Women Who Move: Jolene Cannady

"Pushing through the mental challenge of running showed me how strong I really am." - Jolene Cannady

AGE: 37

My weight-loss wakeup call was sparked by tragedy. In 2007, my father could no longer overcome his battle with cancer and he passed away. All of a sudden, I saw myself in him. I was 5-foot-4 and 215 pounds. Even though I was only 32 years old, my blood pressure was through the roof, and my battle with depression had already pushed me into thoughts and actions of suicide three times in my life. I knew I needed to get healthy—both mentally and physically.

Even though I was far from fit, I made a resolution to finish a half marathon, hoping that this goal would help me turn my life around.

I started working out in a gym, and soon began to run outdoors. I ran away from feelings of loneliness and helplessness. I felt confident and exhilarated—emotions I had not experienced in a very long time.

I lost a few pounds training for my half. Then on race day, a whole new me took over. I had made it to my first milestone in my weight-loss journey, and I realized I could keep going and use running as a tool to make a difference.

I had a wonderful support team in my husband and friends—but at the end of the day, only I could move my body. Pushing through the mental challenge of running showed me how strong I really am. I would hear a voice saying, I can’t do this, but kept moving instead. Over time, this voice became less loud.

Since the first day I went the gym, I have lost a total of 99 pounds. More importantly, I got my life back. My depression is a part of my DNA, but through running I have been able to manage and control it. I never felt pretty before I started to run. Now, I know I am healthy, strong and beautiful.