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Turning the Big 3-0

Turning the Big 3-0

So I’d like to interrupt my regularly-scheduled New York City Marathon training talk with a very important message.

This weekend is my birthday, and I’ll be turning the big 3-0. *GASP*

Yes, that’s right, ladies and gentlemen. On Sunday, I will no longer be a twenty-something. I will be 30.

For the past couple of years, the prospect of turning 30 has given me all kinds of anxiety. Truth be told, I’ve been terrified of it. Ever since I turned 25, I’ve had the same thought on my birthday every single year — “okay, I’m only 27, I’m not 30 yet…okay, I’m 28 now, but I’m still 2 whole years away from 30…”

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Celebrating my 25th in my favorite place on Earth. :)

It wasn’t until the last few months that I decided that I’m okay with turning 30. And I’ll tell you why. (Other than the fact that there’s not a whole hell of a lot I can do about it, haha.)

It’s because I am in a better place now than I was at ANY point in my 20s. I am happier, healthier, and more self-confident that I have been EVER. In my whole life. There is absolutely no question about that.

A whole lot of things happened to me in my 20s. Some of those things were good – like, you know, running a marathon. But there was also plenty of not-so-good – like having an 11-year relationship with my high school sweetheart completely fall to pieces, finding myself alone for the first time since I was a teenager, not being able to afford my rent after he moved out of our crappy apartment, and digging myself into all kinds of debt. Good times, right?

But despite all of the typical 20-something drama, I can’t stop thinking about how, in so many ways, I am a completely different person now than I was 10 years ago.

My 21st birthday

I didn’t intend for this post to be all about my weight loss, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that it was, by far, the greatest accomplishment of my 20s. It changed my life forever. I began my 20s weighing well over 260 pounds, and I was MISERABLE.

Though this blog has lately become more of a running blog than anything else, it all started as a weight loss diary to chronicle just how freakin’ hard it is to lose weight…and actually keep it off.

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My first progress photo…20 pounds down.

I spent my entire life as an obese person. Not overweight, not chunky, but obese. But when I was 22, I stepped on a scale for the first time in I couldn’t even tell you how many years, and a little lightbulb went off. I realized that if I didn’t change my life, that I could easily be 300 pounds by the time I was 30 – if not sooner.

So, I did it. After countless years of yo-yo dieting and eating my feelings and gaining weight and losing weight and gaining it back again, I promised myself that I was going to do it the right way and keep the weight off once and for all.

My last progress photo…90 pounds down.

I changed my relationship with food and I fell in love with working out (and, eventually, running). And I didn’t just become another weight loss success story. I became an athlete.

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Of course, I did some other pretty awesome stuff in my 20s, too.

Like…

I studied abroad in England for a semester in college.

Oh, Wroxton, how I miss you.

And I saw some of the most AMAZINGLY beautiful places.

Ahhh, Venice…

I graduated from college (Fairleigh Dickinson, woot woot).

(Plus, I was a super huge nerd and was the features editor for the campus newspaper and won all kinds of geeky academic awards, haha.)

After a one-year paid insternship at New Jersey Monthly right after graduation, I had (many) unsuccessful attempts at landing a full-time job in the magazine industry. I was stupid enough to work for free as a peon intern at several different magazines for a year or two before I decided to stop kidding myself and follow my dream. I wanted to be a freelance writer.

The idea of going into business for myself was scary as hell, but it’s something I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted to do. And, you know what? I actually friggin’ did it. I won’t be on the Fortune 500 list anytime soon, but I love what I do and I love working from home (in my jammies, lol), and I know the possibilities are endless. Meanwhile, I built my piano teaching business from 2 students to 20+ students, so I get to take a break from staring at my computer screen and hang out with kids every afternoon…and teach them how to play Disney songs. :)

My first byline, for New Jersey Business magazine — still write for them!

I made friends that are still some of my best buds today.

I also made some four-legged friends.

Riley as a puppy!

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My little baby, Miles. <3

And I became best friends with my little sister. We pretty much hated each other for most of our young lives, and now I can’t imagine what I’d do without her.

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Nothing says sisterly love like a little Frozen. ;)

I earned my bo-black belt in Thai Kickboxing. I remember how intimidating it was at first — even though I had lost the weight, I still saw myself as “the fat girl” who didn’t belong in any sort of fitness class, let alone martial arts! But I faced my fear of being laughed out of the place, I fell in love with it, and I can’t believe how far I’ve come over the past 5 years.

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I earned my black belt in Thai Kickboxing (and got to learn how to fight *real* people for the first time, lol).

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I decided to give Taekwondo a try, even though I had pretty much convinced myself that I would NEVER be able to do it. And now I’m dangerously close to testing for my black belt.

