She's lost nearly 200 pounds!

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  1. That was the number on the scale that stood in the way of me living a healthy and fulfilling life.

I struggled with being overweight my entire life and tried every diet known to man. In 2009, I developed Type 2 diabetes and had already been diagnosed with hypertension. Self-hatred and depression plagued me. How I could do this to myself?

In 2009, I had to see three different specialists—an endocrinologist, cardiologist and a pulmonary specialist, along with my primary care physician. I was in denial about my chronic illnesses. Being overweight, diabetic, hypertensive and depressed was a dangerous game to play, and I felt I was losing out on life. I started my weight loss and fitness journey in 2010 after being sick and tired of being sick and tired. It was my goal to become healthy, fit and medication-free by the time I turned 40 in December 2013. “Fit by Forty!” became my new mantra.

I exercised and walked daily, but often wondered if I could become a runner. One day, I decided to give it a try. I struggled and wanted to quit many times, but with each run I found a new appreciation of nature, life, as well as the freedom and love it gave me.

I have lost 177 pounds, been medication-free for more than three years, reversed my diabetes, no longer have hypertension, and went from a size 32 to a size 6-8. Best of all, I am mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically free.

After I hit my weight goal, I developed a new mantra of “50 by 50,” which is to complete 50 half marathons in all 50 states before I turn 50. So far, I have completed 11 5Ks, a 10K, 15K, 12 half marathons and am nine states in towards my 50 by 50 goal. I’m currently training for my first marathon (December 2016).

Read about all eight of our cover runner finalists and vote for your favorite story by Oct. 17! The winner will grace our Jan/Feb 2017 cover.