.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there are going to be bumps in the road because the road to success is never a straight path, but I am more strong willed than I have ever been.  This time is different.  This time I am eating what I want in moderation.  This time I am giving 110% in my classes and the classes I go to.  

I never ever want to be the person seen as fat shaming or skinny shaming.  Neither is a good thing.  I want to be a person that motivates with their presence and encouragement.  A person that is seen as someone who can be a positive influence.  I look at myself not and I’m not only happy, I am also more healthy.  Happy and healthy is a great combination.  

Motivation is something that definitely has to be intrinsic and extrinsic in my beliefs.  I started going to Boot Camp and Body Pump in January (well Body Pump came later because I was not sure about that one) and the instructor is just phenomenal.  There really are no words that can really put to light how great she is.  Positive, caring, smiling, butt-kicking, and awesome are just some of the words that would describe her personality.  It doesn’t matter if we are doing push-ups galore or burpees for days, she is so motivating and never, ever puts anyone down.  I smile through the struggle every time.  I can do things that I never thought I could do because of her influence.  

I’m just getting started…I am 26 and looking forward to the rest of my life.  This is just the beginning.  Being strong is the same as being weak.  The difference is you don’t quit.