I was feeling particularly nostalgic this weekend, and decided to look over some old photos. I dug up pictures of myself from when I was a little girl (so cute), and then an awkward high school student (everybody has a phase, I’m sure), and then a really fat college student. Oh boy, was I surprised at what I actually looked like. I’ve always struggled with my weight, and although I was always aware that I was very heavy – well, it’s funny how I normalized my self-image. Yes, I knew I was overweight, but sometimes I would think, “it’s not that bad.” I got used to being a certain way, and I think that’s why it was so hard to really make changes in my life.

The truth is that it really was that bad. I’ve kept track of the number of pounds I’ve lost this year (70-ish) and the sizes in clothing I’ve gone down (4 or 5) – and I know that I am much more active. Somehow, though, I still think of myself as the weight I was last year, and before. Looking at those pictures, though, I realized just how far I’ve come. I look and feel so different.

Body image is a strange beast. I have perceived myself differently throughout my life, often depending on how nice my hair looks or if I put on make-up that morning. Sometimes I have felt trapped inside my body and incapable of liking the way I looked and felt. Taking control, though, has made a world of difference to the way I perceive myself. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I still have a ways to go (I say that a lot, but it’s true). The changes in my self-confidence have been incredible, though, and I know other people have noticed it. I never would have said, before last year, that I love my body. And now I catch myself saying it all the time, especially after a half marathon or a particularly intense workout.

Getting here has certainly been a journey – life is a journey, as they say – and it’s amazing to step back and just think about the distances I’ve traveled since I started to really care about myself.

– Hannah