It was the spring of 2001. I was unhealthy and very overweight, just like I had been for most of life. I was also 23 years old, just out of college and figuring out what I wanted in my life.
I knew I “wanted it all”: the successful career, husband, two kids, and of course, a dog or two. I also knew that I was not going to have any of that at my current weight. I had no idea what my current weight was, nor did I care to find out.
I needed help. I had no idea where or how to start to lose weight or get healthy. Quite frankly, the thought of losing weight was very daunting and it scared me to death. What if I failed and couldn’t do it? I was scared of the unknown but mostly I was afraid to fail. However, I knew I needed to change. I did not want to die young.
A few days later I called my primary care physician’s office and made an appointment for a physical. At my appointment I learned that my weight was up to 330 pounds. I was ashamed, embarrassed and felt like a failure, a big fat one. I explained to my doctor that I wanted to get healthy and I did not know what to do. She referred me to a nutritionist and to endocrinologist. She suspected that I may have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and I needed the endocrinologist to make the diagnosis. She explained that the nutritionist would teach me how to eat right.
When I met with the endocrinologist he explained that he wanted to test me for PCOS. He took my blood and told me to come back in a month. In the meantime I met my nutritionist, Ellie. She explained simply, having PCOS means being insulin resistant. I learned that my body processes food differently which actually explained a ton. I never really had eaten horribly; I had always eaten a lot of vegetables and fruits. But I was also eating a lot of “white things”, potatoes, pasta, bagels, white bread, etc. If I was insulin resistant my body was not breaking down and metabolizing the food I was eating as it should. This was causing a feeling of hunger when in fact I was not hungry, leading to overeating and weight gain.
At first Ellie had a relatively simple plan for me to follow. She wanted me to increase my fruits and vegetables and come back in 4 weeks. That seemed easy enough.
During those 4 weeks I met with the endocrinologist again and was told that I had a mild case of PCOS. He gave me a prescription to help regulate my hormones/metabolism and he said losing weight and keeping my weight at a healthy level would be the best thing I could do to manage my PCOS.
Next up was my second appointment with Ellie. In the first 4 weeks I had lost 10 pounds just by eating more fruits and vegetables. I was excited to see what the coming months would bring. It was during this second appointment with her that she talked to me about exercise. She said that I would reach my goal quicker if I got moving. She made a few recommendations and they all revolved around things I already liked doing. She suggested taking the dogs for a walk every other day or trying a workout DVD that I could do at home. I started with just walking. I figured it would be good for the dogs and myself to walk every day. Once I got comfortable walking I added a DVD. I met with Ellie every 4 weeks or so and most of the time I was down 8-10 pounds. We would talk about different healthy foods I could try and meal ideas so I could stay on the right track while keeping some variety in my diet.
Over time I began to really believe in myself and really believe that I could lose the weight and be healthy. The mountain was getting smaller and smaller with every trip to her office.
Before I knew it I was down 50 pounds, then 96 pounds. I was smaller than I had ever been and only had about 30 more pounds to loose before reaching my goal. Not only was I preparing healthy meals and eating healthy foods I went from walking to running.
It took about 2 years of that routine for me to lose 128 pounds. Ellie taught me what I needed to know, but I implemented the changes and was dedicated to the plan.
In the summer of 2003 I started running as a way to keep the weight off and maybe even lose more. I also found running to be very therapeutic and mind-clearing. My sister-in-law Beth suggested that I come for a visit (I was living in Upstate New York and my brother and Beth lived in Georgia) and run a half marathon with her. The thought of running a half marathon was daunting. What if I hated it? What if I failed and just could not cross that finish line? After some serious thinking I registered for the race, which was at the end of October. This was my very first race, and it became the first of many races. The race was by far one of the hardest things I have ever done. I trained, but not like I should have. What mattered most was that I finished and I was so proud of myself. That moment of crossing the finish line for the very first time will never leave me. The sense of accomplishment was out of this world.
Due to life events I moved to the Atlanta GA (close to my brother and his family) area in December of 2004. I continued to run races and to feel the runners high.
In early part of 2007 I decided to sign up for the Iron Girl sprint distance triathlon on June 17, another VERY daunting goal. What if I hated it?? What if I failed and couldn’t cross that finish line?
Well, I crossed that finish line and again the feeling of accomplishment was out of this world.
Since my first half marathon in 2004, I have completed 6 half marathons, 1 full marathon, multiple 5ks and multiple 10k’s, 9 sprint triathlons, 1 Olympic distance triathlon and 1 half ironman triathlon.
When I signed up for the half ironman I had those same questions with my first half marathon and first sprint distance triathlon. What if I hated it? What if I failed and I just could not cross that finish line? Well, just like with the others, I crossed that finish line, too. My goal was two-fold, to cross the finish line and the have fun. Both goals were achieved in such a way that I could not have asked for a more perfect race.
The Half Ironman was in Augusta GA and was by far the farthest distance in one day I have ever done. Training was hard and long, but it was all worth it. The swim distance was 1.2 miles in the Savannah River. It’s known for its strong current and I am positive the current helped me. My swim time was 38:08 and as I went into the transition area all I wanted was the wet suit strippers to help peel mine off. I ended up yelling “I love strippers” as I was running toward my bike. I took my time getting ready for the 56 mile bike ride. My T1 time was 8:57 and included a potty break. I headed out to start the bike feeling strong and happy. The course was marked every 5 miles and by mile 10 we crossed into Aiken SC. The course was beautiful and included some rolling hills. Before I knew it I was seeing the 40 mile marker and was just in shock that I was almost done with bike portion. I met so many people on the bike course, even made a new friend who lives near me. After three hours and ten minutes, I was done riding 56 miles. Normally it takes a mile or so to find your legs after the run starts, but not that day. I was so happy about that. I told myself to run to mile 6 and I could walk after that if I needed to. I watched the mile markers pass one mile at a time and I quickly made it to mile 6. I looked at my watch and thought if I keep running I can probably finish in just over 6 hours. I was walking some in mile 10 and decided to run as much as possible from mile 11 to the finish. I ran mile 11 and came up on the 12 mile mark. I picked up my pace just a little and could hear the crowd near the finish line. The crowd was becoming more and more electric the closer and closer I got. I turned the final corner of the race and high fived with 2 men that had finished the race already. They told me I was almost there, I looked up, saw the finish line and the famous Ironman clock. I saw 5 people in front of me and I gave it all I had. I passed all of those people and crossed that finish line stronger than I ever thought possible. Hearing the announcer say my name was incredible.
It has been over 12 years since starting my journey and it’s been quite a ride. About a year ago I decided to clean up my diet again. I changed to eating clean, good healthy fats and plenty of fruits and vegetables. In making these changes I have lost an additional 25 pounds and I am the healthiest I have ever been.
Getting healthy and staying that way has been HARD, extremely incredibly HARD. It is normally a daily struggle when it comes to what I eat. Most of the time I take it meal by meal. The biggest thing that helps is pre-planning. I plan my families dinners a week in advance and base my grocery list off it. I also make a big salad every day for lunch. I also log my food and work outs everyday in My Fitness Pal. I helps me stay on track and keep the weight off.
A lot of people ask me how I lost all the weight and how I keep it off. I tell them that I learned how to eat right for my body, thanks in part to a fantastic nutritionist and my hard work. I explain I continue to eat right and work out.
People also ask me why I train so hard and why I do all these races. My answer, because deep down the old unhealthy girl I used to be who always said how ugly I was and how stupid I was for letting my weight get out of control and who said I couldn’t do anything still rears her ugly head. Doing long distance races is how I shut her up. I hope to totally “outrun” her one day.