I've been heavy my entire life. Even in my kindergarten photos, I was chubby. In late high school, I gained more weight. In college, I reached 260 pounds -- I think because I was on my own. I had a driver's license, a job. I could go out to dinner, eat when I wanted. Nobody was watching over me.
Being heavy didn't make me feel bad, though. I was pretty confident. I didn't realize I was as big as I was until I started looking at old photos a few months ago. It was pretty shocking.
About three and a half years ago, I lost 40 pounds. Then I got pregnant with my first child. I lost that pregnancy weight, then got pregnant again. After my second baby was born, I lost all but 10 pounds of that extra weight, so I weighed 230 pounds.
Two things pushed me to start seriously losing weight. First, I was done having kids, so I knew my body wouldn't be going through any more major changes. And second, my father had a heart attack at age 54, as had my grandfather. I knew I needed to take better care of myself.
My first step was to start the Couch to 5K program, which helps sedentary people work up to running a 5K race in just 9 weeks. I always thought runners were so cool, but to be one seemed like an impossible goal. A friend and I decided to try it together.
I had to start inside on a treadmill because I was too embarrassed to be outside. I cried that first day because I could only run for three 1-minute periods -- and you're supposed to do it eight times.
Eventually I worked through it, and we ran a 5K last October. Now I can run for more than an hour at a time. I'm hoping to train for a 10K soon, maybe even a half marathon some day.
Learning to Eat Healthily
Of course, diet is important, too. In the beginning, I didn't change what I was eating. I just changed how much I was eating. I didn't want to give up bad stuff.
Then I got tired of being hungry all the time, so I started making healthier choices. I started cooking more, rather than ordering in. I also learned about portion sizes and calories.
I have four children: a 16-year-old stepdaughter, a 10-year-old stepson, plus two sons, 3 and 1. I operate a day care in my home, and I sell shirts for little boys on the side. Running is my alone time. I'm outside. I'm getting fresh air. I'm not getting interrupted. I use it for my prayer time.
Right now I weigh 159 pounds, so I've lost 71 pounds since I set my mind to losing weight. A lot of people ask, "What's your secret?" like there's a pill or a program or a trick of some kind.
But the truth is I did it on my own, with a lot of hard work and some online fitness tools. I know I've been good to myself, and I'm being a good role model to my children. That's what counts.
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