I will start by telling you that I don’t enjoy talking about myself nor do I like having my photo taken. Growing up I was labeled “fat kid” and as I got older, I was “The Funny One” when I went out with my friends. At my peak, I was 190 lbs on a 5’1 frame. I ate what I wanted (anything breaded and fried and covered in Bleu Cheeze-no vegetables please!) and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day. I had my gall bladder removed at 27. I tried losing weight by not eating, diet pills, grapefruit, cabbage soup, you name it. Finally I discovered Weight Watchers and portion control. I dropped a total of 60 lbs. A few years later I told my husband I was going to quit smoking and join the gym. ( At the time, I didn’t know he told himself I’d probably last about 6 months.) I took Chantix to quit smoking and luckily, it worked for me. I signed up to work with a trainer so I wouldn’t look stupid or hurt myself at the gym (that happened later). So I joined the gym in late June at 145 lbs. and in April the following year I was down to 120 (A number on the scale I hadn’t seen since 5th grade). For the first time in my life, I felt strong! I was up for anything. Then it happened. A friend of mine talked me into signing up for the AZ Rock and Roll Half Marathon telling me that her and her friends “run a little and walk a little”. When push came to shove, I ran the whole thing. I’m not fast but ran the whole 13.1 miles and crossed the finish line a victor for all the girls out there think it’s impossible. Since then I have completed half marathons, 5Ks, 10Ks, 15Ks and bike races. I’m a running guide for visually impaired runners with Achilles International and a running buddy for Girls on the Run. It’s been 9 years since I’ve made that decision to change my life. I’ve suffered a few injuries as losing weight doesn’t make you coordinated. Arthritis in both feet (complete with joint implant in my big toe), hips and back, and a broken arm (with plate and 4 screws to hold me together). At the age of 46 I’m just starting menopause and all the joy that goes along with it – most notably the weight gain rapidly declining hormone levels define your mood. I struggle every day with body image after years of hiding my body feeling ashamed of my appearance. I will never be satisfied with how I look, but I’ve at least stopped comparing myself to other people. I’m my own person on my own path. Some days I feel like I conquer the world and other days I can barely get out of bed. We all have challenges but we’re here for each other, Dear Heiffers . Don’t you forget it.