April 23, 2009

Five years ago, I was a divorced, overweight single parent. I was depressed and turned to food for comfort. I isolated myself and was very lonely. The more I ate, the bigger I got, and the more alone I felt. Around that time, I met Annie, a co-worker who became my best friend. I showed her a picture of myself when I was smaller and told her I wanted to be healthy again. She told me that I didn't need an expensive program, a gym or pills to lose weight; I could do it all myself. She then invited me to go running with her.

We hit a four-mile trail nearby, and I ran and walked as far as I could. At first, it was so hard I thought I'd die. I could only run one-fourth of a mile. But, instead of viewing the whole trail as an impossible task, I set small goals, like running to the water fountain, then walking for a while. I added miles and hills as I was ready. I bought a running log. It felt good to write down my progress.

Next, Annie introduced me to the concept of portion control. She taught me that the key is not to deprive yourself. Adding variety to my diet was a big help. I changed from my typical lunch of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes and gravy with pie to vegetables with chicken or another lean meat. I found that I liked vegetables and knew they were more beneficial to my body. I stopped eating high-fat foods for breakfast and started eating fruit with cereal or a bagel instead. I also learned to drink lots of water. When I want a treat, I have a low-fat chocolate candy bar or simply indulge my craving.

As the weight came off, I began discovering my dreams. I joined a running club. I won a writing contest and had my work published in a magazine. I found that I enjoy writing, and I'm good at it. I also enjoy dance and have taken up tap and ballet. I dream of one day owning a dance studio.

Once I realized it was my choice to remain trapped by my weight, I decided to free myself by simply applying movement to my life. It alleviates depression, gives me strength to handle daily stress and helps me find clear solutions to my problems.

After a year of practicing my new habits consistently, I'd lost 60 pounds. I ran my first 10k and have since participated in two more. The satisfaction I feel gives me the drive to continue pursuing my goals, including a bachelor's degree in applied science. When you feel good on the inside, it shows on the outside. At a healthy 121 pounds, I am proud to be demonstrating a healthful way of life to my children. I recently got married, and my friends and family tell me I glow. The end result is total fulfillment.