Up until I hit about 30 years old, I was not much on physical fitness. I really didn’t have much trouble with gaining too much weight, or feeling like I had a real weight problem (meaning, I felt like I might be happy to lose 5 lbs, but didn’t feel motivated to do so since I was at a normal weight). I ate pretty much what I wanted to and stayed at the same size. That is, until I gave birth to my first child.
I didn’t gain over 28 lbs with that pregnancy, but I didn’t lose the last 8lbs before getting pregnant with my second. With him, I gained 33 lbs and was at a high weight (for me), 164 lbs, about 40 lbs over my normal weight. I didn’t like my body at that weight, my clothes didn’t fit, and I was going to have to actually work to get the weight off.
My 10 year anniversary celebration was the same year I gave birth to my second. We planned on going on a cruise that October, so I had to lose about 20 lbs before that. I had managed to get down to about 145 naturally. I began exercising at 6 weeks postpartum, right after my check up, doing some aerobic exercise video tapes (Jane Fonda, I think!) with a friend. I weaned my son from breastfeeding at the end of July; I planned on restricting my calorie intact and knew this wasn’t a good idea while nursing. I had decided that running was the easiest and cheapest way to exercise and lose weight. I only needed shorts, t-shirt, socks and running shoes. No gym membership required!
My first time out, my goal was to keep going for 15 minutes, walking or running. I found I could only jog for about 2 minutes before getting out of breath (did I mention I had 5 weeks of bedrest with both pregnancies? Yeah.) Slowly, over the course of 3 weeks, I was finally able to jog for the entire 15 minutes!
In the meantime, I was using the Slim Fast plan as my eating plan. I added in some extra carb calories (maybe 200-300) to keep hunger at bay. The pounds started coming off and this inspired me to keep going. Instead of emphasizing how far I went on my runs, I went by minutes. After I made it jogging straight for 15 minutes, the next week, I went 17 minutes three days that week. The next week, it was 19 minutes for three days, and so on, until I was able to jog without stopping for 30 minutes. After that, I actually started taking my car out after my runs to clock the mileage (oh, the days before affordable GPS!)
When my husband and I left for our cruise, I had gotten back down to about 125, my pre-pregnancy weight. I hadn’t seen that number for about two and a half years and I really felt great! Our trip was fantastic and we had a memorable anniversary. After we got back home, I continued with my running. The next year, I decided that maybe a marathon wasn’t a crazy lunatic idea after all, and decided to train for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. I had a great running buddy, Dianne, who would run part of my long runs with me, then bike beside me (and around me) as I finished up my mileage. I was following the training schedule in Jeff Galloway’s Book on Running for a 4 hour marathon finish time. I highly recommend his book. I finished my first marathon in 4 hours, 14 minutes and 19 seconds, a little off my goal, but I finished!!
I’m telling my story to you because I really didn’t believe that I could ever be a runner. A marathon sounded like an incredible feat of physical endurance that only crazy people wanted to accomplish. I didn’t like running (it hurt), I wasn’t athletic (I quit track in junior high because one girl was faster than me). After that first marathon, I would look back and think about the years before my kids were born, all the time I wasted that I could have been so involved in a running club! Runners are fun people, they’re nice, they encourage each other. You’re making an effort to be healthy, races usually raise money for a good cause, having a race as a goal keeps you motivated to get out there and train.
If you’re looking for something to get into, don’t want to spend a lot of money and are willing to put the time in, I would encourage you to try running. Even if you have to walk/run like I did, get out there. Time spent moving your body will reap rewards in lower cholesterol, lower blood sugars, muscle building and fat loss. It’s amazing, too, the psychological benefits of knowing that you can run a mile without stopping.
So, that’s my story of how I got started with my running. If I could do it, you can, too. Let your stubborn, willful self take over and get you out the door. You can do it. No think about it.
My daughter, husband, and I at the 2011 Little Rock Half Marathon