I went through childhood as a chubby, inactive kid, and turned into a yo-yo dieting teenager and young adult. After my two children were born, in the haze and exhaustion of being a new parent, I stopped even caring about my weight and ate to cope with the stress. I have always struggled with anxiety and have had periods of depression. Unfortunately, the demands of motherhood and realities of being a military spouse made things so much worse for me in those areas.
At times, I was so anxious and overwhelmed I couldn’t leave the house. Because I was eating a lot of sugar and fast food to calm myself, naturally I saw the scale creeping up steadily. I would have periods of time where I would attempt to lose the weight, but would always give up quickly, and I refused to exercise. At 5’4”, my highest weight was 239 pounds. I was always in pain, starting from the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning. My feet were always cracked and bleeding from the stress of the extra weight.
I truly wanted to get down to a healthy weight but was really struggling—partly from my anxiety issues, but also from my complete hatred of physical activity. My turning point came when I realized my habits were starting to affect my kids. I asked my daughter what she remembered most about a particularly stressful period of time in our lives, and she told me she remembered me constantly eating M&M’s and yelling at them. That was it for me – I couldn’t go on this way any longer.
Did I mention that I hated exercise in all forms? I decided that I just needed to get over it. I had heard about the Couch to 5K plan and was intrigued. I tried to put it out of my mind because I hated running – right? I was still unsure, but my wonderfully supportive husband encouraged me to try and said I could do it. As much as it irritates me when he’s right, he was. I stood out there in the park on a freezing day—January 12, 2015 to be exact. I told myself that I just had to run for 1 minute and then I could walk. It was very tough, but I did it. And I did it again the next day…and the next. Yes, I was losing weight, but something else was happening too—I was falling in love with running.
After finishing Couch to 5K, I eagerly dove into bigger challenges. I completed a 5k to 10k program, and then went on to a half marathon training plan. I finished my first half marathon in October 2015 with a time of 2:02:58. Through the training process, I did lose the rest of the weight. I am now a healthy and fit 136 pounds.
People frequently ask me why I run, and there is no quick and easy answer for that. I started running as a way to deal with my weight, but it’s not really about that anymore. I run so I can be free of the agony of a body constantly at war with itself, and of a mind that was suffering debilitating anxiety. When I run, I am free. When my feet run along a trail and my breathing is in a rhythm, I feel I can do anything. I use that time to work out all of the things that are troubling me. Sometimes I find a solution to my problems, sometimes I don’t, and most often I realize that an issue wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought. I always walk away from a run a better version of myself than I was before I started. I am a better wife, mother, and person when I am able to deal with situations calmly and objectively, when I am not living my life from under a cloud of fear. I have found peace and freedom through running. I am eagerly looking forward to completing my first marathon in Paris, France on April 3, 2016.