When I was younger, I could eat whatever I wanted and I wouldn’t gain weight. But after I had my first daughter in 1999, I noticed that I was slowly gaining weight. I was unhappy with what I saw when I looked in the mirror, but I couldn’t find the motivation to make a change. My doctor told me I was obese and that I needed to lose weight. Even my husband told me that he couldn’t help me change, that I had to find the motivation myself; but I still wasn’t motivated to do anything.

Then in 2011, I was put on medication after I developed high blood pressure, and a year later, I was terrified to discover that when I walked too much, my legs would swell and I would develop red marks on my shins. I thought something might be wrong with my heart and one day as I struggled to catch my breath after walking up a hill, I knew I needed to do something about my weight if I wanted to be around to see my kids grow up, get married, and have kids of their own.

That same year, the cyber school I use to homeschool my kids sent pedometers as part of their PE class. One of their goals was to do a mile in 20 minutes. The first thing they wanted them to do was to see how many steps they could take in 5 minutes. I thought, “I can do that! I can walk!” So I bought a pedometer for myself and began walking with my kids every day.

Towards the end of that year, the pastor of my church gave a sermon on setting goals and inspired me to write down my goals for the year. My long term goal was to lose 100 pounds from my starting weight of 245 pounds but I didn’t want to set myself up for failure (I had no idea how long it would take to lose that much weight) so I changed my goal to lose 50 pounds.

Originally, I didn’t set goals regarding my diet because I just wanted to focus on exercise. I realized within the first week that I needed to eat right if I wanted to get serious about losing weight. I became mindful about what I ate and worked to make sure that I never went over my targeted daily calorie consumption. I was a huge soda drinker and started by cutting down to one can of soda a day. I learned very quickly that I was eating way too much, and I was surprised how quickly my body adjusted to eating less. It wasn’t as hard as I thought! I admit that I still ate things I “shouldn’t”, but I always made sure I had the calories for them! My motto was “moderation is key” when it came to things I “shouldn’t” eat. Most people think they need to totally give up eating certain things like sugar, flour, fats, and carbs in order to lose weight; but I learned that you can still lose weight by simply cutting back on the amount of foods you love that aren’t good for you.

A friend of mine who knew I had enjoyed walking sent me some workout DVDs when she heard about my weight loss goal. I began doing a 1-mile walk in addition to the DVD every single day in January. My kids worked out with me Monday through Friday and I did the workout on my own on the weekends. I moved on to the 2-mile workout and did that every day for a month, and then I plotted a route in town with a distance of 3 miles and we did that every day.

One day, I decided to try jogging the length of one block. I was able to run that whole block and finished ahead of my kids! I had to fight back tears when I realized just how strong I was becoming! After that, I would pick a block each mile that we would jog, and eventually, we would alternate between walking and jogging between blocks for an entire mile. I kept extending how far I would jog until I was able to jog a full mile!

Mother's Day 2012 vs 2016

Just 6 months into my weight loss journey, I was taken off of my blood pressure medication because I no longer had high blood pressure! By the end of 2013, I was exercising 60 minutes a day! But the most exciting part, I had exceeded my goal by losing 78 pounds by the end of 2013 (86 pounds if you add in the 9 pounds I lost at the end of 2012)!

I participated in my first ever 5K in May of 2013. I walked most of it, but I did jog down the hills. I set a goal of finishing in under 45 minutes, and I was thrilled when I crossed the finish line in 43 minutes and 22 seconds. That day, I decided I was going to run the entire 5K the following year and the following May, I participated in my second 5K and I ran the entire thing. I finished in 31 minutes and 10 seconds, an all-time best for me! I really wanted to be able to finish a 5K in under 30 minutes, so I continued to practice and four months later (a month after running my first half marathon distance!), I ran my second 5K in 29 minutes and 26 seconds!

I continued to work towards my ultimate goal of losing 100 pounds in 2014. I officially reached my goal in August of 2014, and then I surpassed it a few weeks later! After losing about 105 pounds, I put on some weight because I started getting serious about strength training which I now do twice a week. I also stopped counting calories which has led me to stay constant at my current weight of 150-155 pounds. It doesn’t surprise me that my weight is sitting comfortably in this range because I think that’s where my body is most comfortable and I’m OK with that. I began my weight loss journey at 245 pounds and wore a size 2X shirt and 22W jeans. Today, I’m 153 pounds, I wear a size small in shirts, and I wear a US size 6 in jeans!

I began my weight loss journey a few months before I turned 44. I was never a runner in my life, but I ran an entire 5K and ran my first half marathon distance when I was 45 years old. I’m now 47 years old, I’ve run a few more half marathons on my own (I’ve never entered an “official” half marathon race because I can’t afford to do that, but I have a 13.1-mile course mapped out in town and I ran that 3 times last year!), and I just ran my first official 10K on May 7, 2016, finishing with a personal best of 1 hour 4 minutes and 29 seconds.

Finishing the 10K - May 2016

I never dreamed that I would become a runner. I just wanted to become healthier but I had one additional goal that I wrote down when I created my other goals back in 2013. I wanted to be able to show ONE person that if I could do this, so could they. I took “before” pictures and I let my friends on Facebook know that I was on a journey to lose 100 pounds. I kept people updated on my progress by taking pictures and posting about my workouts. I joined a few weight loss support groups on Facebook as well. I began to hear “You’re an inspiration!” and “You’ve inspired me!” A LOT. Every time I heard the word “inspire” or “inspiration”, I smiled and had to fight back the tears. I just want to help others in any way that I can when they choose to begin their weight loss journey/lifestyle change. I have a few friends that I now walk and jog with now and it’s been an honor to help support them reach their own goals. because they reached out to me for help. What an honor it is to watch others succeed because I offered help and support to them!

When people ask me if I’m still on a diet, I tell them that I was never on a diet. I made a lifestyle change that will continue for the rest of my life. Yes, I still eat things that aren’t the healthiest like sweets and fast food, but I did that the entire time I was losing weight! I truly believe you can lose weight without totally changing what you eat. It’s about portion control and moderation. When you’re looking to start exercising, find something you love to do! It makes it a lot easier to work out when you enjoy doing it! You will need motivation and determination because it takes a lot of hard work to lose weight, but you can lose the weight if you set your mind to it. If I can do this, so can you!