Shelley gave up overeating and re-discovered her passion for running.

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Shelley reclaimed her life by trading bad eating habits with a good running schedule.

I am a runner, daughter, and determined, dedicated, driven person who has battled the cycle of addiction and emotional eating over the last 20 years. The latter flared up for me in September 2012, when I had to overcome the setback and challenge of undergoing Achilles tendon surgery.  The recovery period was long, and there were many times where I feared my running days were behind me. Running was an activity I always enjoyed since childhood. I always had a passion for it, and it is and was an activity that not only helps me cope with stress and anxiety, but it also gave me a sense of balance and control through my addictions.

Since I couldn’t turn to running during this recovery period, I turned to food. It was all I knew at the time; it gave me comfort when I felt sad, alone, mad or bored. I knew I never wanted to go back to drugs and alcohol, and food seemed harmless. During this period of recovery and overeating, I gained a lot of weight—the most ever in my lifetime. At 5 foot 3 inches, I was pushing 200 pounds. I had high cholesterol, high blood pressure and approached pre-diabetic health levels. I had to take control of my health, so I made an appointment with a dietician in January 2014—more than a year after my surgery—and started my comeback to better health and happiness.

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Prior to contacting the dietician, I had registered for a 5K in December 2013 that was scheduled for May 2014. It would keep me motivated, I told myself. I continued to enter 5K and 10K road races to stay on track with my fitness. I started to keep track of the daily foods I ate, and the workouts remained consistent week after week. A good friend, who is a psychologist and personal trainer, held me accountable everyday via email from miles away. I realized this routine was the solution to transform myself, reclaim my well-being, be in the best shape of my life—in my 40s!

From January 2014 to November 2014, I lost more than 50 pounds, and I no longer need medication for cholesterol. But one of my greatest accomplishments during my journey to a healthier lifestyle was when my friend and I completed a half marathon together in 2:25 in Ft. Lauderdale, Fl in November 2014. Today, I am currently registered for a quarter marathon and Spartan Sprint in May 2015.  I also enjoy taking a boot camp class once a week and also taking part in strength training classes.  For those who have stories like mine, I want them to know that they can break their bad habits. When life feels too big, there are people and resources available to help even when you can’t—and don’t want to—see it at the time. Stick with it, and you will begin to live the life you want.

Shelley’s tips for sticking with it:

1. Find a friend to hold you accountable and has similar goals when it comes to losing weight and exercising.
2. Sign up for a race!
3. Set small, attainable goals along the way. My first goal after my surgery was just to finish the 5K in my goal time, then goals after that first race were to continue improving on that time.