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  • I've never been a naturally skinny person. Of course, as a child I was, so I guess I shouldn't say never. I'm also quite tall for a woman, 5'10", which perhaps made expanding into my height take longer than it does for some. Growing up in California I was outside playing, running, riding my bicycle to a friend's house. I never had a "grown up" bike, once I outgrew the pink and white one that began with training wheels (which stayed on an embarrassingly long time) I didn't own another one until I was almost 30 years old. Once I had a vehicle, that eliminated the need to walk pretty much anywhere. Gasoline was $.99 per gallon, if you can remember those days, I didn't have a budget restricting my growing laziness.

    Somehow my young body retained it's slender build through high school, though I can't for the life of me figure out why. I refused participation in Physical Education classes, choosing to walk laps around the football field over "dressing down" and getting some exercise. I wasn't any good at sports, aside from that tether-ball tournament I won in Elementary School.

    I don't think I ever thought twice about my weight, or my clothing size until I turned 23. I remember I got a gift card to a Lane Bryant store, and I didn't even know what that was. At least not yet. I had to look up in the Yellow Pages where the nearest location was, and I was on my way. Once inside, I realized with growing horror that this was a "fat lady" store. The sales associate approached me asking politely if I needed any help and I told her that I did not and I fled that store as quickly as I could. I didn't want anybody to see me in there, confused why I received this gift card at all. I mean, I wasn't FAT, was I? I wore a size 14, but that wasn't fat for as tall as I am, was it? I immediately decided to try the Atkins diet, which at that time was at it's peak popularity. I went home and donated boxes and boxes of food to the local Catholic church, abandoning anything that was a violation of the no-carb model. About a week later I called my mother in a panic, "Mom, I'm blind! What's happening to me? I can't see, I'm dizzy, help me!" Apparently I took the diet a little too seriously, plummeting my body's sugar levels dangerously low. She told me to eat something with sugar. My Mom's Dad is a diabetic, so she knew immediately what I was experiencing. I told her I got rid of all my sugar. My diligence was going to kill me, today, I was sure of it. Half-blind, and crawling I made my way into the kitchen and searched the shelves for something, anything I could eat. I found a jar of peanut butter, plunged a spoon into it, and ate. If you've never suffered such an attack, I assure it's quite terrifying, but it's also incredible how fast that peanut butter saved my life. Within seconds my vision cleared and within minutes I was walking again, like nothing has happened at all. I lost 40 pounds on that diet, slimming down to a more reasonable size 10. I still didn't exercise, of course, the diet alone brought my weight down. I rewarded myself to a shopping spree and bought some a new outfit that wasn't from Lane Bryant, thank you very much.

    The weight didn't stay completely off once I tired of that low-carb lifestyle. I maintained my size 10, though, which was plenty good enough for me. I again didn't think anything of my size until I was 27 and began dating a Southern California man who insisted that I needed to become more fit. It was true, of course, you can't diet to maintain weight forever. He bought me that bike I mentioned before, and I went on Nutri-System. It didn't last long. Our relationship fizzled and I moved to a new city in a new state, like I always do.

    Utah is where I learned to love running again. I loved it as a child. (I remember running as fast and as far as I could, imagining that I was a superhero, the fastest person alive!) Perhaps it was a negligent boyfriend that drove me to the gym everyday, perhaps it was cabin fever (I'd never seen so much snow in my life), perhaps it was turning 31. Whatever it was, I'm thankful. I set my sights on running my first marathon, downloaded a training plan, and never looked back. At first I thought the pain was just from lack of exercising, pretty much my entire adult life. After months went by and the pain never dulled I made a Dr. appointment. I wanted to make sure I wasn't damaging myself in some irreparable way. He told me that I have a knee abnormality, that it could never be cured, and it would cause me intense pain while running for the rest of my life. Running wouldn't make the condition worse, but nothing would make it better, he said, "I wouldn't run if I were you." Angry and defiant, I hobbled out of that office, bought myself knee braces, ice packs, and ibuprofen. I continued to run, albeit no longer training for that marathon, and added some cycling to my routine. Perhaps I'd try for a triathlon instead.
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