As a child, my only goal for the future was to be skinny. But since I grew up eating whatever I wanted and never exercised, I steadily gained weight. My dream seemed more out of reach as I continued to gain weight. I tried countless fad diets to lose weight, but none worked. By the time I reached my early 20s, I weighed almost 200 pounds, which was unhealthy for my height of 5 feet 5 inches.

Then during my second year of law school, a friend asked me to join a weight-loss program with her, and thinking it wouldn't hurt, I joined. I met with a weight-loss counselor who evaluated my eating habits each week and showed me ways to make my diet more healthful. For example, I learned to monitor my portion sizes and eat the right amount of carbs, protein and fat. My counselor placed me on a high-satiety meal plan that was full of nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and was around 1,800 calories. But to remain on that plan (and not have to move down to the 1,200-calorie plan) I had to exercise at least four times a week. That gave me the motivation I needed to start exercising.

I joined an aerobics class with some friends, and we started going five times a week. The first month was hard - I was short of breath during the class, but having my friends with me made it bearable. After a month, I noticed how much I enjoyed feeling the sweat pouring from my face, and soon I became addicted to exercise. I started leaving my law-school classes early so I could rush to make it to aerobics on time.

I noticed the changes in my body very gradually. After two months, my face became slimmer and people commented that I looked different. I didn't realize I was making progress until I had to go shopping to buy new, smaller-sized clothes. I kept my workouts challenging by adding Spinning classes to my routine. Spinning pushed me like never before and I became enthralled by what my body could do. Eight months after I joined the weight-loss program, I had lost 45 pounds. Healthful eating and regular exercise were the keys to my successful weight loss. Although I'm not skinny, as I had imagined when I was younger, I'm lean and healthy, which is the most important thing. My lifelong dream has finally come true.

My next goal is to help others achieve their workout goals. I've already taken my first step in that direction by becoming a certified aerobics instructor, and I'm working toward becoming a certified Spinning instructor. Achieving my dream has changed my life: I feel fit and confident. I walk with my head high because I've worked hard to attain my new life, and I've never been happier.