Today was the day of my second Arizona Sunrise Series runs. I dread the Scottsdale track because I am horrible at it. The hills kill me and I am slow as fuck. But I show up regardless. I finish with my head held high and I try to improve my time every time.

Today was a little different though. I hadn’t slept all night because I was up trying to prepare for a Bridal Expo I was supposed to participate in. At 4:30 am, I wasn’t done printing and cutting all the flyers and if I wanted to run the race, I had to leave by 5:00 am to get there in time. I knew I had to choose. I knew I couldn’t do both as I was desperately trying to do.

I was going back and forth, back and forth. This or that, the Bridal Expo might help bring in business, if you don’t go to the race you don’t get the ‘R’ for the medal and you will kick yourself for it, business, personal health, money, getting healthy. All these thoughts kept ripping through my mind and I finally decided that this time I was going to do something for myself. I was going to do something that would make me healthier and get me to my goals.

I stopped cutting flyers and jumped into my running clothes, which right now are a pair of baggy sweats, a sleeveless tee and a thin zip-up hoodie (made from t-shirt material). I threw on some socks and my shoes. I was proud of myself because I noticed a difference putting on my shoes this week from two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago I could swing my leg up to cross it. I had to hold my breath to get a sock on. I was sweating. I had to take a break in between socks, shoes and tying my shoes. What is so easy for others, things they don’t think about, they just do are some of my biggest fears because I know how hard it will be to accomplish.

This week though, two weeks later, I could get my leg up to put my ankle on my knee and put my sock on. I didn’t have to take a break in between putting on the other sock, or my shoes or tying them. I will admit, I was a little tired afterwards, but the noticeable difference made me proud of myself for this small accomplishment that will eventually become a big accomplishment.

I got to the park and it was weird I felt a lot of people looking at me. It was probably because I had a bedhead bun rocking, or I was in a hoodie and sweat pants around these elite runners. Either way, I’m not used to being looked at. I’m used to being invisible because the less attention I draw to myself. I feel like when people look at me, they are like “fat girl alert, I wonder how much she weighs,” or “I’m glad I’m not that big.”

The truth is, right now I am almost 300 pounds. I am carrying around the weight of two people on my 5’4″ frame and that is not healthy. That is not safe for my skin, my organs or my life in general.

Even though I have all of those crazy thoughts running through my head of how I think people are judging me, I have to show up. I have to challenge myself to get better. I have to lose this weight and get healthy.

That is why on no sleep, I chose myself. I chose to go to the 5k and get the next piece of my medal. I started out good, I jogged farther than I think I ever have which was awesome. When I started walking and I hit the hills I could feel my lungs and my throat start to tighten up, but I kept going. I walked through it. Even though I was lapped or passed by everyone but two people, I kept going. I sat there and just mentally said, “It doesn’t matter if you finish last, it matters that you finish.” “Put one foot in front of the other, keep going. You’ve got this.” That’s just what I did.

I felt a bit sick after this race and I don’t know if that’s because I am switching up my diet and trying to consume different foods or if it was the heat, but I could feel myself not able to speak and in desperate need of some shade once I crossed the finish line.

As I was huddling in between the time monitors trying to catch my breath, this woman came up to me and told me congratulations. She told me she was cheering for me as I jogged the last leg into the finish line. I literally almost started crying because no one had ever cheered for me before, no one had ever come up and said you’re doing a great job, keep it up, I’m so proud of you and excited to see you improving.

I’ve been trying to lose weight since the third grade and have been bullied my whole life. Those stories are for another blog, but it’s those experiences that not only kept the weight on, but are the experiences that allowed me to sink farther into my 80-hour work weeks, eat a fuck ton of candy in the office and not allow anyone into my life.

I think it’s time for a change.