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It’s been a tough couple of weeks, what with the rash and steroids and advice not to sweat, but despite it all I dropped another three pounds, bringing my total to 15 pounds for the six weeks. At least, that’s what my scale says. The scales at the gym and at my doctor’s office usually have me at least five to eight pounds more.

The difference may be that when I weigh myself at home, it’s always first thing in the a.m., and naked.

I’m used to dropping that much in about two weeks on any of the diets I’ve tried in the past – Weight Watchers, Atkins, Fat Flush (the worst!) – so this is slower, but no doubt healthier.

Tomorrow I go to weigh in and get measured for my gym’s Biggest Loser Challenge, which starts Monday. It will be a higher number than my home scale, but I won’t be discouraged. While there’s no way they’ll post names and weights, I do hope they’ll post updates on percentages of weight lost during the eight-week competition.

I need to know what I’m up against.

Earlier today, I was talking with someone about this contest, and was asked about my competitive nature. It’s because I’ve been underestimated my whole life. Notice how easily the phrase “fat and lazy” rolls off the tongue. Like a southern accent, being overweight is often equated with lack of education or knowledge.

Except I was always an A student. (Well, all the way through high school graduation. Ohio State was another matter, though I did graduate with a ‘B’ average.) And, doggone it, I’m a damn good writer, excellent editor and great with numbers.

Yet there have been instances throughout my career where I’ve been passed over for certain assignments because it was believed I couldn’t carry my weight, so to speak. Let’s be honest: It’s hard enough being a black female in this world. Add a bunch of weight, and that’s three strikes.

My saving grace, I believe, has been my personality. People like me. I like people. I remember one case in particular where an attractive, thin, colleague just assumed she’d beat me out for a promotion – never mind that I was better at, well, pretty much everything. She had a small, fractious fan club, the loudest of whom let me know he really wanted her to have the new job to get her out of his department.

What I had was a reputation. I got the promotion because I was far and away the most qualified.

I used to say I liked being underestimated, but that’s not really true. I’m sick and tired of the assumptions, and am past the point of feeling the need to prove myself worthy to anyone.

Just this week, I’ve ended business relationships with a group of clients that were just a drag on my psyche. Tried to convince me they’re “friends” – always wanting something, never wanting to pay. So I was like, Sayonara, suckers.

It hurt a little bit and I felt like a traitor, but that’s part of the self-esteem problem I’m working on.

Self-esteem isn’t everything; it’s just that there’s nothing without it. ~ Gloria Steinem

Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.