My weight loss journey has been a slow and steady path from college to now…but really it all began long before that with how I felt about myself in high school. I played sports starting at age 5 and kept going right on through high school. This allowed me to feel confident…but my mom’s constant mutterings that she was fat and our household consumption of soda and twizzlers allowed me to be a slightly chubby kid. At the beginning of high school I had an awesome growth spurt and joined swim team. Unfortunately, these two things lead to my feeling that I could and should eat anything I wanted. While my portions were never huge, my selections of a muffin and pizza were problematic.
My junior year is when my weight really hit its highest…in looking at myself now (above on the right and below in the middle) I can’t believe that was me…really I can’t. I wasn’t heavy by any means, but at 165 I wasn’t fit or healthy and I really wasn’t happy.
Homecoming was a point where I really started to feel my round face and chubby arms…I don’t think I wore a tank top again for years after seeing this picture. At the time running was a punishment provided to me by coaches when the team wasn’t doing well or someone was late for practice, it was not enjoyable.
I knew how to workout, I’d done that forever…I went to the gym and did the elliptical or biked, but it wasn’t right for my body and nothing really changed. My Sophomore year of college I started walking… A LOT…all the time and I started doing Tae Bo because that was all the rage. This helped my cardio and I started to feel more confident.
My Junior year I started run/walking…slowly that became more run than walk. But I wasn’t going very far on those runs and my ONLY purpose was weight loss, not joy, not fun, not anything else but burning calories. And for me running was the formula for weight loss unlike any other cardio I’d ever done.
At the end of my Junior year a group of girls decided they were going to run the Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon. I wanted more friends, they were nice…ok I’ll sign up! Suddenly I found myself training to run 13.1 miles. I hated the cold on race morning, wanted to drop kick some one around mile 7, knew I just wasn’t meant to be a runner at mile 10, BUT then I crossed the finish line.
Everything changed. I was a runner. I was confident, I was strong and I could do more than anyone thought. I feel in love with running in that painful moment (or 2:15) and never looked back. Suddenly it was an excuse to be outside in nice weather, it was a way to describe who I am, it was a method of continuing to work on my body and it made me feel amazing.
Each run for me is validation that I am in charge of my life and making healthy choices. You’d think after 8 years I would be over the novelty of knowing I can run…but I’m not. With running there is always another level and a new challenge. You can get faster or go farther or run more and that appeals to my personal competitive nature.
I’ve never become much of a racer. I prefer to do a couple a year and spend the rest of my time just enjoying the motions. BUT I have learned the value of friends made through this sport and that is something I will continue to improve because it took me almost 6 years of running to learn it’s more fun with friends…odd considering I started this whole thing to make friends. So why the shift? I learned to enjoy being around myself…I’m an only child so time alone is enjoyable to me, but really liking myself that was a whole new ball game.
Sure I lost 35 lbs along the way, toned up in ways I never imagined…but really running gave me so much more than a different body. I became a nicer person, a friendlier person…a person who not only wanted to tackle the world, but finally thought that I could, all because one day I crossed my first finish line in 2:15.
What has running done for you?
I am grateful for no regrets
I am grateful for optimism
I am grateful for freedom to make choices
I am grateful for your support
I am grateful for fast forward