I feel like friends and family are your greatest mirrors. If you’re being a jerk, you can see it in their faces. If you’re sad, you see that, too. Last year, in particular, my friends and family mirrored a lot of my own discomfort. I like to think of myself as a particularly positive person, even through intense struggles. But, when nearly every time you speak to the people around you, and they seem a little down, you begin to realize you’re not fooling anyone.

Since flipping the switch with personal trainer and owner of Shape Plus Personal Training Jess Hogue, I’ve managed to come a long way. And, not just in weight loss or lifestyle changes, though that has happened, too. I’m happy. I’m searching, but I’m happy. I’m navigating specific, meticulous waters, but I’m so happy. Bad things happen, but I’m resiliently happy. It’s never more apparent than when I’m with my people. They mirror this euphoric glow back to me, they give me the energy that I’m now able to give them in return.

I owe so much of this to them. (And here comes the acceptance speech, but I truly mean it.) I owe so much of this to Jess and to my workout partners, to the countless people–PR agents, perfect strangers, fans of 303 Magazine, people I haven’t spoken to in years, Colorado in general (explanation about that below)–I owe so much of this to them for taking the energy to be supportive and congratulatory, interested and energizing. It’s so humbling and motivating. It’s absolutely beautiful to see how many people will get behind you when you’re trying to make a positive change. I never expected to have that to this extent.

I was speaking to a friend who lives in London about what I’ve been up to, and she said she’s struggling to do the same thing. She said there’s not much of a workout culture in London, so it’s hard to keep on track. Well, nothing could be farther from the truth in Denver, and Colorado in general. Here, people get it; they get the whole thing. They get how, with all the amazing food and beer, you can get off track (and that’s just the temptations, let alone where your mind and personal history can take you). But, they also get how important healthy food is and how tasty it can be. They get why physical fitness matters. It takes someone who’s in the top 1 percent of hardcore for anyone to label someone a fanatic or extreme or crazy. Simply, this city knows the value of health. We’ve decided, as a culture, to put our money where or mouths are, too. How else would so many options for gyms and healthy food exist? As a community, we created this culture where we can have it all.

Amanda and I flipping the Bad MoFo tire.

I’m incredibly humbled by the amount of support and encouragement I’ve received.  I didn’t expect my journey to have a rippling affect that went this far. It’s the most rewarding part of this experience. To see people start to care about themselves in the same way, to see people try something new, to see someone who hasn’t put on workout gear in years go to the gym. It’s so inspiring, and it’s just cyclic motivation. I love it. I’m thriving because of it.

Jess has a lot of insight on the subject: “Proud is great and you should be proud, because you have earned it. Cocky isn’t so great. I have seen so many people drop the ball when they get too cocky–and they get kicked around so bad when they fall, because so many people want to see them fall. But, proud and humble–now there is greatness. It keeps everyone rooting for you and encourages others to follow instead of wanting to see you fail. Please remember how important the support has been from others. Thank them for their help, keep thanking them for their help, and show them appreciation–and you will continue getting it to go all the way. Humility is true greatness.”

Here’s to you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Without the support of the people around me, I could never have turned my life around. I’m so very grateful.

To learn more about where I’m working out, click here.