As a new mom, Renée knew she'd have to adapt healthy habits—ones she'd never followed—to lose her baby weight

By Renée Ross
Renée Ross

Several years ago, as a new mother, I found myself at a crossroads. Due to the dynamics of my marriage, I was frequently isolated and alone-and I often took comfort in food. I knew I was putting on pounds, but for a while I fooled myself into thinking that things were okay. But the truth came out when I had to finally give up the maternity clothes. I could barely squeeze into a size 16.

I decided to make a change-not only for myself, but, more importantly, for my son. I needed to adopt a healthy lifestyle simply to be able to physically keep up with him without losing my breath, and, also, hopefully to extend my time on Earth with him. I had one of life's light-bulb moments and realized that although there were numerous stressful situations in my life I was unable to control, I did, however, have full control over what I put in my mouth. (Check out 50 Food Swaps to Cut 100 Calories.)

Living a healthy life became my priority. I knew to succeed at changing my habits I needed both accountability and support, so I publicly declared my intentions on my blog and YouTube. Thanks to my friends and followers, I had help every step of the way, as I shared both my victories and my challenges. And I returned to doing things I loved, like dancing and visiting with friends. After eight months of committing to a healthy lifestyle, I met my goal weight: 52 pounds lighter and able to fit in a size 6.

I was back to being the gregarious, fun-loving woman who'd been hiding and drowning in layers of fat and unhappiness. Not only did I shed the weight, but I also ended my marriage, and, as a result, I am once again the real me!

I started my journey to healthy living the week of Thanksgiving 2009, reached my goal weight July 2010 and have continued to live a healthy lifestyle ever since. Maintenance isn't easy, but what has worked for me is staying focused and challenging myself by preparing for endurance events. I ran my first half-marathon with Team in Training October 2010. I was running for my health, yes, but I also raised more than $5000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. My girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter was battling leukemia and I ran in her honor. I became addicted to endurance events and have subsequently run 14 half-marathons and a full marathon. I am currently training for my second 199-mile Ragnar relay race. (Are you a first-time runner? Check out this Beginner's Guide to Running a 5K.)

But, above all, I think being kind to myself has been the key to maintaining my healthy lifestyle. I know that every day I may not exercise and I also may not make the best food choices. However, I believe that indulging in "everything in moderation" keeps me from feeling deprived and overdoing it: I have adopted a lifestyle, not a diet. I feel great, look good and am happier than I've been in years. And now my son understands the importance of physical exercise and healthy eating; he's been my biggest cheerleader and has even exercised with me! I've given myself the gift of health and it truly is the gift that keeps on giving!

Comments (7)

April 16, 2019
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