May 14, 2013

Running to Lose - a guest post on weight loss

I met Rosie while I worked as a campus minister at the Catholic student Newman Center at WIU several years ago. Rosie was quiet, sweet, and loved by all. Rosie was also really overweight and unhealthy. One random day, several years after our time together at the Newman Center, Rosie posted a jaw-dropping picture of herself on Facebook. Clearly my friend was getting healthy. 

Lately, I have really been struggling with how I look and my feelings about my body. (Summer is coming! I look down at my white, chunky legs  coming out from my shorts and... ugh.) I needed to hear something positive (and maybe you do too) and so I asked Rosie to write a guest post and share her amazing weight loss story with us all. The best part about her journey is that it wasn't about losing weight so she could look hot - it's about being healthy so she can live and enjoy life. She really is a role model to me and a true "thinspiration" - so much more than any picture of some toned and unrealistically-thin-for-my-body-and-state-of-life woman on Pinterest.

Thank you, Rosie, sharing your story with us!

In my teens and early twenties, I feel like I was living in a way that didn’t reflect who I was or how I was raised. I made a lot of poor, selfish decisions that arguably stemmed from one place: a toxic relationship with food. As a kid, I tucked Oreo cookies inside my socks to get them past my mother. In college, I’d order a pizza, bring it to my dorm room, and eat as much as I could until I felt sick. It was really bad. I’m ashamed even writing that, but we have to acknowledge our shortcomings so we can move forward. Here are some “before” pictures from 2008 and 2009:

I remember trying an Overeaters Anonymous meeting for a few weeks, but kept circling back to Weight Watchers. I was so heavy to begin with and could drop 20-30 pounds without making any drastic lifestyle changes, but then I’d just gain it back. Like any loving parent, my mom was worried. She tried talking to me about it. She tried being nice, but sometimes she had to go for the “tough love.” She was frustrated, I was frustrated, I’d start crying, and in the end, nothing would change. But I genuinely cared about my mom’s opinion, and deep down, I knew she was right.

I don’t know if I necessarily had one specific moment that motivated me to commit for good, but after finishing college and struggling to find a teaching job, I realized that getting through an interview is hard enough without weighing 350 pounds and being too disgusted with yourself to make a good impression. I was wasting my life by being fat and miserable. I didn’t want to be “the fat teacher.” wanted to be healthy enough to have a career, feel confident, and be happy.

Four years ago, while pursuing a full-time job, I worked in a before and after school program. I was there from 7 to 8:30 AM, and again from 2:30 to 6:00. In between those times, I went to the gym and spend six hours there, taking a lunch break and occasional rest periods. It wasn’t a realistic schedule for the long term, but I took advantage while the opportunity was there, bonding with the elliptical machine from the start. That (plus a healthier diet and weekly Weight Watchers meetings) helped me lose the first 80 pounds. Still had some work to do, but things were moving in a better direction.

Then I started running. I watched my older sister participate in the 2010 Chicago Marathon, and I was so inspired that I vowed to be there in 2011. Of course, at that time, I hadn’t run in about 10 years, in high school P.E. class, so you could say that I was a little overly ambitious. My sister urged me to start smaller, perhaps with a 5K, but I refused to be told I couldn’t do this, and through the grace of God, it somehow happened. I started on the treadmill in February 2011, first with 2 miles, then eventually 20. I ran the Chicago Half Marathon in September, the Chicago Marathon in October, and reached my goal weight (150 pounds lost) just before Christmas.

On paper, it may sound like it happened quickly and easily, but I don’t want to give off that impression. Losing weight and turning your life around is difficult. There are good days and bad days. I try hard to make healthy eating choices, but what’s great about Weight Watchers is that you don’t have to stop being human. There are people who lose tons of weight and say they have no interest in touching another cheeseburger, although I don’t understand that kind of thinking. I still love pizza, Girl Scout cookies, and Shamrock Shakes every bit as much as I used to, and I do treat myself, but I know how careful I have to be. If the number on the scale is higher on Monday, I know I need to tighten up, get back to the basics, and maintain a clean diet until that number gets back to normal. That’s just how life is for everyone. It’s all about balance. Anyone can have a bad day or week, but we can’t let it spiral to the point where we’ve completely stopped caring. I know that keeping the weight off is only going to get more challenging as I get older, but we do our best, find support around us, and just keep going.

Today, I’m still working hard at retaining what I’ve learned. In just under two years, I completed 11 half marathons, 6 full marathons, and about 8 5K’s. I also teach preschool now, so the 6-hour workout sessions are over, but I knew that was coming. Now I’m usually too tired to do more than 20 minutes after work, but I always try to do something. I always did love walking, even when I was obese. That’s the key—finding something you like. Not everyone loves running, and that’s okay. Walking is a simple, effective way to get moving. On a warm and sunny day, it can be so peaceful and relaxing.

My faith definitely plays a role in everything I’ve done. Though far from perfect, I value my Catholic faith and how God helped me make it this far. Running 26 miles never gets easier, no matter how many times you attempt it, and after a while, you ask yourself why the heck you’re still even moving. I’ve gotten into the habit of crossing that finish line with my arms up and quietly whispering “Thank you, Jesus,” because frankly, there is no other way a person’s body could possibly cover that distance. Through all the mistakes I make, I know He’s there. He’s the reason I can keep getting better and stay as healthy as possible. He wants that for us, not because it makes us look better, but because it makes US better.
Rosie and her tough-lovin' Mom

You can read more from Rosie at her blog, Chasing 200.


  1. Wow wow wow, I hope WW knows about her story - it's awesome!! Good job Rosie!

  2. That is really inspirational and helpful to me. I have never been 'thin' but I have always been comfortable with my body...till about 3 years ago (coincidentally, when I started having babies). For the first time in my life, I know that I am not healthy, and that is a huge concern of mine. After this kid pops out, the plan is to whip it into shape!

  3. Wow, what a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  4. Cool story! Running and getting in shape is my mantra right now, too. Great job, Rosie!!

  5. Rosie, this was BEAUTIFUL! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. You are inspiring me to start running again ;) Miss you!

  6. Rosie you are amazing and inspiring. Thanks so much for sharing your journey, it's beautiful!

  7. Yay Rosie! I think that everyone needs to find what works for them in order to be healthy. Running is what you found and you love it.


  8. Wow! What a great story! Inspiring!

  9. Rosie, thank you so much for sharing your inspiring weight loss journey, and how you've taking up running long-distance races as part of it.(and thanks to Bonnie for hosting)!

  10. Love this! It's just what I needed to hear. Thx for sharing!

  11. Thank you for sharing this amazing and beautiful story!! Take care!