Two years ago, when I began working out and eating to nourish my body, rather than punish it, people began asking me how I had lost the weight.  My response, although a bit too honest for some, was always the same, "Well, if you hate yourself enough, you're willing to try anything to try to feel better." 

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I vividly remember the conversation I had with myself when I was a young teenager where I decided that I was not good enough. "I'm a good student, a sympathetic friend, a loving daughter, a sweet little sister, and a funny companion. Why don't people like me? Well, Lisby, of course, it's because you're not skinny." Then and there, I brushed aside every other part of me that made me who I was, and decided that I wasn't good enough because I wasn't skinny. 

As the years went on, my "belief" that being skinny is what makes you lovable, only got worse and more painful. Until finally, I found myself so "unlovable" that I was willing to do anything to change that. I began working out because I thought I had a lot of weight to lose. What I didn't realize was that I actually didn't need to lose anything, I needed to gain self respect and self love. 

Getting my body moving at the age of 21 was not easy. I played sports a little bit as a child but never excelled as an athlete and by the time I was a teenager, I had stopped exercising all together. So when I first started trying fitness classes, I was so scared that people would know that I was "pretending," that they would know that I shouldn't be in a room with athletes because I wasn't an athlete. 

The problem wasn’t that I was unloved by others; the problem was that I was unloved by myself. By taking care of my mind and my body, I was finally able to change that.

As hard as it was, though, there was something about sticking to my routine that made me happy. It made me feel like I was fighting for something positive, something that was worth fighting for. Eventually, I started to notice that my body was changing. When I flexed my arm, a visible muscle would appear! And it was also when I realized that the muscle didn't appear just because. The muscle appeared because I had earned it. It was then that I began to accept that I was strong, and that the more I worked, the stronger I would become. No one could take my strength away from me, besides myself. 

Building strength through working out helped me to start respecting myself and my body. Maybe I wasn't ever going to be "skinny" but maybe that didn't matter. What mattered was that I was taking care of my inner self and my body. And through self care and self love, I was becoming stronger, both physically and mentally. 

My work outs gave me a platform on which to shine. Whether running a half marathon, riding a bike, or weight lifting with my trainer, I can't help but feel an immense sense of accomplishment and excitement. Every day, I'm doing something that I never thought I could; being someone I never thought I could be.

The best part about being an athlete has been finally finding the courage to believe that I am loved because of who I am and what I fight for, not because of what I look like. The problem wasn't that I was unloved by others; the problem was that I was unloved by myself.  So by taking care of my mind and my body, I was finally able to change all that. 

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