Failing does not equal failure

Sadly, becoming a US Marine did not alleviate my weight struggles. Leaving boot camp I was SKINNY, I could run like the wind, but I still was considered overweight by Marine Corps standards. Within a month of leaving boot camp, I gained the 7 pounds I lost in boot camp plus another 20 pounds!! I thought since I was "skinny", I could eat what I wanted. Of course, I didn't take into consideration that I was not living like I had in boot camp: I watched TV, slept late, played on my computer and found more time to be sedentary. By time I got to my training school, I was so overweight they put me on BCP, the Body Composition Program. On the days we did not have physical training (PT), I had to go to a "special" training group where we ran until our legs fell off. Actually, I ran 7 days a week, a minimum of 3 miles a day until I developed tendinitis in my knee from overuse. Medical put me on light duty which meant I wasn't allowed to run: That proved difficult when trying to lose weight. Honestly, in a few weeks time of running I was at the same weight at which I started boot camp, but continued to go to BCP.

The entire 4 years of serving in the Marine Corps, I never made it back down to my leaving boot camp weight. I yo-yo-ed my way through the entire 4 years. I was always cutting it close with body fat percentage and always knew I would just "be bigger". I remember one day a male Marine telling me that his friend would never be interested in me because I wasn't "the prettiest" person: Code for you are bigger and have too much acne. It was heart wrenching, but because I believed he was right I just agreed with him!!!!! WHAT?!?!?!? Thinking back, I am blown away by myself! However, all of the things this Marine was saying about me, I had said to myself for years. You're not pretty enough; you're not skinny enough; you're not athletic enough; you're too slow; you're not smart enough; you'll never be that good; you're just average at best; you're likeable, but not the kind of girl good looking guys date; you're the friend. All of these thoughts (and so many more negative ones) would cycle through my head constantly from 9 years old to this point when I was 20. His comment was nothing I hadn't heard before from me. Truth of the matter is I couldn't stand up for myself because I had no legs to stand on. I disliked myself more than he thought I was unattractive.

Here's a win for you young girls out there though: That friend of his and I ended up dating for years and almost got married. When I told my boyfriend at that time what his friend said, he was shocked! He couldn't believe his friend said that, and he really couldn't believe that I would believe I was so unattractive. So there are good guys out there, but before you go looking for one, make sure you believe you are valuable. I was fortunate that he was a good guy, I could have just as likely ended up with a guy like his friend reinforcing my negative thoughts.

It has been nearly a decade and a half since that conversation and I remember it like it was yesterday. I used to spend time beating myself up over not standing up for myself that day; but the truth of the matter is that if I do that, I am still treating myself negatively. We are all bogged down by the perceived failures in our daily lives. Our culture values success more than we value hard work, trying and improvement. I believe if we focus on the latter, we will be more successful in life. Look at all the things you have learned by trying and failing. You don't get better by being successful the first go around, you get better by trying and failing until you figure it out. If you don't fail you're not pushing your boundaries which means you cannot improve. And if you do fail, YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE! You failed, but you are not a failure. Those are two very different and distinct words. Get comfortable with failing without beating yourself up and assuming you're a failure.

Let me use strength training as a metaphor: If you want to strengthen your arms, you have to strength train. You will go to the gym and workout your arms using several different exercises. Each week you go, you have to increase the resistance. If you stay with the same five pound weights for 2 months, you didn't improve your strength- you maintained. You have to breakdown your muscle fibers so much that you fail at the movement by the end of the last rep. When you give your muscles the protein, rest, and recovery time, they will build back stronger and thicker- constantly improving.

The same concept applies to life: When you keep push your boundaries (upping the resistance), you will come to a point of failure. Then you will reflect, assess and reset (rest and recovery). When you do that, you will get a little closer to pushing through that boundary- constant improvement. You will be wiser and stronger for the next unforeseen obstacle too. Don't be afraid of failing, embrace the opportunity to learn.

All my best for a healthy, boundary pushing, learning week!
LJ
Me, my mother, and my big sister at Boot Camp Graduation
(My uniform was sized a the beginning of boot camp and I was swimming in it!)

Me and my big sis!


Me and both my big sisters! 
(I was probably about 15-20 pounds heavier than the previous photos)