|The face behind the fluff.|
CLICK HERE and scroll to the bottom to start from day one of this blog. My full story is below.
My name is Kandi. I grew up in a very small town in northern Minnesota, and I was always "chubby". I dealt with bullies and I dreaded gym class. In fact, in 8th grade, I actually failed physical education - I dreaded it so much that I routinely skipped or made excuses. Running around, showing off my lack of coordination, being yelled at for missing the ball, dealing with the intense competition and how seriously some of my peers took even a "fun" game of kickball...it did not appeal to me. I was chubby, had low self esteem, and no confidence. I also never joined any sports, sticking instead with band and girl scouts.
I don't remember how overweight I was at any particular age. I do know that at age 16, I was about a size 13. Not terrible compared to what I would grow into in my mid-late 20's...but still not great considering I was a teenager surrounded by other, judgmental teenagers - most of whom were smaller than myself. I went through a stage in my mid-teens where I was very sad and angry at the world. Depressed. Self-injurious. For several months, I wore all black clothes and heavy make up, dark nail polish, etc.
When I was 16, I met my now-husband. It was partially because of him that I was able to turn my life around. I graduated, started college...and soon, the freshmen 15 started creeping up on me. I wasn't living in a dorm, but for a year I did live with my grandmother who needed help with daily chores and getting to appointments etc. I did the grocery shopping and unfortunately, had no self-control. I gained. I gained some more after having back surgery when I was 19.
When I got engaged in 2003, I weighed 210 lbs. I knew I wanted to lose some weight for my big day, so I started the Atkins diet. For months, I ate very few carbs - and it worked. I lost almost 40 lbs! My wedding dress had to be taken in a few sizes. I felt great! Unfortunately, it didn't last. Over the next year and a half, I gained back 25 of those pounds. Realizing I needed to do something about my weight before I ended up where I started, I started going to the gym with my husband (who also has battled his weight for his whole life). We started eating better. I lost about 5 lbs, putting me at 190...but then got stuck. And then...pregnant. I gained 60 or 70 lbs...if you do the math...I was pretty heavy!
I was able to lose about 35 lbs after my first pregnancy, but found out I was pregnant again when my first daughter was only 9 months old. This time, I actually lost weight initially...almost 25 lbs. Eventually I started gaining, and ended up with a total net gain of about 10 lbs. Not bad! I lost some of it, and when all was said and done I was a steady 227.
I was a size 22. Shopping was a nightmare. I felt icky, tired and uncomfortable. Job interviews or meeting new people made me want to puke, just because I knew how I looked and I felt so unhappy with it. I hated having pictures of myself taken. I didn't even want to be in pictures with my kids when they were opening birthday or Christmas presents! Then for New Years, 2011, I decided that was it. I was sick of feeling tired and lazy. Sick of feeling uncomfortable and self conscious. Sick of wearing size 22. Sick of being afraid of having my picture taken. Most of all, I knew I needed to make a change for my children's sake. I wanted to be there as long as possible and as healthy as possible for them. I wanted to be able to run around with them...to be active with them. To take them to do fun things and even have fun myself, rather than wishing I was sitting on the couch because I was so exhausted.
I started off with a change in diet. Smaller portions, more quality. Less junk. And it worked! I started losing right away. 5 lbs. 10 lbs. 15 lbs. I was so excited, and determined to keep going rather than letting it fade like I had done so many times in the past after losing a few pounds. After getting used to my new changes in eating, I added in some light exercise using my Wii Fit. I ran in place, did hula hooping, step and yoga poses. All of this seems insignificant but when you weigh over 200 lbs and had zero physical activity before, it makes a big difference.
Then we decided to take the plunge and buy a treadmill. I quickly became determined to be able to jog. At first, I could only go about 4 mph for 10 seconds. Literally, that was enough to make me feel like dying. But I kept at it, gradually increasing the length of time. Soon, I could jog for a full minute! 5 minutes! 10 minutes!
I felt amazing and my confidence was growing. I was talked into signing up for a 5k that summer and I was terrified, but excited. I trained, but only on the treadmill because at this point, I was still too self conscious to run outside where people could see me!
The 5k was hard. I walked in a few spots. For the last quarter mile, my shoulders hurt and I was exhausted. It was unlike anything I had experienced before - never had I put in so much physical effort into something. It was very unfamiliar and I was thinking to myself, what the heck, this is NOT fun! But then...I crossed the finish line. In 38:48, which was under my goal of 40 minutes. And I was officially hooked on running. I was teased that maybe the following year, I would run the 1/2 marathon option instead of the 5k. I laughed. I thought to myself, yeah right, when hell freezes over!
Over the next several months, I spent time improving my stamina and even my speed. In November I did my second 5k. I walked very little and finished in 35:52...quite a big improvement! I continued running on my treadmill all winter, although my eating habits left much to be desired over the holidays, and I gained a little weight back. But in February of 2012, I got back on track. I signed up for a 7k in March, started eating better again, and the weight starting coming off again.
Then something crazy happened. Ridiculous even, considering my history. Considering I failed gym class in 8th grade. I signed up for a half marathon. The same one that had been suggested to me the previous summer and had made me laugh because it seemed so impossible. As I began training for the 1/2, the weight really started falling off. I started feeling truly healthy. People started noticing my progress. And I fell more in love with running. I even did something completely out of character, and signed up to lead a local chapter of a national running club! Of course, it was only out of character before...but now, it just felt right.
The 1/2 went great. It was hard. My goal was to finish in under 2:30, and I finished in 2:24:33. If I wasn't hooked on running and on races before, I was now. I was exhausted and a little sore. My stomach was ticked at me for what I put it through. But I loved it all. It was all worth it.
Since then, I have done a handful of other races...5k's and another 1/2, plus another 1/2 I am training for. My weight has leveled off at around 85 lbs lost. I would like to lose about 5 more, but I feel amazing either way. Shopping is fun, I have confidence, and I can really play with my kids. I am so grateful for all of the support and encouragement I have received from family, friends and strangers along the way. I couldn't have done it without that. I am looking forward to a long, active, healthy life!