Here is the AMAZING post I promised you! (A week late, sue me…haha).
I love social networking. I’m not sure how I survived without Facebook/LiveJournal/Tribe etc. before! A few months back my friend Sharon introduced me to her friend and running buddy Alexis via FB. Sharon lives in DC and is running with Team in Training (an amazing organization that helps train runners and non-runners for marathons to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society). Sharon said Alexis and I would be fast friends – Alexis is sassy, sweet and in 18 months she has lost 223 pounds. Oh yes, you read that right – she has lost TWO HUNDRED AND TWENTY THREE POUNDS!
She’s been blogging about her weight-loss/running all along (Losing Lex) and I was fortunate enough to chat with her so I could share her amazing story with my readers. Alexis is truly an inspiration, and I think you’ll all agree with me! 🙂
Here’s her before picture (450 pounds, and she is 5’2″)
Here is Alexis now at 238 pounds! She shaved her head to show support for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society:
It doesn’t even look like the same person, does it?! I was shocked too!
Here’s a side-by-side comparison:
Without further ado…I will play journalist! (My questions and comments are italicized).
Were you heavy as a child? Is your immediate family also overweight? She gained weight starting at 5 (because of an undiagnosed disease – she was on steroids) – she was the “fat kid” and comforted by food….Food was her BFF (high-five sista- me too!). Later she was properly diagnosed with Lupus. You can read all about her struggles with it here.
Had you tried to lose weight before? She had tried things like Cabbage soup diet/Atkins but did not have much success with either and at age 18 she was scheduled to have gastric bypass and the week before her insurance denied the claim”…that was easily one of the best missed opportunities of her life, IMHO!
What was your breaking point? At 375 she was in a super severe car accident…when she finally could get out of bed physically she emotionally/mentally could not. One morning she woke up (at 450) at age 23 with a pain in her chest and thought she was having a heart attack….that should NOT be a thought that crosses a 23-yr old’s mind. (trust me, I’ve had similar thoughts and it’s completely f*cked to think that under the age of 30 you could consider a heart attack as a reality).
What was your first step into this new lifestyle? Bob Harper’s book – “Are you ready?” – she saw an advertisement saying “Are YOU ready?” and said aloud “Fuck yeah!” – she says she came into this with no expectations and as she started loosing weight she realized she needed to work on the emotional stuff and not just the weight. The food being gone leaves you with this vulnerability – you feel naked! Bad days are harder – but even she still had days when she needs to succumb to eating something to feel better. You have your whole life to practice bad habits….and a short time to practice good ones. Forgive yourself for making bad choices and move on.
When Alexis mentioned “working on the emotional stuff” and also added a statistic that shocked me: “Only 5% keep it off – and that’s because of the emotional baggage that you need to deal with along with the weight-loss.” Crazy! I’m glad I’ve been dealing with that crap as I go along…I wouldn’t want to look back once reaching my goal and realize I hadn’t become emotionally more mature through this journey!
What was your first workout? A walk around the block. Literally. Bob’s book says to just WALK. She went around the block, sweating, huffing, puffing….comes back red in the face and her family is like “You must have gone a long way!”. She kept adding longer walks and gradually it would get easier, etc. She’d add circuits in – which boosted weight-loss. She knew she could run but she wasn’t sure when to start. Last May she decided just to TRY…her first run was 30 seconds – it was feet shuffling faster- LOL! In retrospect is seems funny but it was a BIG deal at the time. So she’d add 15 seconds then walk for a minute etc. Finally she got to the point where she was full-out running for 30 minutes @ 350 pounds (at 5’2”!). She discovered running was free therapy! She can process the anxieties of a day and the changes she was going through emotionally. Running was her venting time – she could wear her emotions down and just deal with them and move on. (I have friends who are runners and they have confirmed Alexis’s theory about running being therapy – it completely clears you mind of the clutter). Now her workout regimen is cross-training, long runs for the marathon, yoga and running 5 times a week. (Yes, I said FIVE TIMES A WEEK! Isn’t she a show off?! 😉
What prompted you to undertake a marathon? “Someday I’d like to…” — once she started running she decided to set a goal of running a marathon in the next 3 years. Mom prompted her to do it NOW and stop waiting. So, she signed up and started training w/ the Nike chip (similar to a pedometer in her shoe) – she was training for the Philly marathon originally – but she had a serious knee injury. Then when she moved back to the east coast she attended “National Running Day” – when she got a call to join Team in Training (free marathon coaching) and she joined. Her first run was at 6am and was a 5 mile walk/run (circuit). So, they start running and she took off like a bat out of hell kicking ASS. Then come mile 2 she’s exhausted and thinking this is a LONG ASS mile (are these people moving the markers?!) and now by mile 3 everyone is in front of her and she’s walking slow and ready to die. By the end she thought she was alone, oh no – the whole team was waiting for her and clapping! Since then she’s been waiting for the “Oh you’re not actually a runner….sorry lady!” talk….but she’s never gotten it. Team in Training is AMAZINGLY supportive, like a second family. Now she’s 2 weeks out from her first marathon and she’s a changed woman. Everyone has bad runs – but your team is there to help you get to the finish line. Her longest run so far has been 20 miles – TWENTY MILES! A half-marathon is the physically conditioning point – a full-marathon is the emotional conditioning. So, she’s ready physically and emotionally for her first marathon; the Marine Corps Marathon on Halloween in Arlington, VA! While you’re out partying or trick-or-treating w/ your kids; send some good vibes into the universe for Alexis! 🙂
One of the funniest things she told me during our convo was that people look at her funny when she says she’s a runner and about to complete a marathon. She says it’s like someone saying: How far is your marathon? (as if a fat marathon is shorter…). Her sarcastic answer? ” Oh it’s around a box of Krispy Kremes! No, it’s 26.2 miles dammit!” Haha! I told you she was funny! I laughed for a few days about that.
Is your end game reaching a certain weight or completion of the marathon or something else? Not a weight necessarily, just a healthy BMI (140 pounds-ish for her frame) – not a goal that hinges on her scale; instead she wants to live a healthy lifestyle forever. Period!
Did you set mini-goals along the way? Numbers freak her out so she focuses on things like make good choices for the day – the goal is to live a healthy life. Life is really just a collection of healthy DAYS when you break it down.
Were you always vegan or did you give up meat as your journey progressed? Vegan now – but never liked meat – when she got rid of the sauces and gravies she realized she just didn’t like meat she liked condiments! LOL. Egg/Milk allergies (sinus infections) – so cutting those out was EASY.
Do you miss anything you used to love eating? If she misses something, she will eat it….but before she could eat a WHOLE chocolate cake and now she can have a few bites and be satisfied. “A whole bag of chips goes missing when I tell myself I can’t have it” (her sentiment that I completely relate to!). You don’t have to deprive yourself. This lifestyle has to be something she can live with and deprivation is not the way to do it.
Who is your biggest weight-loss inspiration? Bob Harper (healthy lifestyle inspiration) and her other inspiration is herself. She can take pride in her accomplishments now which was something that was never possible before. (Isn’t that cool? When you’re a fat kid that’s an overachiever – nothing you ever do measures up. So, this proclamation is a HUGE break-through!)
Alexis is hugely inspiring to me – and I hope you all share that sentiment. She has been writing about her journey on Patch under the handle The Fat Runner (ha!) so please check her out there too!