My weight was average until I was in the middle of fourth grade. Then I hit a growth spurt, and along with eating a diet filled with chips, soda, candy and other high-fat food, I quickly gained weight and fat. My parents thought that I would lose the weight, but by the time I finished grade school two years later, I weighed 175 pounds.

On the outside, I had a smile and looked happy, but on the inside, I was depressed and angry that I was larger than my peers. I was desperate to do anything I could to lose weight; I tried fad diets or ate nothing for days at a time. I would lose a few pounds, but then become frustrated and give up.

Finally, during my sophomore year of high school, I was tired of being overweight and out of shape. I wanted to look like other girls my age and feel better about myself. I read about health and fitness and learned the basics for weight loss through the Internet.

First, I started to exercise, which included walking or riding my bike. After a few weeks, I didn't see any results, so I switched to working out with aerobics tapes. Every afternoon, while my friends went to the mall, I went straight home and did my workouts. I was often huffing and puffing during the tape and unable to catch my breath, but I knew I had to do it in order to reach my goal.

I started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, cereal and turkey. As the days went on, I stopped craving foods like cake and ice cream and started enjoying oranges and carrots.

Although I weighed myself each week, the best way to monitor my progress was by the fit of my clothes. Each week, my pants became looser and soon, they didn't fit at all. I started exercising with strength-training videos, which built muscle and helped me burn more calories.

A year later, I reached my goal weight of 135 pounds, a loss of 40 pounds. After that, I concentrated on maintaining my weight loss. For a while, I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to keep off the weight, but I realized that if I kept most of the same habits that I had when I was losing weight, I'd be fine. I'm finally the happy person I was meant to be. Being healthy and fit is something that I had longed for, and now I treasure it. Even though it took me a little over a year to lose the extra weight, I know that it'll be a lifelong process to keep the weight off, but the payoff is worth it.