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On January 21, 2013, I took my three year old son on a glass bottom boat tour to see coral reefs off the coast of Florida. We wore matching shirts and I had someone on board take a photo of us. After the trip, I wanted to post the photo on social media but I couldn’t. No matter how I cropped it or what filter I used, I couldn’t make myself look decent. I went to bed that night feeling ugly and embarrassed. The following morning, I woke up and said, “Enough is enough;” I made a promise to myself to make the change.

I was working overnights as a valet so that’s where I began to research how to change my life. I looked up ways to eat healthy and recipes I could try. Healthy eating was something I had never done; I had to teach myself everything. I also began walking laps around my garage. I knew I had to start somewhere and I was motivated to begin moving more. My next step was to join a gym and start exercising. I had no idea what to do at the gym, so I began researching the exercises I needed to do in order to lose weight. Once I had all the tools I needed to get started, I made my first goal. I wanted to lose 31 pounds by my 31st birthday. I had about 2 months to do it and dedicated all my free time to this goal. I set up a strict diet that allowed me to eat small portions more often throughout the day, along with a dedicated sleeping schedule that provided time for the gym each day. At first, all these changes were so difficult, sometimes overwhelming, but my eyes were set on meeting my goals so I kept pushing through.

Throughout my journey, there were times when it got quite difficult! I began some meal replacements with protein supplements, but would crave something sweeter, a snack to hold me over until I had to have my next meal, but I found that no candy bars or chips could curve my appetite in the right direction. Then someone recommended Quest BarsThey are so filling and even have that nice little sweet taste that makes you almost feel like you’re cheating, but you’re not! There is such a wide variety now of flavors to satisfy any craving. Now they’ve got Protein Chips and Protein Powders too, so the possibilities are endless!

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By the time my 31st birthday rolled around, I had lost 34 pounds. I loved how I felt and decided to continue what I was doing. For the next nine months, I continued to find new ways to reach my goal of being healthy and fit. I struggled at times, sometimes because of temptation, exhaustion or that ever-daunting plateau. That’s when I relied on my family and friends. My support system made all the difference in my journey. When I was feeling lazy, they pushed me. When I was frustrated, they reminded me of the big picture; they helped me see that the hard times are the turning points that push me to the next level. I would not have had any of this success without my family and friends’ support.

Near the end of that year, I discovered what would become my new passion: running. Cardio is an essential part of weight loss and fitness, but for me it became more than that. It is a sport that you can always improve on, whether it is distance, time or enjoyment. I started small and worked my way up mile by mile. After a few months, I was registered for my first 5K and then a half marathon. With every run, I became stronger, more passionate and determined. Now I can go at most 1 day without running. It’s been a little over a year since I became a runner and I just finished my first full marathon in Miami! I’m currently training for the world-famous New York City Marathon coming up later this month!  Two weeks later: the inaugural South Padre Island Marathon. 

I am very proud of what I have accomplished. I hope to be an inspiration to others. It was hard and I wanted to give up more than once, but I get to say “I did it”. I want others to see that it’s not an impossible task. I’m in the best shape of my life and I can’t wait for what’s next to come!