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I faced an entirely different fear and decided to sign up for my first 5K. It was that day that I realized that nobody was going to point and laugh at me and tell me that I should go back to the treadmill. I felt like a “real” runner for the first time.

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I ran my first 10K. And almost cried. I couldn’t believe that I ran 6 WHOLE MILES!
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I ran my first half marathon. It still amazes me to think of how terrified I was of not finishing. Even after all those months of training, I had no confidence in myself. I was sure I’d never see that finish line.

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There are no words…

And then I REALLY did the impossible. Me, this former fat girl, attempting to run a marathon? There are some days I still can’t believe I did it…and as part of the insane Dopey Challenge, no less!

Now I’m training for my sixth marathon. So that I can have this experience again. Running NYCM was a MAJOR highlight of the last decade, that’s for sure. :)

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Last but certainly not least :::drumroll, please::: I met this guy.

Our first race. :)

Our first race. :)

A year later, we moved in together. We’ve already had so many adventures over the past two years, and I didn’t even know it was possible to be this happy. <3

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The moral of the story? If there’s one lesson I’m taking with me as I say good-bye to my 20s, it’s that I am so, SO much stronger than I ever thought possible. I am a fighter, and I am capable of absolutely anything. I don’t have to be afraid anymore, because no matter what it is…I know I can do it. Period.

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It’s incredible to think about where I was — physically and mentally — in my early 20s to where I am now. It’s honestly hard for me to remember what it was like living life as “the old me,” but I know she is always with me. She likes to come back and haunt me when I find myself struggling the most…like, say, that last 10K of a marathon, haha.

I still have my own personal battles with body image, and it’s an ongoing journey to accept my body the way it is now — loose skin, stretch marks, and all — after so many years of abusing it with yo-yo dieting and being completely sedentary. But I’m closer now than I’ve ever been to being truly comfortable in my own skin, and that’s something I never, EVER thought would happen.

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Posing for photos in a bathing suit? UNHEARD OF.

Now that I’m (almost!) 30, I have to admit that, despite all of the mistakes I’ve made along the way, I am proud of myself. I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished, and everything I’ve learned along the way. I’m proud that the big thighs I once hated and tried so hard to hide have carried me over countless finish lines and kicked my way through years of intense martial arts training. I’m proud that I managed to break a lifetime of poor eating habits and completely transform my relationship with food.

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I’m a runner now, so that means I can lots and lots of pizza. ;)

Most of all, I’m proud that even when things get hard, I know I can count on myself to never, EVER give up.

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One of the hardest things I’ve ever done!

I am so appreciative of my health and my fitness and my career and my relationships, and looking back, I can honestly say I’m happy with the way things have turned out so far. I can’t wait to see what my 30s have in store for me. :)

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Did you freak out/are you freaked out about turning 30?

Comments

  1. Congratulations. Happy Birthday.

  2. Happy Birthday!! I went through the same thoughts before turning 30, but it hasn’t been so bad. The best is yet to come!

  3. What a great retrospective-HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY and welcome to 30! I will be turning 29 at the end of the month so I am not far off of 30 but for some reason I am more afraid of turning 29 than I am of turning 30. who knows why

    • Thanks, Juliana! I know what you mean — for me, the fact that it was “my last year of my 20s” made 29 feel worse than actually turning 30, lol.

  4. Aww, so many great things have happened in your 20′s to get you where you are now. I always say that your 20′s are all about learning. Your 30′s are for enjoying life now that you are where you want to be in life. Happy Birthday friend! Welcome to the club! (30′s not that bad but shhh, don’t tell anyone)…lol.

    • Thanks so much, Meranda. I think you’re spot on. I learned a heck of a lot in my 20s, and I love where I am now. Happy to be here, haha. :)

  5. Phenomenal post. One of your best ones yet! Happy Birthday and welcome to the 30′s club! I’ve been a member for 5 years now and I have to say that my 30′s have been the best years by far. Congratulations on all your stellar accomplishments. You’ve worked so hard and inspired so many, myself included. Well done!

  6. What an amazing story – you are such an inspiration! I teared up twenty times reading this post!!

    I’m so happy that you have found yourself and are happier than ever. The idea of turning 30 next year is still a little bit scary for me, but I do think it’s going to be a great decade.

    Cheers to you and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

  7. Happy belated birthday! You accomplished and experienced so much in your 20s, I’m sure your 30s will be just as great!

  8. Happy happy birthday! I freaked out when I turned 25, but that was due to events going on around me at the time. I felt ready to turn 30 and at least this summer’s been better than last year.

  9. Happy Belated Birthday! I am loving my 30s and hope you do as well!

Mentioned Elsewhere:

  1. [...] so much for the birthday wishes, everyone! So far, 30 has been treating me [...]

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