The most significant changes are the ones that you cannot see in these pictures. Ending my internal struggles with body image, confidence and self-worth was more important to me than just getting skinny. I wanted to be strong and confident, regardless of how I looked on the outside.

As a soldier in the US Army, I was in pretty good shape and felt self-assured while wearing the uniform. Once I left the military, I stopped working out, had some bad eating habits and struggled to find my identity. As my weight increased, my self-confidence decreased. I thought I was fat and ugly and would wear baggy clothes to hide the weight gain from my friends. I avoided new social situations and when I had to go out, I would have anxiety attacks over what I was going to wear, since everything made me look fat. To make things worse, I drowned my feelings in alcohol. When I bought my first pair of size 12 jeans I decided that it was time to make a change. I couldn’t allow myself to continue being unhappy.

I started training with Lauren and at first it was painfully difficult. She pushed me to the brink and made me lift weight that I never imagined myself being capable of lifting. But she knew I could do it even when I didn’t think I could. As the weight on that bar increased so did my confidence. I now wear tank tops and skirts and don’t feel the need to hide myself anymore. I know that no matter how my body changes over the years that I am strong and beautiful, on the inside and out.

Lauren helped me regain my Warrior Spirit. She made me realize that true strength is not how much you can lift or how far you can run but that It comes from an unconquerable will. The strongest people in the world are the ones who continue to fight every day, undaunted by fear. And I will continue to fight, no matter what gets in my way.