My journey

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

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I was tired of being that “fat kid.” I’ve struggled with my weight since…. well, the name calling started to sting. My weight, and its effect on my attitude, prevented me from feeling comfortable socially. It became more worse when I changed schools after 8th grade. In my new school, everyone seemed perfect – both the girls and the guys. They were well dressed and thin; the boys seemed to possess that “strong chin” and “flow.” They had hair that, when worn long, fell just so, perfectly to one side, like the guys on a J. Crew ad. My wavy hair just “expanded.” Ugh.

My parents would suggest a run, snacking less and losing “a few pounds” but I knew it would take more to be happy with myself. I wanted to be included and asked to hang out. Being a day student at a boarding school was tough enough; being a “fat” day student was worse.

Motivation was the missing key in my quest to handle my weight. It came during my sophomore lacrosse season. My teammate’s insults continued to hit me hard. I came to realize finally I held the power to change their comments. It was time to prove to everyone and to myself that I deserved to be in this school, on this field and in that rink. Their insults became my motivation and when I failed to make Varsity full-time, two years in a row, I asked my coaches how I could improve. “You just need to be faster, quicker,” they repeated. They never said I was fat, but I knew my weight prevented me from being the player they wanted me to be and that I wanted to be. It was up to me to make my goal of being a full-time, two-sport Varsity player a reality.

One night, this “stocky” (chubby, really) 16 year-old stepped on the scale registering a meaty 205. That’s it. Let’s do this, I thought. I started to run, and then ran some more, but my bad eating habits canceled out any progress I made. I didn’t understand the effect my eating had on my exercise regimen. I was working hard but saw no progress. It was so defeating…maybe I was just destined to just be “that fat kid.”

When sophomore year ended, I spent considerable time researching diet and exercise. I began eating smarter and reading more. I learned the importance of proper nutrition. I wanted to be in shape, especially for the incoming junior “beach day” once back at school. I was determined to be ready for it. I might even take my shirt off and swim in front of everyone, I dreamed.

Progress came, pound by pound, carrot by carrot. Each day I was closer to my goal. Starting in June and stepping on that scale in early September, days away from “beach day,” I had made my dream a reality. My chubbiness was gone. I had lost 40 pounds and was all muscle. I was healthy and fit; my classmates could no longer call me fat.

At school, people noticed, too. I heard new words I was not used to hearing. They said I had 6 pack abs. The power to change, to fit in, laid within me. People can guide, but it’s up to me to drive the bus.

I am in a better place. I continue to work on myself, in the classroom and out, and it’s relieving to know what I set out to do happened. I can not only keep up; I can outlast. I made both Varsity sports, and even earned the Most Improved Player award in ice hockey. It was on that field and in that rink, with new friends cheering me on a full year later, I realized I made it happen all on my own, and I am in control of my life.

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