I had something kind of phenomenal happen today. I renewed my driver’s license. That doesn’t sound like much of a big deal to most people, but for someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight, like I have, it really is! I don’t think the weight on my driver’s license was honest for most of my adult life. In general, I pride myself on my integrity and honesty — but every time I was forced to reveal a number on that registration, I wimped out and wrote the number I was “SURE” would be my real number at some point during the four years I’d have the license. My picture, of course, revealed a different story. I was overweight. The license I turned in today listed my weight as :147 lbs. The truth is, I was closer to 165 when that photo was taken four years ago, and just a few months prior to that photo, I’d reached my peak weight of all-time when I was pregnant with my fifth child – nearly 200 lbs!! On my 5 foot 3 frame, that’s a lot of weight!
For years, I sadly accepted that it was just my fate in life to be overweight. I figured, as a Mom of five, it was inevitable. I considered thinner Mom friends, “freaks of nature” and never imagined that one day, I would be one of them. But, the most amazing thing happened in May of 2008. I got tired of hating my body! I’d been thin growing up, graduating high school at about 115 lbs and getting married at age 25 at nearly the same weight. Back then, I assumed I’d always be slender. Pregnancy after pregnancy and the 40 or so lbs I gained with each of my five children changed that fairly rapidly over the course of the 7 years I had my babies. I’d lose some of the weight after each birth, but hang onto 10-15 lbs each time, so it was no surprise in late March of 2007 when I was heavily pregnant with my last baby that I looked like this:
In May of 2008, my youngest child was a year old and I realized that I wasn’t happy with my body or my life. I wanted something better for myself! I was 35 years old and realized that I was halfway to 70 years old and didn’t want the second half of my life to be exactly the way I was currently living: overweight, unhappy and miserable. So, for Mother’s Day in 2008, I bought myself a pair of running shoes, printed out the Couch to 5K beginner running program and decided that I would run a marathon by the time I was 40, like my own Mom had done when she was 40 (My own Mom, by the way, was a very good example of fitness and loved running for much of my growing up years.)
It wasn’t easy! I didn’t count calories or pay attention to portion sizes when I started out, since I really didn’t think I could stick with something strict, since I’d failed so many times in the past when I’d tried, so I just focused on the running: 3 x a week, half an hour each time, at a level I could handle. My weight loss was slow at first. The first month I actually gained a pound or two as my body adjusted to the new workouts and my hunger increased at first. But, I stuck with it. By the third month, I’d lost a few pounds and people started commenting on my weight loss. At first it embarrassed me, but, little by little I got less self-conscious and started enjoying the positive attention and the new energy I was discovering from taking time for myself and getting some exercise!
I ran that “dream” marathon in October of 2009, while I was 36 years old! I was down to about 135 lbs by that point. It wasn’t long before I started also running trails and ultra marathons. The more I ran, the fitter I got and the more weight I lost. My body finally settled back down to about 126 lbs (the very weight I was before I got pregnant with my first child) and has remained there for two years. Today on my new driver’s license, I wrote that exact number: 126 and it felt like I’d won the lottery to have the chance to say that!
I was so happy while I was filling out the paperwork, that I had to share my story with the woman who was processing my paperwork. She got so excited about my weight loss story, that she told me she was going to start working on an exercise plan for herself, too! That made me feel awesome! My hope is always to inspire other Moms, other Dads – others out there who have become overweight that they, too can lose the weight and find JOY in their lives again! If I did it — you can too!!!!!
Here is my favorite “after” picture from the past year: