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Quarantine brought on a lot of things: a lack of toilet paper, crazy fear, and weight.

I’ve always been a curvier girl. I remember spending my early teen years comparing myself to the skinny girls I went to school with and wishing that I looked like them. In high school, I always felt overwhelmed, so I began to stress eat. Shortly after graduation, I began to realize that my weight did not define my beauty or self-worth. Through my journey to finding self-love, I learned that it doesn’t matter how much I weigh or what size my jeans are — both are just numbers. The most important thing is that I’m active and healthy.

So, I started to hit the gym, but I never forced myself to truly diet. I simply learned how to relieve my stress in much healthier ways, like writing. I started a pretty great regimen, which made me feel a lot happier and healthier. [bf_image id="qaooi3-4axtp4-fgf5gb"]

After spending months under quarantine, there was a huge drop in my activity levels. Both my job and the gym were closed, which didn't help much either. Once Animal Crossing made its way into the world, I spent more time than I’d like to admit perfecting my island. I slept crazy hours and would wake up at 4 p.m. to start my day.

It was ROUGH. My body always felt drained; I slugged through the last month of my classes, and eating felt like either a chore or an act of boredom. I spent just about every day in clothes that were stretchy and comfortable. I joked around about how it had been weeks since I had worked out, and who knew if my jeans would still fit.

Finally, when it was time to go back to work, my jeans did fit, but they were tight. Old me, the one who hadn’t learned to love myself regardless of my weight, would have gone through the seven stages of grief after realizing I’d probably have to go up a pant size. I worked so hard to get to where I was, but I had to remind myself that nobody planned for a global pandemic. I still haven’t gone back to the gym since everything shut down. At first, it stung a bit, since I found joy in lifting weights, but I found other ways to be active. [bf_image id="q2wim2-1wj21k-bcwfcq"]

I started to take walks around my neighborhood and began learning how to skateboard. Since I have a big chest, I’ve always hated running. However, I invested in a good sports bra and decided to give it a chance. I haven’t lost all the weight I gained yet, but to be honest, that’s okay. I know in my heart that I’m doing what’s right for my body and overall health.

Will I lose weight? Probably. When? Who knows. And you know what, who cares? At the end of the day, my beauty is not defined by the number on the scale. It took me a long time to realize that, but now, as an adult, it’s something I wish I could help everyone understand. Listen to your body, take care of it, and love it with everything you have.

Steph is in her fourth year studying biomedical science and neuropsychology at the University of Central Florida. She is very much into going to the theme parks in Orlando and spends her day loving dogs and hyping over Harry Potter. When she's not writing, she's dying over MCAT prep, volunteering, research, or binge watching the latest Netflix show. Instagram: @stephaaniejimenez
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