On March 3rd 2016, exactly 5 years ago, I had an annual checkup scheduled with my doctor. Like most people, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to a doctor’s visit because it always seems like a change needed to be made. In that way, this visit would be much the same as before.
Unlike those other visits though, I actually decided to start making changes when I left the doctor’s office.
On this particular visit, my doctor wanted me to lose 7 pounds over the next few months to lower my borderline high blood pressure. I can’t say that this was a surprise. In fact, I was expecting him to tell me I needed to lose more.
You see, I’d been overweight most of my life. Most of the time I was conscious of it – from wearing bigger clothes to avoiding taking my shirt off in public. And as if I wasn’t aware, sometimes there was name calling on the playground or field to remind me. Or even from an adult who used to drive my carpool to school! And let’s just say when your name rhymes with “fat” it doesn’t really help matters.
I went through different periods, mainly in high school, where I trimmed down some, but I was never able to keep the weight off. As I got into my 20s, I was less active and, combined with bad eating habits, I weighed the most that I had in my entire life.
As I was approaching my mid-30s, I knew it was the time to start making some changes.
I decided to treat it like a challenge and, over the next few days, I laid out my plans to lose the weight. I’ve always been more motivated when I challenge myself and not see it as someone else forcing me to do something.
First up was weekly meal prep and smaller, healthier portions. Then, I added in a workout video 6 days a week. Lastly, I added in running about 3 miles, 3 to 4 times per week.
After a few weeks, I started seeing results which told me that the changes I made were beginning to pay off. By continuing with my newly-formed routine, I continued to lose weight and, as a result, my running continued to improve. Throughout June and July, I began running more while continuing with the workout video. Now for the good news. When I returned to the doctor in August, I had lost over 35 pounds and my blood pressure was lowered to an acceptable level!
Unfortunately, the purpose of this appointment was also to diagnose stomach pain I was having. As it turned out, I needed to have my gallbladder removed a couple of weeks later which meant I couldn’t run or do any strenuous exercise for about a month.
Despite this setback, those 5 months had shown me what was possible through consistent hard work and commitment!
The goal of losing the weight was just to become healthier. Initially, it didn’t have anything to do with running, but as I started to feel like everything was coming together physically, that’s when I started to make running more of a priority. It helped me maintain my weight and exercise daily.
Losing the weight gave me a confidence boost which improved my running. From a physical standpoint, the two kind of go hand-in-hand, but where I benefited the most from the weight loss was from the mental and emotional standpoints. Seeing and feeling the effects that the weight loss had on my running gave me the confidence to take my running to new heights.
With different motivators, I ran inconsistently for over a decade with varying degrees of success, but I never kept it going for long enough to experience the benefits of running or to maintain any significant weight loss. I had even run a few marathons and half marathons in those years, but these were really only an attempt to motivate myself to start running again.
For most of 2017, I just focused on running 3-5 times a week and by the end of the year I started my running streak. But as 2018 began, I was looking for a way to test my running progress and see what my weight loss had done to help me when it came to racing.
So, I decided to sign up for a half marathon – the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon San Francisco in April.
By the time I went to California to run the half marathon, I had several good training runs under my belt, but I was still unsure how my weight and training would affect my race times. As it turns out, I got my personal best time of 1:28:37 and felt great doing it!
The next day I went for a short run along the same streets leading to the race’s finish line and I felt that all the hard work I’d been doing up to that point had been validated. I was now committed to stick to everything that I had been doing to maintain my weight and I wanted to take my running to the next level.
Then, in 2019, I lowered my personal best marathon time from 4:11, which was from 2009, to 3:29 in Seattle and then again to 3:25 in Munich!
My progress over the last five years, beginning with my weight loss and now with running, has allowed me to set new targets, time and time again. It’s why I’ve set myself the goal of a sub 3:00 marathon and why I believe I will do it once I have a plan in place. If someone had told me five years ago these would be my goals in 2021, I’d have thought they were crazy!
My point in saying all this isn’t to give you my stats or to brag about anything, it’s really just to show what consistent work and continuing to challenge yourself can do. What started out as losing a few pounds five years ago, has completely changed my life and helped set the stage for the coming years! As I look back on these five years and look forward to the next few years, I’m aware of the hard work necessary to achieve my new goals, but I’m also more confident than ever in achieving them!