In high school, I told myself that I would run a marathon by the time I was 40. At the time, I was a runner. Unfortunately, I did not stick with this habit or any consistent exercise after graduation. I became more and more inactive while gaining a significant amount of weight. I never forgot about my goal; however, it was something that simply did not seem realistic for a long period of time.
Two years ago, I took the first step towards once again making this goal a reality. I joined a local gym in Dalton, Georgia, where I was living at the time, and I connected with an amazing mentor, trainer, and friend who helped me to lose a little over 100 pounds in a little more than 10 months. Following is the text of a Wall of Fame portrait that I was asked to complete shortly after this and is displayed at my former gym:
I moved to Dalton in June 2009. Having battled my weight for more than 20 years, I never imagined this was the place that I would finally get a handle on my health. In November, a colleague and I decided to begin a Biggest Loser challenge at work. Participation and interest in the challenge quickly faded, but I still wanted and needed to do something for myself. On January 1st, I joined Peak Fitness and signed up for a weight loss camp conducted by MaryAnnWood. I also signed up for a Biggest Loser challenge at Peak. In a little more than two months, I lost 30 1/2 pounds. I decided to continue with my daily food and exercise logs that were e-mailed to Mary Ann in addition to weighing in at the gym once a week. I believe this piece of accountability was critical for me in finally making and sticking with the change. As of August 15th, 2010, I had lost a total of 92 pounds. I completely transformed my diet and lifestyle, but with this, I also feel like I transformed my life. I have more energy and confidence. It's been a lot of work, but it's been worth every effort. I also know that if I can finally do this, anyone who sets their mind to it can also. I hope that in some small way I can now help to motivate others.
In the months following my Wall of Fame submission, I became a fitness instructor and certified personal trainer, I ran my first half marathon in October 2010, and I participated in a figure/bikini competition in May 2011.
In July of 2011, I accepted a new job and moved to Maine. While I am not blaming this or using it as an excuse for my recent struggles, it was a huge change that brought with it a great deal of transition and stress. Combined with the timing of my competition and the strict diet and exercise program that I had been on leading up to this, I once again found myself eating previously "forbidden foods" and turning to food for consolation. I was also making exercise less of a priority. I had lost an additional 10 pounds (for a total of 110) while training for competition, so I didn't at first see it as a major problem. I quickly gained back this 10 pounds, and also went on to gain additional 25.
Realizing that I could not let this continue any further, I recommitted to my health and fitness last December and decided to tackle my goal of running that full 26.2 miles four years before I turn 40. In an effort to give something back and also set myself up for the greatest chance of success, I signed up with Team In Training for the San Diego Rock 'N Roll Marathon on June 3rd, 2012. I would lying to say that I don't have days that I question my decision and doubt my ability to do this, but I have done my best to train and prepare both my mind and my body so that I will be ready. I am also proud to have connected with a group that connects running and other endurance sports with such a good cause. Since I signed up with Team In Training, I have raised almost $3,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. My hope is that I will be able to raise an additional $2,000 before the event so that I can reach my personal goal of raising $5,000. I would donate $10,000 of my own to help find a cure for cancer if I could, but I don't have this to give. What I have been reminded that I do have is a strong and capable body that allows me to run and train with all my heart and rally people around that...not for me, but for all of those who have been touched by this disease. And today, this is what keeps me going. Today, this what kept me going through 15 miles, which is now the longest distance that I have run at one time without stopping and the thing that finally motivated me to share my story.
|Kristen in her first half-marathon|
My journey has had a lot of ups and downs. I've had a rough couple of weeks with both my diet and exercise/training and am glad to have had a good/successful day to share with you all today; however, I know that I need to be proud of all that I've done and share the challenges, as well. That's the part that people don't like to talk about, but it's the part that's real. It's difficult for me to look at pictures from a year ago and realize that I am 25 pounds heavier, but I have remind myself of the pictures from two and three years ago and how far I have come since that time. I am still down 75 pounds from where I started, and I have once again become a runner. No matter the number of "bad" and/or challenging days that I have, I am determined to stay in the game and to make sure that I have at least one more good one. Running is definitely helping with more than just my fitness. Following is my newest affirmation/mantra and metaphor for life that I also repeat to myself on the long days: "Focus on the moment/mile you are in and enjoy the run!"
For too much of my life, I have focused on the "finish" or the "destination." Slowly, I am learning that it is truly about the journey, enjoying the moment, and not rushing things. I may not be where I was or where I want to be, but I know that I can only control what I do in the moment and the very next decision/step in front of me. I will get there!
Kristen, we couldn't agree more - enjoy the journey! We can't wait to hear how you not only reach your fundraising goal, but also triumph in your first full marathon!
Inspired by Kristen? Have your own story of transformation to share? We want to hear from you! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll follow you and support you as one of our fitness revolutionaries. There's no better way to keep yourself accountable!