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One day I’m gonna tell my kids the story about how I ran two marathons in two different countries in one week, and (hopefully) they’ll think I’m a badass.

In life, we go through a lot of major milestones worth celebrating. For me, graduating college was pretty epic. So was landing my first NY big-girl job. Moving out of my mom’s house — also monumental. Paying my first $1,175 rent bill on my own — flat out amazing for a girl-turned-woman who used to deliver her college newspaper for $20 a day. But my biggest accomplishment to date? Losing — and keeping off — 70 pounds.

I remember the night my journey started like it was yesterday. I was sitting in my college dorm room working on statistics homework when I spotted it out of the corner of my eye. The silver digital scale resting below my bed in the same place I stashed it on move-in day. At the time, it wasn’t that I didn’t know that I had a weight issue. I knew I wasn’t skinny. I never liked to look at photos of myself. But until that point, I had never felt the need to confront my weight head on. As the homework procrastination grew, my curiosity piqued.

So I did it. I pulled the scale out from under my bed and tapped it with my big toe. I stepped on. Those three seconds felt like three hours as I stood there waiting to be confronted with the truth. And then it happened. I was mortified. Momentarily frozen. How did I get here? I wondered, as tears instantly welled up in my eyes — momentarily obscuring the number on the scale. Two-hundred and four pounds.

I had to do something. Without hesitation, I walked over to the dresser and pulled out a high school volleyball sweatshirt. After tripping over myself pulling on a pair of black cotton leggings, I put on sneakers and left my dorm room and headed for the staircase. Breath labored, pulse high, I flung open the exit door.

I took off down the long stretch of road into the night alongside my dorm, sprinting as fast as my legs could carry me. Within 30 seconds, I collapsed onto the grass, overtaken with emotion. How did I get here? I asked myself again. It hit me like daggers in my 18-year-old stomach. Two-hundred and four pounds. I replayed the numbers on that small, dusty screen over and over in my head. It didn’t take long, lying there, before I knew what I had to do. I knew I had to make a change. I knew I had to lose weight. I knew I couldn’t live like that anymore. In that moment, I promised myself I wouldn’t.

Seven years later, a lot has happened since that night lying in the grass freshman year. There was a point when I joined Weight Watchers and went to weekly meetings, sometimes with my mom. I picked up running and completed my first half-marathon. I trained for and ran a full marathon. And another. And another. And then I was crazy enough to run another two marathons on different continents within six days, something 204-pound Emily would’ve never in her wildest dreams ever fathomed.

Still, as a woman in my late 20s, I’m well aware that maintaining this weight loss and an active, healthy lifestyle is a daily commitment. I know that my journey is lifelong. Here are the three biggest lessons I learned that helped me to lose 70 pounds:

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