Growing up in Florida we spent a lot of time at the beach. Our family was pretty low-income with my Dad in school and Mom staying at home with my brother and I so we took advantage of being outside and doing free activities as much as possible. Most photos of me between the ages of 5-now show me as a fairly tan person (most photos with my brother don't include a gun in his mouth).
Flash forward to 2009 and I'm still tan (and blonde!)
When I gradated from high school one of my first 'real' jobs was working at a Tanning Salon where "tanning is part of the uniform!" I only worked there for about a year but the bad habit stayed with me. For the last 10 years I have had a tanning membership and the majority of those years were spent going 5-6 times a week.
I know, I know, it's terrible.
I've been trying to cut back the last few weeks. Matt has been encouraging me to do so in an effort to keep me around and healthy for as long as possible (I caught myself such a wonderful guy!) It's actually been really difficult for me. Almost harder than quitting smoking in some aspects. I use tanning as a time for relaxation and stress relief. I use it to help my skin look better when I'm breaking out. I use it to feel better about my body (an old slogan at the salon was 'tan fat looks better than white fat'!).
In the end - none of those things matter one damn bit when your jeopardizing your health.
I can't say I've fully embraced life on the light side yet. I'll still be at the beach on the weekends getting a bit of color this summer but I'm happy I've finally taken the very hard first step.