“You never fail until you stop trying.” -Albert Einstein
When I was younger, I quit everything: soccer, gymnastics, t-ball, choir. You name it, I quit it. Throughout my journey, I have thought about quitting a few times, especially when it seemed like I was just going through the motions without any true meaning or progress. Then I remember my freshman year of high school. I remember being 15 year old, 115 pounds (at 5’10), and eating 700 calories a day for weeks. I see myself sobbing in front of the mirror, tears rolling down my overly defined cheekbones, because there wasn’t a gap between my thighs or lines along my abs. I can still feel the ghost like feeling as I resisted every single thing offered to me because I wasn’t good enough, feeling the most alone in a crowded room. But I also remember the first time I did leg day with my trainer, Jason (@built2evolve on IG), and for the first time having the strength to do something worthwhile and actually be proud of it. I recall the first meal with carbs in it that I had in months without crying after. I remember seeing the scale go up 2 pounds and being scared, while simultaneously being surprised, happy, excited, proud, and anxious. Looking back, I feel as though somehow I knew this world was my forever.
I used to run 6 miles a day, curl 5 pound dumbbells, and severely limit portion sizes. Now I’ve gone through 16 weeks of hard work for 5 of the best minutes of my entire life on stage. Sometimes, I feel as if I am not making progress. You see all these incredible transformation pictures on Instagram, and instead of feeling inspired, you feel inadequate. But to quit now would be to deny all of the progress that I have made leading up to now. I would throw it away like I did my baseball glove, soccer cleats, and gymnastics leotards. The difference is that fitness is something I chose myself, when I was alone and had no one else to turn to. It wasn’t forced. It wasn’t a choice I made because it was what everyone else around me was doing. In fact, it made me stick out, it made me who I am today. To quit would be to go back to 115 pounds, scared, lost, depressed, and starving for meaning. Fitness has kept me hungry, but hungry to reach my goals and keep discovering who I am. I am Jennifer. I am a warrior and a worrier. I am a goofball but I am focused. “I am rooted but I flow.” I am myself, both the caterpillar and the butterfly, as I change and as I grow, unapologetically me.