I had always been a little chubby growing up, but between my sophomore and junior years in high school, my weight got out of control. I had never really done anything to manage my weight or change my lifestyle before, but the following spring, I decided to do some things I had never done before. With a combination of exercising a few times a week and eating healthier, I lost 40 pounds in just a few months. It wasn't easy to lose all that weight, but I'm grateful for the things I gained from the process.
Growing up I didn't have a lot of self-confidence. The chubbiness was compounded by being a four-eyed "Nintendo Freak," so I didn't have many friends outside of the ones I played video games with. Even with the 40 pounds I lost, there was still more to go, but the fact that I was living a healthier life gave me confidence to break out of the shell I had been living in. I made more friends and felt more comfortable around girls. But most importantly, I had confidence in my ability to do hard things.
Losing weight meant giving up a lot of things I loved. I stopped drinking soda, avoided desserts entirely and stopped eating out. I also forced myself to keep to my exercise schedule. There were several days I tried to avoid the treadmill before I pushed myself to jump on it. That discipline spread to other aspects of my life as well. I became more goal-oriented and spent less time playing video games and watching television and more time studying, reading and improving my relationship with God.
Before I made the decision to lose weight, I lived a reactionary life; taking things as they came. As I experienced the power of what I could do when being proactive, I became more aware of the fact that I have a lot more control over my future than I originally thought. With better planning and discipline, I could end up doing whatever I set my mind to. I could no longer be labeled a victim of circumstance, rather I finally understood that there's more to life than just being there.
To piggyback on my newfound awareness, I became much more determined to direct my life in the way I wanted it to go. I no longer needed to be afraid of what other people thought about me. I had gifts and talents that I could use to become successful in whatever I chose to do. And when I failed, that determination has begotten persistence and perseverance, which have led me to accomplishing many other goals.
Most importantly of all of the things I gained when I lost all those pounds 10 years ago, was the key to success—which is forming a habit of doing things no one else wants to do. Sure, we all want to be more fit, but not many people are as keen on the things that get us there. There were still days I didn't want to run, and the siren song of my mom's chocolate chip cookies was almost deafening at times. But forcing myself to do the things I didn't want to was what paved the way toward my goal.
To be honest with you, the reason I'm writing this is because I've recently gained back all that weight and then some. It's important for me, and for each of us, to remind ourselves of our past successes and what we've gained from them so that we can get back on the straight and narrow again. George Santayana once said that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," but in this case, if I don't remember the past, I'm condemned to lose it forever.