I feel very grateful to be considered a finalist for the HCH Challenge. In fact, I can’t believe that I’m the same person who as a teenager insisted she would never be able to do a complete push-up. I distinctly remember the first time I noticed my body wasn’t like other girls my age. I have clear memories of the times I couldn’t keep up with other kids athletically, whether it be flexibility or strength or running. I was one of those students who hated gym. Even in high school, when I took a year of weight training classes, I didn’t see myself as strong. I was still the girl who couldn’t do a push-up and couldn’t touch her toes.img_2670

I wish I could tell the high school version of me that one day I’ll be able to do multiple push-ups! I wish I could tell one-year-ago me that I can in fact run for than a mile at a time, and that it isn’t impossible to run for an hour without stopping. Now when I see things people do at the gym, instead of seeing them as something I can’t do I think, “I bet I could try that.” My favorite thing about exercise and participating in Weight Loss Rebels is what we realize we are capable of, that perhaps seemed impossible before. A lot of the women in these challenges have families, young children, demanding jobs, sick family members, or maybe even are recovering from a health issue or surgery themselves. And yet look at all of you persevere! I’ve been participating in WLR challenges for over 2 years now. During that time I proposed and defended my Master’s thesis, published 3 academic papers, and persevered through personal challenges including relationships and my own mental health challenges. WLR was there the whole way, and you have made me feel capable and strong.img_2673

I’m glad that I stuck with the HCH challenges for all of 2016. Somehow in the past year the coaches and other participants have helped me to find something that works for me. In the past, even when I started out in challenges two years ago, I treated any plan like it was temporary. I jumped headfirst into completing my workouts and meeting my macros, but I wasn’t enjoying what I was eating and found the commitment so stressful that when I took a break from participating, I gained back more weight than I’d lost. This time, Meg and Obar helped me to find a plan that worked for my goals, my eating habits, and my schedule. I may not have the most visible muscles or the flattest stomach but I feel proud of where I’m at and the commitments I’ve kept to myself.

Something I learned this year that I wanted to share with other people is that your goal – health, body acceptance, strength, weight loss, whatever – doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. There are dozens and dozens of “perfect bodies” out there. I know that if I pushed myself harder and dedicated my life to it, I could get the perfect slim-but-muscled #instagram body, but I also know I wouldn’t be happy. It’s okay for you to be happy with where you’re at, or at a goal that isn’t the same as other people. There are times I’ve weighed less than I do right now, and times I’ve weighed more. I think what I’ve gained in this process is a realization that I can be happy in and proud of my own skin, and own when I’ve found something that works for me. Thank you to everyone who has been there with me along the way.img_2658

Special thanks to Stephen Obar who has always been in my corner. And finally, congratulations to my fellow finalists! You guys seriously impress me.