I was organizing pictures on my computer a few days ago. The boys came in and wanted to scroll through old pictures. I knew my weight had fluctuated a lot in the last 9 years and in 2017 I realized I had a problem. After Gideon was born, I lost all the baby weight and then some. I had changed my eating, joined the gym, found out I loved kickboxing and made healthy choices. When 2014 rolled around that all went to crap. That year smoked us. We were in and out of the hospital a million times, we had more surgeries than any family should have, my best friend moved to Boston, everything and anything that could go wrong did. The thing that helped the most? Coffee with a lot of creamer and eating at night. I joke. They were coping mechanisms that really took a toll on my body. By late winter, early spring of 2017 I went to the doctor for a cough that wouldn’t stop and had to step on a scale. Never again I told myself. The first thing I did was take a walk every day. Then I stopped eating at night. We eventually joined the gym and I found a routine. I lost about twenty pounds that first year. Last spring, I started running and finally got that coffee creamer out of my diet. I lost another twenty pounds.

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Here’s the thing I realized though. It was never about the weight.

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I had spent the last ten years hiding behind my kids and husband. I was, “Ryan Stanley’s wife.” I am, “Skyler’s mom.” I took pride in being, “A strong mom.” I hid behind those roles because I had nothing of my own to stand on. I didn’t make time for it.

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I started going to the gym but the thing that helped the most: I found me again. I remembered what I was passionate about. I remembered the things I dreamt about when I was a kid. It’s not that motherhood wasn’t something I had wanted it just wasn’t the only thing I ever wanted. I wanted to write and tell stories. I wanted to share truth and love with people. I wanted to have conversations that changed me and you. I wanted the people who lived in my brain to come out and be as real to you as they are to me.

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I walk around with a smile on my face more than I have in a long time. I’m bolder. I’m braver. I lost some weight, I want to lose some more, but I really just lost all the baggage that had weighed me down for too long. I’m still me. I’m just a better me for myself and for you.