In the Beginning…

Sara Byrd

Pretty much resigned to be the life long thick girl.

I have struggled with weight and body issued my entire life. Consumed with food and insecurities all day and every day. I was bullied and picked on because of my weight for most of my childhood, those memories and insecurities have traveled with me into my adult life. I have tried every diet pill and quick fix I could get my hands on but all I got were sweaty palms and an empty bank account.

My light bulb moment came when I was in my final year of college (GO GATORS). I weighed in that morning at 220 lbs and was testing the durability of my size 18 jeans. Enough was enough. I decided to learn more about nutrition and scope out the campus gym.

Learning how to count calories was the easy part. The hard part was stepping foot in the gym for the first time. Surrounded by preppy college girls and hot Fraternity guys I prayed no one noticed me. I bee-lined for the cardio row and jumped on the elliptical. Safety. It was on this elliptical over the course of several months and feverously documenting ever calorie-in and calorie-out that I started to see progress. Nothing is more motivating than progress and seeing the scale move. During the 18 months of Grad School, I dropped 70lbs! Could kiss that elliptical!

Upon graduation and entering the work force I yo-yoed with my weight. Not sure why there has to be SO MUCH FOOD in the work place but unless you couldn't guess...I have little will power. Out of sight Out of Mind is how I has been operating those past 18 months. Now I was faced with "Bagel-Donut-Fruit" day and Teammate Appreciate pizza parties. Who does this? Why do we as a culture celebrate everything with food? I was not raised to be rude so when someone offers cake, you eat cake. I was still in that "please let me fit in" mindset and did not want to give anyone a reason not like me. Heaven forbid I turn down a homemade chocolate chip cookie. This is a syndrome of my past that I find lots of people relate to. Being a part of a group and accepted was my main focus for years. I desperately wanted people to like me. Well...people liked me but it cost me some of my progress. Learning to overcome the fear of saying "no" is a important lesson. People are not going to like you less and if you can work on your will power you will like yourself more. That being said, I still struggle with this.

For years I stayed stagnate, even though I was constantly dieting and getting in my cardio. I even tried my hand at running, I hate running. A good friend of mine and I decided to train for a half marathon. We were awesome! It was hard but together we got in our long runs early Saturday morning before the Florida humidity set in and our evening after work runs. After completing that first half marathon and completion of the goal I lost the running consistency. I was having a hard time finding joy in working out. I really wanted to be one of those girls that could not wait to lace up her shoes and hit the pavement after work. However, that is not me. Everyone has something right? What is my something? I started yoga, Hot Yoga. Wonderful, hot yoga. If you have never tried this I highly encourage it. There is nothing like dripping sweat with 20 of your closes friends while inverted. Truly, it is cleansing and I enjoyed it very much. Unfortunately for me I could not stick to it and eventually all practice stopped and I was back to my uneventful and painful "jogs" around the neighborhood. sigh.

In the summer of 2013 I met the most amazing trainer, Scottie. Scottie changed my life, she immediately saw potential in me and expressed it freely. One thing to note about Scottie is that she operates at full speed ALL THE TIME. You have to learn to "speak Scottie" and to move as fast as she does or you will miss something. While this scares some, I loved it! Totally captivated by this trainer and inspired, she taught me how to lift. She taught me how to be proud of myself and to start changing my body image. Then she talked me into training to compete in a bodybuilding competition. Are you kidding me? I don't even want to put on a bathing suite and lay out in my back yard! What on earth makes you think I want to put one on and let people judge my body?! Ludicrous. Well...she can be quite persuasive. You know the saying, "With out great struggle there is no change"? Serious truth in that. I was tired of trying over and over again and failing. If I wanted to be serious and if I wanted to be in great shape, what was stopping me? Fear of failure? Fear of commitment? Fear of public indecency?

As someone that has started and stopped diets year after year, I decided that the Competition was going to happen and the months would pass regardless of if I trained or not, so might as well. What is the worst that could happen?

There were tears, there was cussing, there was was hard, but in March of 2014 I stepped on stage for the first time and completed in the Baltimore Gladiator Classic, Figure Class D. I did not do well, but you know what...I felt good about myself and I was proud for the first time in my life of what I saw In the mirror. Found my passion and found my love through the process. I love to lift and push myself.

As I transformed my body and pushed myself day in and day out in the gym a unexpected positive came of the process, I started to inspire others. The girl that always wanted to be someone else and have someone else's body was now someone other girls though that about....speechless. Now my motivation is to inspire and help others. Everyone should be able to feel proud of themselves when they look in the mirror. Thank you to everyone that supports and believes in me, the best is yet to come!



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