Katie // Runner #1

Katie // Runner #1

“Running helped me be a better mom to my boys.”

Katie first realized that she was different from the other kids at school when she was in the fourth grade, and a bullying boy started calling her “Shamu” with regards to her weight. This started many years of dieting, only to get heavier and heavier throughout the years. She continued to gain weight through college, marriage, and two pregnancies. Katie hit rock bottom when she discovered she was too obese to help her son learn to ride a bicycle. She was gasping for breath as she tried to run alongside the bike, and her sister had to take over. Katie vowed that when it was her younger son’s turn to learn, she would be the one to teach him.

Katie began to measure out food portions and count calories. She noticed the effect it had on her weight right away, and it was the encouragement she needed to keep going. She even made a bucket list goal to enter a 5K race and RUN it–and she had never even run a single mile in her life at that point. After she lost 60 pounds through diet changes alone, she started training to run a 5K. To her surprise, she picked it up pretty quickly, and she became hooked on running. She didn’t stop with the 5K–she continued on to compete in 10Ks, half-marathons, and even several full marathons.

She continued to count her calories and lost 125 pounds over 16 months. It was the first time in Katie’s life that she was a “normal” weight for her height! It has been six years since that fateful day she tried to teach her son to ride a bike, and she continues to run to help keep the weight off (a never-ending battle). Katie’s story has inspired many people. She’s been featured on Dr. Oz, Today Show and in Women’s World Magazine! She says she feels a million times better, and most importantly to her, she was able to teach her younger son to ride a bike when his time came. This was one of the biggest rewards for her hard work!

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Meredith // Runner #2

Meredith // Runner #2

“Running helped me to start living life instead of watching life pass me by.”

Meredith realized she needed to lose weight in May, 2005. Pictures from her best friends night-before-the wedding dinner were taken and when she saw them, she wanted to cry. Meredith always knew she needed to lose weight but never realized just how much. She avoided scales and assumed that she was no bigger than the previous time she had lost weight. She lived in baggy clothes and there was always elastic hiding her true size.

When Meredith joined Weight Watchers in September 2005 she was 256 and when she became Lifetime in May of 2010 she was down to her goal weight of 155 lbs. To date, Meredith has lost 101 pounds. Meredith’s weight loss was gradual and although it’s not easy, this is the first time in her life that she has been able to keep it off.

Meredith hit a significant turning point in her weight loss journey. It was November of 2009 when she had realized that over a 42 week span Meredith had gained and lost the same pound. After consulting with her Weight Watcher’s leader and crying through her entire meeting Meredith decided enough was enough and committed to getting serious and upping activity.

That decision is what led to her love of running. She started off by running 1 lap at the rec center. Eventually she would run up to 70 laps! As she was training for her first half marathon in October of 2010 she tore her right hamstring by slipping on a wet piece of tile in her house. That put her running on a stand still for a few months but she never gave up. Meredith got back to running and was determined to do a half marathon the following year. She trained hard and Meredith successfully ran the P.F. Changs half marathon in an impressive finish time of 2:22:01. Meredith continued to run and has gone on to run countless, 5Ks, 10ks, half marathons and has even added a few full marathons to her running resume. Meredith is showing no signs of slowing down!

Meredith continues to work at maintaining weight loss. Her success has even inspired her husband David to join her on her healthy journey. David also began to run and is celebrating his own 100+ weigh loss! Together they eat well and run. They are healthier, happier and excited about their future.

Lealah // Runner #3

Lealah // Runner #3

“Running helped me realize that I am capable of achieving whatever I choose to attempt.”

Lealah hit her highest weight of 280 pounds in high school and managed to take 100 pounds off! But typical of many weight loss stories, her weight began to creep back on and she found herself back up to 260. In 2010 Lealah realized she was incredibly unhappy, depressed and angry with the way life was going. She tried anti-depressants but that made things worse. Everything felt overwhelming. She felt trapped and like there was no escape.

Learning that a friend was planning on having lap band surgery made Lealah think, “Hey that sounds like something that could work for me!” She attended seminars, got excited, and dreamed of shedding the weight. Unfortunately, the doctor quickly burst her bubble. She could not have the surgery until she lost some weight. She was instructed to lose 10% of her body weight before they’d perform the surgery.

Lealah’s determination couldn’t be shaken. She started eating better and began walking. In just one month she had lost 20 pounds! She kept going and before she knew it, she had lost more than the 10% required to begin the process of weight loss surgery. It was then she began to consider the repercussions that came with the surgery and thought, “If I can lose this much with diet and exercise then maybe I can go all the way.”

She discovered Sparkpeople.com where she tracked her food and exercise. She also got a membership at the YMCA and started trying new exercises. By May, she had started going to Zumba and loved it! Healthy eating and exercise worked! Surgery was long forgotten.

In June 2011, she decided to try a second shot at running and signed up for her first 5K. Since then, she’s run countless races including 5Ks, a Warrior Dash, 10ks, a 25k, half-marathons, and one full marathon. Currently she’s a Zumba instructor and enjoys incorporating Yoga and Body Pump into her regular workout routine.

After losing 130 pounds and learning how to adapt to a healthy lifestyle, Lealah smiles to herself when she receives weight loss surgery advertisements in the mail, knowing this is one surgery she will never need.

