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I Am Eager to Grow Smaller Physically and Bigger Mentally

“You have such a great personality.” “What pretty eyes!”

“Don’t get rid of that booty.” “Black guys love thick girls”

These are the comments I have heard a majority of my life – people thinking it is a compliment, trying to help, providing encouragement, asking me out on a date, you name it. These are the comments that have come to define who others think I am for the past 28 years. These are the comments that I am sick and tired of. These are the comments that hard work, perseverance, lots of sweat, and introspection will annihilate over the course of the next several months.

For years I have been the “biggest” teammate, daughter, girlfriend, sibling, and friend. Never have these individuals called me fat, thankfully I have a good support system, but nonetheless, it is fact

Putting myself first is not something I have done in years, it is a daily challenge but completely uplifting. This has begun to take me closer to gaining increased mental and physical health. This challenge will keep my body and spirit focused and mentally charged,

For the past several years I have put others first and allowed my own physical and mental well being fall by the wayside – friendships, family relationships, self-esteem, and self-confidence suffered as a result. During this time I experienced two horrible relationships which diluted what little self-confidence I had remaining. What followed was a string of bad choices which affected everything I touched. As I pulled myself out I realized what a mess I had made. I had let myself become the victim of circumstance rather than taking control of my situation. As a result of this realization, I made better decisions, let the right people in, took time to trust those around me, and spent time with my family when possible.

Why do I share this, because it has gotten me where I am today – a developing self-esteem and self-confidence, a deeper understanding of the strengths that I offer to those around me, and a waistline bigger than I would like to admit. I have only just begun this process and am eager to further challenge myself to grow smaller physically and bigger mentally. I want to offer my best to those around me – in order to do that I need to feel my best and this will come from letting me be a priority in my own life.

My goal is not to be the world’s definition of skinny but my own definition of healthy. I do not define success by a number or a size or rendering myself unrecognizable to others but by health, happiness and confidence. I am proud of myself for taking the first few steps: realizing that I have an opportunity to change, finding the right place to do it, and making the investment in myself and my future. However, I realize that this is only the beginning of what will be a long and exciting process of growth, personal development and incredible challenge. My mission is to make an impact not an impression, because impact lasts. I am ready for a challenge, ready to empower myself to succeed beyond my dreams and ready to be the very best version of myself possible.

~ Joanna Marker, 2009 SLAM BAM Contest Winner

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