I grew up in a family that didn’t stress the importance of exercise. My parents weren’t athletic and as a family we didn’t do physical activities together. The extent of my exercise was playing soccer (which I did up until my junior year of high school). It wasn’t until my mid twenties that I started lifting weights and running for fun. It was at that time that I realized I liked how exercise made me feel, both physically and mentally. As the years went by I continued to run and lift. After my first son was born (I was 32) I took up running again but the weight lifting stopped. After my second son was born (at 34) the running stopped, too. I have always had “issues” with how my body looks. This only got worse after having my sons. It is hard for me to not compare myself to others and when I do, in my mind, I always end up short. When my youngest son was 3 I decided to start running again and then gradually I got back into the gym and started weight lifting. I would find myself going through cycles… I would be so motivated and would be diligent about exercising. I’d feel great. Then, I’d find myself not going to the gym as often and then not at all. I’d eventually get back to the gym and the cycle would start again. When I started this challenge I was in the “off cycle”. I was so upset with how I was feeling because I wasn’t exercising. I didn’t feel strong. I hated how my body looked. I was eating poorly. I really felt helpless. I knew I HAD to do something. I am not a risk taker, I am a creature of comfort. It is hard for me to start new things and I find it hard to insert myself into a group of people I don’t know. Thankfully, a good friend decided to join the challenge with me, which was a huge help. This challenge has helped me get back into the gym on a consistent basis. I can’t believe that 8 weeks have gone by and that I have done 8 weeks of CONSISTENT exercise! I have been challenged to try new exercises. I have realized exercise truly makes me a happier person. My results are still a work in progress. Overcoming the results that the scale shows me (or doesn’t show me! HAHA!) has been the most difficult part of this challenge. I’ve lost inches but haven’t seen drastic weight loss. I do feel stronger and am starting to see some muscles. I can do pushups on my toes but am still trying to do an unassisted pull up (a dream of mine!). Fear of failure and my own negative self talk have been my biggest obstacles in this challenge. I have really worked hard to “stay the course” and to keep trying even when I feel like I am not making progress. I have tried to not let the negative voices in my head sabotage my progress. To those women starting a challenge like this I say to find the positives in yourself each day. Focus on what you have achieved that day rather than what you haven’t. This was huge for me. I knew that my days weren’t perfect but I tried to find things I did well. Maybe I didn’t meet my protein goal BUT I DID choose a healthy snack over the Oreos and ice cream. It is so easy to be hard on ourselves and to want to give up. We need to find the positives. As John Wooden said, “Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do”. I hope that this challenge is just the beginning of my new journey. It is my intention to use what I have learned to continue to make progress both physically and mentally.