Inside the Book

Introduction: Moment of Change

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.” —Tony Robbins

When I was fourteen, I stepped on my bathroom scale and the number 230 glared up at me. That number controlled my life.

It was the main source of my unhappiness and the reason I hated who I was. But that was nine years ago and, believe me, much has changed since then. The turning point came one hot, humid August afternoon in northern Virginia.

I was sprawled on the couch in my apartment, the AC rumbling full blast. Three more weeks before school starts, I was thinking glumly, only three more weeks left! I had started the summer with good intentions. Yep, I was going to exercise every day all summer long so that when I started the ninth grade, my body would be transformed. On the first day of high school I was going to be a knockout. No more “fat girl” jokes, ever!

High school was going to be my new beginning. For once I was going to fit in and feel pretty. Boys were finally going to notice me. I would even get my first boyfriend! My social life would be crowded with new friends and high school parties. Oh, yes, life would be good once I lost the weight—that was the plan. But, at least in my life up until then, things rarely went as planned. Instead of running marathons, I’d lounged around, stuffing myself with junk food. Pizza for breakfast and lunch. Potato chips, burgers, and ice cream for dinner. And brownies for midnight snacks. Oh, and daily exercise? How about speed walking from the fridge to the couch, where I loafed for hours every day watching music videos? Basically, I was doing anything and everything that was not going to turn me into a knockout.

Now, at the end of the summer, waves of frustration swept over me as I reflected on how I had wasted my time. Three months! I had had nearly three months to get in shape, but here I was, no closer to my goal than when school had ended. Ugh!!! Why hadn’t I gotten off my big butt and just gone for that run?

Once I asked myself the question, I knew the answer. I was afraid. I had never seriously attempted to lose weight before. What if I couldn’t do it? What if it was too hard? I mean, 100 pounds! How long would that even take?

For my entire life I had been the shy fat girl, either pitied or teased. I had never been seen as anything more. Everyone who knew me expected me to stay that way. On the rare occasion I told someone about my desire to lead an adventurous life, my words would be only halfheartedly acknowledged. And when I made the announcement to my family that I was going to lose weight, I was met with polite—but not quite sincere—encouragement.

My parents both nodded and gave me a courteous smile, along with a “That’s great, honey! Good for you!” But I could tell they didn’t quite take me seriously. Their reaction made me feel like I was a seven-year old child who had just announced she wanted to be Cinderella when she grew up. I don’t think my parents or anyone else ever truly expected me to live up to my goals. I guess I sort of never expected to either. How could I honestly believe that one day I would wake up and not be, well, fat? It just seemed impossible! And yet I knew if I was ever going to be happy, I would have to lose the weight.

Such were the thoughts that blazed through my head that afternoon. Second after second, minute after minute, my mind focused on the one truth I had known all along: this was not how I wanted to live. From a young age I had dreamed of a different life, a different me. I so desperately

wanted to live that dream . . . and why shouldn’t I? Why was I allowing my insecurities to hold me back? Why?

Right then I knew what had to change. I stood up, determination pulsing through every inch of my body. “Mom,” I called out, “I’m going for a walk!”