In the middle of March I was too afraid to weigh myself. All of my favorite shirts no longer seemed to fit, and I found myself dreading to go shopping for clothes as I knew I would be upset the sizes I would fit in. It was around this time that I was also at my unhealthiest. I drank and smoked often, at this point I even stooped to smoking cigarettes. No matter how you looked at it, my life was a mess at the time. To top everything off, I was still hung up about an ex-girlfriend who was already seeing someone new.

I wasn’t happy in the slightest. It felt as if everything I wanted was miles away and I could only move at a snail’s pace. I look back at this time with great curiosity. I knew all of my problems, yet I put no effort into actually changing. I would say to myself and others about all of the weight I wanted to lose, but I would eat three enormous meals a day, with tons of snacks in between them. I wouldn’t exercise either. In my prime, I would run for 45 minutes every other day. I looked back at the time as if it was all in the past.

Being an extrovert I think April hit hard. I had to move back in with my parents because I got laid off and couldn’t afford my rent anymore. In my hometown I have very little friends and I’m only really close with my brother so for once I had to adapt to a more introverted lifestyle. I thought constantly. What else was I to do? It was around this time that my ex-girlfriend were in the middle of a falling out. She would persistently give me mixed signals despite being in a relationship with another man. I wanted her more than anything in the world. I look back now and clearly understand that she wasn’t good for me. I did not want her, what I really wanted was validation. I wanted to feel like I mattered, like I was still attractive, like I was worthy of live. My insecurity was eating away at me and caused me to pursue anything that would make me feel as if I was good enough. I did not love myself, therefore I believed that if someone else loved me, I could love myself.

Fast forward. It’s June 9th. My ex-girlfriend and I have our final phone call with one another. It doesn’t go well. While it was clear that we missed each other, her current boyfriend had just proposed to her. She wanted to move in with him. This contradicts everything that had been going on the last couple of months. She had been telling me she loves me, that she thinks of me, calling me at 2AM. All of this just to hear that she wants move in with him. Pain. Pain. Pain. It was all I felt.

Something changed in me. The next three days the pain took many forms. Sometimes it was angry, sometimes miserable, sometimes numb. Above all, the pain created a drive in me that I had not felt in a long time. Years. I refused to let myself lose anymore. I began to reflect on our relationship. In the past, I would romanticize it. This time I looked at it objectively. I saw everything for what it was. I saw the way she mistreated me. I saw the reason we broke up. I saw the emotional distress she put me through. In the past I was okay with that. Not anymore.

June 12th. I find myself needing to do something big. Something that definitively says, “we’re done.” I write her a letter. The letter contained everything I needed to say to her. Everything she needed to hear. I expressed my disgust in her behavior and the way she has treated me like a tool instead of a human with feelings. I poured my heart and soul into it. That was it. Sent it and didn’t look back. Haven’t heard from her since.

After that I felt new. I had nothing holding me back. All of the baggage I was carrying around with me seemed to evaporate. I was still sad of course, but I was more inspired than ever to make change. I thought to myself, “I want to win.” Call it childish, call it immature, call it whatever you want. I wanted to win. There was absolutely no way that I was going to let myself accept years of failing and have her come out on top. No. I could not live in the reality where I continued to gain weight and spiral into in even worse state. I imagined from her perspective or from anyone else’s I would look so defeated. “I refuse to lose.” I told myself.

I started to run again. Not in a half baked way like I had been doing the last couple of months, but I really started to run. I kicked off being doing my usual routine of 45 minutes every other day. At the beginning, I would only be able to accomplish about 5 miles in that time. I continued to run. Going a little further each time.

I started watching what I ate too (finally). I would eat eggs and a banana for breakfast, and in the evening I would eat just vegetable. I found that with each day running became less of a chore and instead something I looked forward to. I would get an itch for that high I would get after an intense run. My mind felt as clear as glass after every run. My mentality was sharp. The drive was strong. I also quit drinking and smoking as I no longer felt the need to participate in that false happiness. I was starting to feel happier. I was experiencing life and more of what it had to offer, ironically, in quarantine.

The weight started to shred. I would burn through a couple pounds a week. By the end of the first two months, I was almost down 25. I got even hungrier. My 45 minutes every other day turned in to 45 minutes every single day. Eventually, I was running an hour every single day for 5 days a week. I could see my body begin to change in a way that liked. I now looked in the mirror and liked what I saw – almost handsome.

I had more time to spend on my hobbies. I learned to cook a new recipe every single day during quarantine. I wrote 4 short scripts, I painted, read 3 books, and listened to podcasts frequently. I felt like a giant sponge just taking everything in. For the first time in a long time I felt genuinely alive and happy. I was making the most out of life instead of just living it on autopilot. Most importantly, I began to love myself again. I began feeling more confident in myself. Not just because of the weight loss, but because of all the active measures I was taking for my mind as well. I liked my thoughts more, I felt sharper, wiser, funnier, better at conversation. It was like night and day.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m far, far, FAR away from being perfect, but after quarantine I can say I’m definitely a little closer. I think it’s important to recognize that no matter how much effort we put into being better, there’s always more work to do. Even after all that I did during quarantine, I still feel like there’s so much more for me to work on about myself. I have a lot of shortcomings and that’s fine! I’m excited if anything as it gives more to work on. It’s the next challenge.

If you want to make a change do it. Be hard on yourself. Be critical. You need to be 100% honest with yourself. Then, more important, put in the effort to enact that change. Don’t just say you will. Don’t say you don’t have time (you’re not Bill Gates – you can exercise for an hour). Do it. Stop making excuses. You will not regret it andI guarantee you will come out on top. Again, doesn’t have to be weight loss, if you want to be a better chef, do it. Want to be a better spouse, do it. Put in the work. I believe in you.

A while ago I was in my car after a long day at work. I was tired beyond belief. Just wanted to go home and knock out. I started to reflect on the weight loss and all of the progress I made. Though I was so tired, I felt that fire inside of me light up and excite me. I did it. I smiled from ear to ear thinking about everything. I was finally happy. I pumped my left fist. At the top of my lungs I yelled, “I won!”