I've spent my entire life overweight, if not obese.  In high school I topped out at 280, on a petite framed girl at a mere 5'2" height... that's a tremendous amount of weight on these poor bones.  The summer after my senior year, I decided to change, I walked for hours a day and limited my calories to 1200 a day.  I lost 100 lbs the summer of 2003 alone.  I then moved on to college and lost another 20-30 lbs with careful eating and just walking across campus to my different classes, etc.  At this point in my life, I was at the smallest I'd been in quite some time and I grew complacent.  There were too many other concerns involved with college life to worry about weight loss.  I stayed between 155 and 170 lbs until 2008.  In 2008, I had a series of events that led to a rampage of emotional eating.  I quit partying, quit smoking, quit even the occasional glass of wine.  All I had left was food.  Then I took in my three younger siblings and my boyfriend's son came to live with us.  So I went from a single, independent, carefree young woman to a full-time mom of four.  I then was forced to get a second job.  At this point I'm cooking macaroni and cheese, Hamburger Helper, Ramen, canned food, fast food.  Anything that was cheap and easy to feed a family of six.  Anything that I could grab on the go between jobs. Anything that I could shove in my mouth that would temporarily ease the tremendous amount of stress I was under and give me momentary pleasure.

In 2010, I realized I was incredibly unhappy with the way my life was and the way I was living it and I was doing nothing to change it.  I had tried anti-depressants from my doctor and that actually made things worse for me.  I was in a spiral of being depressed and angry and many times I would direct my anger at the people around me.  (Although in my defense, 2 teenagers and 2 pre-teens are quite the handful).  We had power struggles in the home, I felt like no one respected me and that I was paddling upstream.  It was a horrible time of my life and I have to say there are few times that I've ever felt so alone.  All the work I had done at the end of high school had pretty much been lost and I was left a miserable fat blob with nothing to look forward to. I finally saw a picture of myself and realized exactly how much weight I had gained and why it was so tedious climbing up and down stairs. And why basically doing anything felt overwhelming.  I felt like there was no escape and the more I thought about trying to change, the more difficult it became to even conceive the idea of a better life with better health.  I felt trapped.

In January of 2010, I had a friend whom was planning getting lap band surgery and I thought "Hey, that sounds like something that could work for me!"  So I went to several seminars, got really excited, pumped myself up, dreamed of not being fat anymore and then I got to financing.  This part made me nervous, but I had found a weight loss surgeon whom I particularly liked that reassured me we'd find a way to make my insurance cover part of it.  He said that with a recommendation, his documentation and reports of prior weight loss attempts that we could make a case for it.  The first step was to lose 10% of my body weight.  So on February 15, 2010 I started eating better and I started walking.  By March 15th, one month later I had lost 15 pounds.  I kept going until suddenly I'd lost more than the 10% required to begin the process of weight loss surgery.  I had somewhat forgotten the lap band surgery and every time I thought of it, I remembered the repercussions that came with the surgery.  I LOVE to eat.  I knew I did not want to give up so many of my favorite foods and I started thinking to myself "If I can lose this much with diet and exercise, then maybe I can go all the way."  I started remembering all my tricks and methods from losing the weight before and I quickly got into my niche.  I found an awesome website called where I tracked my food and exercise.  I got a membership at the YMCA for myself and all the kids and started trying new exercises.  I started using the elliptical, the first time I got on one I only lasted about 8 minutes.  The next time I lasted 55 minutes.  I tried Yoga, even started trying the Couch to 5k program.  By May (or maybe June) I had started going to Zumba and loved it!  The amount of courage it took me to enter that first Zumba class is immeasurable.  With being overweight came a huge sense of insecurity and fear of crowds.  But I overcame it. Suddenly I was on a roll and all the paperwork I had from the different weight loss surgery seminars had been shoved into a drawer somewhere.  I no longer even considered that an option.  The summer of 2010, I entered a Subway Weight Loss Challenge to which the winners would be announced at the Midnight Streak 5k.  Since I was attempting (struggling horribly through) the Couch to 5k program, I considered signing up for this as my first 5k.   Regrettably I chickened out, the running was not going as well I would have liked and I started doubting whether I wanted to pursue running at all or not.  I did, however, win 3rd place for body fat percentage loss.
I would love to get an after picture with Jared and the mayor!

I continued on my journey and the weight loss started slowing down.  Somewhere between the end of May 2011 or beginning of June 2011, I decided to try running again.  This time all the hard work on the elliptical paid off and I started running short distances immediately.  It was tough, but I knew I could do it.  I decided to sign up for my first 5k, and what better way to mark an anniversary than to sign up for the Midnight Streak?

Since then I have ran a total of three 5ks, one Warrior Dash, one half marathon and a 25k.  I have The Color Run coming up on June 23, 2012 and I plan on doing the Midnight Streak again in August.  I just signed up for my first marathon in November for which I'm incredibly psyched.  It's hard to believe that only a little over two years ago I was twice my size and could hardly manage getting up the stairs.  Now running is just a part of who I am; do not mistake me, many days I still have to force myself out the door before I realize that yes, I did really want to go for a run.  I just have to remind myself of why I run and why I enjoy it so much.  I run for freedom, peace of mind, size 2 jeans, cheat days...  I run to control my depression and anxiety issues.  I run to breathe.  I truly run for life.  I can't imagine not being a runner now.

I still receive mail to this day from different weight loss surgery offices I had visited.  It always makes me smile to see because I am instantly reminded of how far I have come.

It's been two years and four months since I started this journey and I have traveled a great distance.  I have lost more than half my body weight.  I have become an athlete.  I instruct Zumba four times a week.  I have deemed myself worthy.  I've regained my pride. Now I'm focusing on bettering myself in all aspects of my life.  Now when I see something in my life that I'm not happy with, instead of wallowing in despair, I look at how to fix it.  How am I going to make my life better?  It takes work and dedication, but it is by no means impossible.  In fact, it's quite possible, see:

****By no means do I discount the effectiveness of weight loss surgery, nor do I think poorly of people that choose that option, it just isn't for me.  I have a friend that has the exact same struggles that I do, encounters the same predicaments and fears, the only difference is that he has a little band around his stomach.