Ada // Runner #4

Ada // Runner #4

“Running allowed me to be able to do the simple fun things that normal people get to do.”

You might remember Ada Wong, runner-up on Season 10 of The Biggest Loser. Ada shared her life-long struggle with weight in front of millions of viewers and began the show at her all-time high weight of 259.

Before going on the Biggest Loser, Ada tried every fad diet in the book. As an Asian American, she felt like she particularly stuck out since there is a stereotype of being rail-thin in her culture. In her 20′s, depressed, lacking confidence and unhappy about missing out on what should be “the time of her life,” Ada decided to take a chance and apply for the show. She felt that getting on the show would be her best chance for success. But, she was ashamed of how much she had gained and the thought of donning the show’s staple weigh-in wardrobe of spandex shorts and sports bra for her friends, family and world to see, enabled her to keep putting off sending in the application. Finally, she decided to give it a shot and reasoned that “letting it all out there, tears and all” was a fair trade off for getting healthy.

She made an audition tape and took the leap. The audition tape made her face the music and she vowed to take off the weight no matter what happened, To her surprise she made it to the show and that kicked off her journey. Through developing new eating habits and intense workouts (including running the fastest female marathon time ever on the show) Ada dropped close to 100 pounds while on the ranch and found her inner athlete!

Since the show, Ada has kept up the good work. She continues to run marathons and has recently completed a full Ironman triathlon. Ada has found confidence and passion she never knew existed. She’s grateful to Biggest Loser for giving her the tools she needed to take it off but it’s her daily perseverance and determination that helps her to maintain a healthy weight.

Andrea // Runner #5

Andrea // Runner #5

“Running helped me lose the weight that was holding me back from becoming the me I always wanted to be.”

Andrea struggled with weight most of her life. Her final reality check came when she picked out her usual size 24 jeans and went to try them on; panic set in when she realized that she needed a bigger size. She left the mall depressed and at her all-time highest weight of 280 pounds.

She decided that she could not allow herself to continue down that path and slowly made changes to her diet and exercise by using the Weight Watchers program and walking. She struggled but never quit fighting. She had so many weight loss books from joining and rejoining Weight Watchers. Andrea’s “aha moment” included accepting that her journey would be about patience and persistence and not perfection. A Weight Watcher leader helped her to see that eating and living a healthy lifestyle could be attainable and enjoyable. Her motto became, “Lose it the way you intend to live it.”

In 2011, her hard work paid off and she was invited to be part of the Oprah Weight Loss Finale Show. It was an absolute dream come true for Andrea!

Andrea soon began running. She signed up for a few 5K’s and loved the feeling of race day. Running became a part of her life and since then she’s competed in 10ks, and several half marathons.

Rik – Team Captain // Runner #6

Rik – Team Captain // Runner #6

“Running has changed my thinking from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can and I will.’”

As far back as Rik can remember, he had always been fat. He comes from “a long line of fat people and great cooks.” While Rik counts his dad as one of his heroes, Rik also has his father’s genes. For most of his life, he watched his dad struggle with health challenges such as obesity, back trouble, a heart stent, and diabetes. One day, at age 38, weighing 275 pounds, visiting his dad in the hospital after a cardiac episode, it hit home for Rik. Looking at his dad he felt as if he was looking into his own future. Rik was already dealing with high blood pressure and cholesterol, low energy, and the start of sleep apnea. He realized he had to take action.

That’s when Rik met his personal trainer, Myra, the woman who Rik credits with saving his life. His first session was difficult; he was embarrassed that he couldn’t manage even one push-up, and he wanted to give up. But Myra was positive and encouraging, so he kept trying. Rik and Myra worked together weekly for months, and Rik found it getting easier. Each session came with new small successes, which helped build Rik’s self-esteem and confidence.

Six months in, Myra asked him to set a fitness goal. Rik surprised himself with his answer: he wanted to learn to run. Myra coached Rik on the basics of good running form, and even went with him to buy his first pair of running shoes. After about six weeks of working at it together, Rik was able to run a mile without stopping. It made him feel like he could do anything.

Encouraged, Rik quickly set a new goal: to run a 5K. He trained diligently for 3 months. On race day, he was nervous, worried that others at the race might judge him for not being a “real runner.” But he met his goal, running the whole distance without walking. Rik was hooked. He set a new running goal every three months, gradually building up to running his first marathon, 18 months later. About the marathon, Rik says, “It was the hardest thing I had ever done. And the most proud of myself I had ever been.”

Over three years, Rik’s weight dropped by 90 pounds, and his health improved dramatically. His blood pressure dropped 30 points, and his cholesterol dropped 100 points. And he bought an entirely new wardrobe; even his shoes got too big. Rik recalls, “My doctor was amazed. No more medication, no more staying home while everyone else goes out to have fun.”

Now, Rik has set two lifetime goals. He is working to run a marathon in every state. And because he received so much help and support along his journey, he feels strongly about helping others achieve success. As an RRCA-certified distance running coach, he is helping others get off the couch and change their lives, a step at a time. “The person I was before wouldn’t even recognize me now. I know I will never go back,” Rik says, “Now, it’s time to pay it forward.”