By Julie H.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had weight issues. I remember standing on the scale as a child weighing 60 pounds and feeling fat. My family dealt with stress by eating, celebrated by eating, overcame boredom by eating. Sound familiar? Not an unusual situation, I know.
I was the maid of honor in my sister’s wedding in 1997. When I was fitted for my dress, the storeowner announced to my sister and her fiancé that I would need a size 22 and extra fabric incase it was too small. A very humiliating experience, to say the least, but not enough for that final weight loss decision. The wedding pictures were enough to embarrass me, the video of me with my 1-week-old niece in 2000 disgusted me, but still, I wasn’t there. I never really thought I looked that big in the mirror but when I saw myself in pictures, it was appalling. Now, don’t get me wrong, I wanted to lose weight. I had always been ready to be more comfortable in my body, in my clothes, in my life, but something was missing.
My daughter was born in August of 2001. I only gained 20 pounds through the pregnancy, of this I was very proud, however, I was 204 pounds when I got pregnant! Nurses always acted surprised by my weight, telling me that I didn’t look like I weighed that much. Perhaps being women, they knew I probably really wanted to hear that. I always knew I would have a hard time keeping up with Sara as she grew but feared admitting it to myself or anybody else for that matter. I suppose I was in denial that there was anything I could really do about it, I convinced myself that “this is just the way I am. I’m a big girl and I’ll never be small”.
It was a Saturday about 3 weeks before my daughter’s first birthday when I received direct marketing material from Weight Watchers in the mail. Free registration, free this, free that…hope. At that moment, a deeper level of ready came to be. Kind of like quitting smoking, I was truly, deeply ready to lose weight. It wasn’t the 4x8 flyer in my hand, it wasn’t the free stuff, actually, I don’t know what it was but regardless, it was the beginning.
I went to my first meeting two days later raring to go weighing 198 pounds. I was motivated and excited. I told myself that if I lost 10 pounds by my friend’s wedding on September 14 that I would buy myself a new outfit. Well, within 4 weeks I had lost 14.2 pounds and found out I was pregnant again!!! This certainly put the weight loss on hold but didn’t hinder the motivation.
Fast forward to May 2003. I gained twice as much weight but weighed about the same, 227 pounds, the day Tyler was born. I was anxious to lose weight. For my birthday that year my husband went to the doctor. When he found out he weighed 190 pounds, standing only 5’3” tall, it threw him into a tailspin. Within 5 months he lost 50 pounds (must be nice to lose so fast!). We had become a weight loss family, except for the petite children we produced.
I worked on my weight loss on my own, paying attention to what I ate and how much. I was successful. I lost my baby weight in 8 weeks and by the time I went back to work in October 2003 I was down to 175. Not all the way to my goal, but making progress.I work for a bank in which there are always snacks or candy around. By the time Christmas rolled around I had gained 6 pounds back. This was not okay and not something I was going to allow to continue. On January 2, 2004 I started following the Weight Watchers program again only this time I didn’t attend the meetings. Again, I was successful. Apparently the decision I made to improve my health and well-being was stronger than my need to eat for reasons other than nutrition. I lost 10 pounds in the first month.
My progress slowed and on March 1st I joined Weight Watchers Online. I started reading message boards, looking at recipes and realizing I wasn’t alone. I got a wild hair that month when my walking wasn’t presenting the type of challenge I was needing. On my lunch break walk one day, I decided maybe it was time I start running. Now, I played soccer in high school but never ran any more than what was required and that was 15 years ago! It just so happened that the same day I saw a message on the fitness message board challenging other members to start a “train to run” program. I checked it out, consulted to my vacationing triathlete sister and went shopping for running shoes.
Three days later it began. It was a 13-week program culminating with a 10K race. I started running for 30 seconds and walking for four and half minutes. Every week the run would increase and the walk decreased by 30 seconds until the 9th week the run intervals started increasing by minutes and the rest being only one or two minutes. I always looked forward to running, looked forward to finishing the run but never really enjoyed the actual running. I did enjoy the challenge, I just convinced myself it hurt. Many days it was very hard to find the motivation. One day I called my sister and said “tell me I won’t melt in the rain, tell me to go do my run, remind me I can do this”, she did - everyday. Many times I chanted to myself “just keep running”. Only once did I not finish the workout. Many times I wondered if I would be doing it if I didn’t have a written schedule to follow. But I did and I’m proud of that. At the end of 13 weeks I was running for an hour straight, no walk breaks. I didn’t run a 10K but I ran a 5K with my sister in 29:14, a time that makes me very proud. She has been an instrumental part in this adventure. One month before my first ever 5K my son turned 1 and I weighed 160 pounds!
For mother’s day this year, I bought myself a mountain bike. I found a WW “Tri-ers” message board online. My husband had been telling me for years to find something I wanted to do and do it. He would take care of the kids so I could have some time for myself. Well, I decided to try triathlon! I bought a training schedule online for $20. I swam (not very efficiently, but making progress), cycled, and ran per my schedule all the while looking for someone to train with.
As I was perusing the results of our local City of Gold Triathlon, I noticed a familiar name. With a short visit with Pam I now had two training partners. She and Kim have been athletic their entire lives and therefore are a step (or two or three) ahead of me but it’s good motivation. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses. Pam’s the swimmer, Kim’s the runner and I’m the cyclist, thanks to my sister’s oh-so-very-fast racing bike! I think we make a good team. We are now in the process of starting a triathlon club in our little town of Oroville in Northern California.
Together we are training for the Luna Bar Women’s Triathlon in Galt, CA on October 3. As my first real race, my primary goal is to finish. My secondary goal is to finish in less than two hours and third to finish in less than one hour 45 minutes.
Today, I weigh 150 pounds with 16% body fat. I still get the “you don’t look like you weigh that much” comments and that’s nice being as my goal is 140 and I’ve been at 150 for four months. My whole family has benefited from my progress. I am setting a good example for my children. My three-year-old Sara wants to run with me when she “gets bigger”. My energy level is higher and I’m able to keep up with the kids. My relationship with my husband is healthier and as a family unit we are happier.
The sport of triathlon has become such a major aspect of my life that for the first time ever I feel passionate about what I’m doing and what I see in the future. I can cover the sprint distances, no question, but there is so much room for improvement and so many opportunities to unwrap. I am amazed at what I’m capable of. Well, not really. I always knew I could do whatever it was that I put my mind…and body…in to, but I hadn’t found the right thing until this year.
I am proud of my accomplishments, I am proud of the way my husband has taken on new duties and responsibilities for my benefit, I am proud of the positive influence I have on so many people in my life.
I’m a 32-year-old mother of two, I’ve lost almost 80 pounds in the 15 months since my son was born and I am a proud to call myself a triathlete.