Meagan Wilson opens up about how running changed her life as she gears up to complete the TCS New York City Marathon.

By By Meagan Wilson as told to Faith Brar
Updated: October 25, 2017

Growing up, I was always a "big kid"-so it's safe to say that I've struggled with weight my whole life. I was constantly teased about the way I looked and found myself turning to food for comfort. It came to a point where I thought that if I even looked at something to eat, I would gain a pound.

My wake-up call came in 2010 when I was at my heaviest ever. I weighed 274 pounds and was at my 30th birthday party when my daughter came running up to me for a hug. My heart sank to my stomach when I realized that she couldn't wrap her arms around me. In that moment I knew something had to change. If I didn't do something different, I was going to be dead by 40, leaving my daughter without a parent. So while I needed to make changes for me, I also had to for her. I wanted to be the best parent I could be.

At that point in my life, I wasn't exercising at all, and I knew I had to start by setting a goal. I'm a huge Disney fanatic and had read a lot of stories about people traveling to Disneyland locations all over the world to run half marathons. I was sold. But first, I needed to learn how to run again. (Related: 10 Races Perfect for People Just Beginning Running)

Running was something I avoided even when I played sports in high school, so I took it one step at a time. I started going to the gym, and each time, I'd press the 5K button on the treadmill. I'd complete that distance no matter how long it took me. At first, I could only run for about a quarter mile and had to walk the rest-but I always finished.

A few months later, I could run those 3 miles without stopping. After that, I felt like I was really ready to start training for my first half.

I followed Jeff Galloway's run walk run method because I thought it would work best for me being an inexperienced runner. I ran three days a week and started eating cleaner. I never really went on a "diet," but I paid closer attention to food labels and quit fast food.

I also did several 5Ks to prepare for the race and vividly remember the time I signed up for an 8-miler on a whim. That was going to be the farthest distance I ran before my half, and getting through it was harder than anything I'd ever done before. I was the last one to finish and there was a small part of me that dreaded what would happen come race day. (Related: 26.2 Mistakes I Made During My First Marathon So You Don't Have To)

But just a few weeks later, I was at the starting line at Disney World, Orlando, hoping that if nothing else, I'd just make it past the finish line. The first few miles were torture; as I knew they would be. And then something amazing happened: I started to feel good. Quick. Strong. Clear. It was by far the best run I'd ever experienced, and it happened when I least expected it.

That race truly triggered my love for running. Since then, I've completed countless 5Ks and half marathons. A couple years ago, I ran my first marathon at Disneyland Paris. It took me 6 hours-but it's never been about the pace for me, it's about making it to the end and surprising yourself every time. Now as I gear up to run the TCS New York City Marathon, I can't believe what my body can do and am still shocked at the fact that I can run miles. (Related: What I Learned from Running 20 Disney Races)

Today, I've lost over 100 pounds and throughout my whole journey, I've realized that making a change wasn't really about the weight. The scale isn't the be-all and end-all. Yes, it measures the force of gravity on your body. But it does not measure how many miles you can run, how much you can lift, or your happiness.

Looking forward, I hope my life becomes an example for my daughter and teaches her that you can do anything you put your mind to. The road might feel long and tiring when you first set out, but the finish line is so, so sweet.


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