Jessica's couch to 5K to half marathon story – be motivated!

first-5k
My first 5k – Oct, 2010

In August 2010 I decided to change my life. Well, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic. I knew I didn’t like how I looked, how I felt or the example I was setting for my kids. I knew I wanted to lose weight, but the task seemed impossible. Starting off at 218 pounds (E gads! I’ve admitted it!) I wanted to lose 48 pounds and get down to 170 pounds (about where I was when I got married 6 years before and felt better about myself). Weight has always been something I struggled with though, so the battle ahead was daunting.

As a kid I was always chubby and considered myself fat as a teen. (Side note, looking back now I don’t consider myself fat then. Chubby yes… Boy, gaining a bunch more weight certainly gives perspective.) During my teen years I did a lot of dieting and trying to lose weight. I really had no idea what I was doing and just wanted an easy way out. I was never athletic and hated PE with a passion. Some days I’d nearly be sick over the anxiety of PE class. My motto was “I run for fear, not for fun.” I also had asthma and used that excuse to the fullest extent (I also didn’t understand that having asthma didn’t mean I couldn’t do anything.) Right after high school and into college, I hovered around 175-185 if I remember correctly. I met my husband during the summer after high school and dated for three years. We were married in 2004 and after exercising before the wedding I weighed 175.

I maintained that weight until the fall of 2006, when I started a one year Master’s program. This program really was insane. It crammed two years of classes, internship and thesis into a 9 month period. I quickly learned to eat to

Me and my husband - Oct, 2010
Me and my husband – Oct, 2010

survive during that time. I needed to be awake longer, survive on less sleep and eat what was easy and quick. This meant lots of sugar, soda and fast food. I only had time to peel a wrapper and eat it. The funny thing is that now if I want more energy and to think better I’d eat healthy, because eating poorly makes me feel sluggish and icky. I gained 10 pounds during those 9 months. I justified eating this way because of needing to survive the program, and I would stop eating this way when it was done. I didn’t. I kept eating this way. Easy and quick was in fact easy and quick and tasty. Even now from time to time, when I’m feeling tired and need a pick-me-up, I can catch myself thinking at first that I should get something sweet or a soda. I made myself think that I was eating differently after graduation, but my calorie counts still stayed high and the quantities were big.

By the time 2009 rolled around I was 215 pounds. In April 2009 I lost 15 pounds, but after a car accident in December 2009 I gained that weight back plus three pounds. The car accident left me with back problems. I couldn’t do much of anything. No picking up the kids, bending over, moving much…sitting and standing both hurt a lot, so exercise was off the map. My life became more sedentary, but my eating habits stayed the same.

Thankfully, after a lot of prayer and physical therapy, I slowly became better, but I really wasn’t happy with the way I looked. I didn’t want this to be my example to my children, and I hated being in photos. I knew I would probably feel better if I lost weight too (and boy was that an understatement).

recent-weight-lossOne year ago, in August 2010, I didn’t think I’d be able to lose so much weight. In fact I felt it was next to impossible, but I started off striving for one pound, then two, then three… and so on. Now I’m down 42.5 pounds, and weigh 175.5 pounds. The funny thing is that I now wear a size 10, and the last time I weighed this I wore a size 12. Gaining muscle & losing fat makes a difference. Five and a half pounds to go until I reach my first goal weight!

I started off using two months of Nutrisystem. I like Nutrisystem, because it uses real food, tastes good and gave me an outline for how I needed to eat. After that I mimicked the plan’s calorie count, food group balancing and other nutrients. The rest is history. I started off with 1600 calories a day and am now down to about 1500 calories a day (with doctor’s approval of course) — as I’ve lost weight I’ve needed less/day to keep up the same weight loss/week. If you have an iPhone, you have to use the LoseIt app! I wouldn’t have been able to do it with out that app!

I also started running in September 2010. I hated running. Remember, my motto for running was “I run for fear, not for fun.” But on a fateful girls’ night out my friend (who has lost a lot of weight herself) encouraged me to do a 5K and told me about Couch to 5K. I looked up the program and it seemed reasonable. It would give me a good training plan, and I’d lose weight along the way.

On October 30th I did my first 5K after only 5 weeks of training. I thought I was going to die, but I did it! On Thanksgiving, two days after my Papa died, I did my second 5K after finishing 9 weeks of training. God and running got me through my Papa’s illness and death. After finishing the 5K training program my friends encouraged me to move onto a 10K. Why not? This was getting addicting and that was only twice the 5K. Of course there was Bridge to 10K to help, and I loved it as much as the first program! Sometime after my first 5K, a friend coerced me into doing a half-marathon. On Superbowl Sunday of this year I did my first 10K, and in March I did a half-marathon. In May I ran my second 10K.

I’m currently training for my second half-marathon on October 2nd. I have gone from a person who dreads running to someone who gets restless if I go a couple days without running. In April I also had the opportunity to run a 5K with a friend who ran her first 5K. I’m still slower than I’d like to be, but I’ve come a long, long ways from the girl who couldn’t even run a minute. My first mile time was over 18 minutes and my most recent personal record was 10:10. I get so excited to see my progress and how far I’ve come.

During my journey, I’ve also grown deeper relationships with my friends. A group of us would meet every weekend to run, jog or walk at whatever pace we were at and however far we were going. We bonded so much during this time and cheered each other on. It was helpful knowing that there were people waiting to meet, so I couldn’t bail, and who understood what I was going through too. My dear friend and I ran alongside each other in the 10K and half-marathon pushing each other on when the other needed encouragement.

Running has also deepened my relationship with God. It has taught me another side of Him. It has taught me about endurance in Him, trusting Him and caring for the body He’s given me. There have been many, many runs where each step was done in prayer. He taught me that He will provide me strength and sustain me. He taught me that He knows what is ahead and has a plan for me. These lessons learned while running have overflowed into other areas of my life as well. Jeremiah 29:11 ~ “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

recent-race-progressI had no idea how many areas of my life would change. I didn’t know I would be happier and focus better. I didn’t know my friendships would deepen. I certainly didn’t know that I would inspire others. I didn’t do this to inspire others. I started off selfishly to change myself. Thankfully God has used my selfish intentions and is using my journey to inspire others. I couldn’t have done any of this without God, my friends, my husband and my kids. I’m proud that I’m setting a good example for my children, especially my daughter. I hope and pray that my kids won’t struggle with weight and food the way I have.

At the end of last August, I started trying a yoga dvd, bought a $50 treadmill and took my first step. Then there was that fateful girls’ night out when a friend told me about Couch to 5K and said she’d run a 5K with me. And I said “Why not?” That seemed like it would be a good goal. I had no idea that moment was really the start of three 5K’s, two 10K’s, a half marathon, training for another half marathon, a blog and motivating others. I’ve lost 42.5 pounds, gained a ton of self confidence, deepened friendships and overhauled my life. Now I am the example I want to be to my kids. In fact recently my kids were talking about how they’re growing and getting bigger, when my daughter piped up, “Mommy, you’re shrinking!” Why yes I am.

~ Jessica
OnTheRunMama.tumblr.com

Originally posted 2011-09-06 07:12:00.

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