Wednesday, December 27, 2006

My Journey

The shortest version of how I came to running is: I had been walking a bit, purely for exercise, and thought to myself "I wonder if I could run?"

Obviously, by looking at these photos, there is FAR more to it than that. Here is the not-so-short version (but I'll still try to stick to the highlights).

From puberty to age 27, I was overweight to obese (and gradually so). The photo on top was taken in 2001. I was 27 and had just bought my first home. A friend was visiting from out-of-state and snapped this photo. I ended up not seeing it until I looked pretty much like I do today (see next two photos). Nonetheless, it serves as a HUGE reminder of where I've been and where I do not want to return.

So, just a few months before my 28th birthday I joined Weight Watchers with a coworker (also a wonderful friend). Long story short: with zero exercise I had lost over 30 pounds. Once I hit that plateau, it became apparent that I must start exercising. That's when my same friend and I joined Curves and went to work out at lunchtime. I decided to implement a one mile walk to my routine, also. That was four laps around my hilly neighborhood. I thought I was going to croak! I much preferred the air conditioned gym. Needless to say, the exercise prompted the weight loss to again be successful.

I was about to turn 29 and had just discovered that I was capable of running. A different coworker asked me if I'd like to start running after work. I was thankful for the opportunity. After about 2-3 months of that I ran my first 5K. I set my PR (personal record) of 31:12. Unlike my friend Chris ( who considers her "runner" status to have begun the second she crossed her first 5K finish line, I still didn't feel like a runner. I felt like a girl who completed a 5K race.

The cold weather hit, so I retreated to a new gym so I could use the treadmill. That was NOT fun... so I kind of slacked on the running for a few months, until spring came. As soon as I could stand to be in the weather (says the girl who now runs in 20 degrees) I started running after work. I did it purely for exercise. I still didn't consider myself to be "hooked."

That spring I met my husband. We ran together a bit. Fast forward to the next spring: I got married. And fat. My sweet husband will argue that point to the death... but I know it's true. Since meeting him I had put on, at the worst point, about 14 pounds in little more than a year. That was last spring. I had completed a half marathon in that "status," but I didn't feel very good about it. When the harsh realization came that I might as well give away my "skinny / single clothes," I decided to take action. I did not want to be the stereotypical "plump married woman who used to me much thinner." (Sorry if it sounds harsh, but it's how I felt.) After listening to a zillion podcasts, one stuck out to me, and I have been a participant ever since: With the help of the fabulous, super-motivational Sandra Ahten, I have steadily lost ever since late last summer.

As of today I am approximately 45 pounds lighter (see photos at left) than the photo up top. Finding running has been key in my life. Otherwise, as I joke with my friends, it's impossible for me to be "married AND thin." Ha! I hope I'm over that, but I know for sure that I am on a journey that will never end. Needless to say, I now feel like a runner and consider myself to be a runner. It took me a long time to say "I'm a runner," even though I have been running now for over three years.

My husband is extremely supportive of my passion for running, and for that I am grateful. He has noted that I am "happiest" when I'm running, preparing for running, talking about running, or have just finished running. Notice a theme?!?

I have many motivational factors to keep me running and trying to be as healthy as possible. On the positive side, I want to be a mom one day, and I want it to be as easy on my body as can be (i.e. not to develop gestational diabetes, etc.) That is definitely a positive reason to stay on top of my health. I want to set a good example for my children. As for negative motivators, I have been witness to health problems in both my family and my husband's family, and I do not want to follow suit. I have seen suffering made possible by poor health choices. I want to be a hip grandma that can keep up with my grandchildren!

I hope my tell-all gives some insight as to the author of this blog! I welcome all comments and questions. And thanks for listening!


Katie said...

What an inspirational journey!

I knew you 45lbs ago and I always thought you were wonderful and never even considered you to be chubby -- now you're so slim! Keep on running!

Thanks for taking part in the holiday challenge with me, I really need your help because you're so positive and upbeat and I am feeling miserable!

Way to go, PIC

jeanne said...

fantastic story! and i love your goal of being the hip grandma. I'll definitely check out that podcast. nice work!

MarathonChris said...

Great story, Susan, and what a journey! Thanks for sharing it. I am with you - I want to run with my kids and even my grand kids someday!

As Adam Tinkoff might say, Keep it burning!! :-)

Dawn T said...

I am so glad that you found your passion for running! I look at that picture of you "before" and it's dificult to remember that Susan. I guess I just always picture you as the slim, healthy, great friend that you are.. :) Keep up the good work. You are so inspiring!

Susan K. said...

It's funny how when we "meet" somebody through one medium we form our own picture of them in our minds. Susan I mainly know you through your voice (which I think you have the sweetest lil' southern accent by the way), and now seeing your pictures here (although I've seen your dump run picture and the other picture you posted of you running)...all I can say is--wow!

Thank you for sharing all this. You look great! And I have to say, I have thought of you as a runner since I met you!

And I wonder--when you found Sandra's podcasts were they the group sessions or was it just her motivational ones?

CewTwo said...

I met Susan on a podcast.

She was as inspiring to me as the podcasts that I was listening to and my own NEED to change my life. Susan is a motivator for me.

I knew that I was overweight. I had hypertension and was afraid of much more. A friend drove me to get a physical. I went a different direction and chose a new Doctor.

The physical was interesting and so were the blood tests. I also was pre-diabetic and had very high cholesterol (275). I was 265 pounds.

I was given a diet and was told to exercise. When I stated that I was walking, I was told to jog and when it felt right, I was told to run.

I did. I also endeavored to eat healthier and to eat within my diet caloric intake of 1800 calories per day.

I faced a treadmill. I ran that treadmill into the ground. How does a person do a treadmill? Podcasts got me through it.

I replaced that first treadmill after I ran it into the ground. The new treadmill already has 1240 miles on it.

I have lower cholesterol (115). I am no longer pre-diabetic. My heart is as strong as ever. I weigh 195 lbs now. I still run 5 miles each and every day.

Susan? It is people like yourself that inspire people like me.

Lateefah said...

I really would like to start running, you and I are the same age and I love that you have slimmed down so much. Do you have any tips on how I should begin?