We always love reading peoples inspiring stories at Run Like A Girl. I asked LeTia to share her amazing transformation story with us and she was thankful to be able to share it as it really gave her a chance to reflect on how much she has accomplished in two years. Here is her story:
Growing up I was always a larger girl but athletic. I played sports and was active but growing up 40 years ago, not a lot of attention was given to eating properly and nutritiously except the food pyramid. In 1998 I was in the police academy and got injured. It required a ACL repair and a portion of my medial meniscus removed. Years later I had the remainder of my medial meniscus removed and is now bone on bone with the addition of arthritis of an 80 year old in my knee (requires a knew replacement but I will wait). As time went on, I used my injury as an excuse to not be active and gradually my weight got heavier. I remember looking at the scale one day and it read 255 and after that, I stopped getting on it. I did nothing to try to remedy the situation; just felt sorry for myself so kept eating crappy. , like most people, used food at comfort. In mid 2012 I was having some personal issues and like most people, felt like my life and world were spinning out of control. I needed to feel like I was in control of something and that is when the change started.
A friend of mine had done an awesome job and changing her life style and she wanted to become a personal trainer so I asked her to help me out. I didn’t know what I was doing but she obviously knew something because she had dropped a ton of weight and looked awesome. We talked a couple of times and we came to an agreement. We would meet once a week to have her give me the following weeks workouts and to take a look at my eating via My Fitness Pal. She showed me a flyer of a “run” that was coming up in about a month and asked if I would be interested. I said why not! At the age of 39 on August 1, 2012 I took my first steps on not only my running journey but the new me. I believe we started at 230 pounds and a size 26/28 pants and XL shirt.
I trained 6 days a week and ran my first 5k on September 1, 2012. What an awesome feeling that was! I had trained using the run/walk method but we ran the whole 3.1 miles. My trainer then asked what about a 10k in November? Of course I said why not. When I started looking at the training schedule I saw miles and not times and I freaked. 5.5 miles I had to run non stop and at one time? Who in their right mind thought I could do this? Today I chuckle at this memory as I have quickly turned into an ultra runner.
I quickly learned that eating better was the majority of how I was going to do this. She helped me to learn to shop the outside of a store and try to stay away from processed foods. I eventually switched to a Paleo diet and felt awesome. We kind of fizzled out when I no longer needed her help as I had the jist of things. She also chose to go the CrossFit route and me, well I chose the running route. I fell in love with running!
A few days after the Boston Marathon in April 2013 I broke my ankle (no I didn’t run it but I sure watched it). I was out on a trail training run and fell. I had to crawl and walk the last .25 miles back to my car and then drive my stick shift home as I didn’t have cell service where I was. I thought it was the end of the world. My absolute first thought was OMG, I’m going to gain all the weight back I’ve worked so hard to loose. 40 years I spent not really living life to the fullest and making excuses to not do things and now I’m going back there. My friend/trainer (she is and always will be my friend first) calmed me down and said here’s what we are going to do. I had been fighting her for months about strength training and now she said was the time to start hitting it hard. She also said to just be more careful with my eating as I won’t be burning as many calories when I strength train. I was in a boot and unable to do cardio at all but my MD said strength training was fine as long as I was careful.
With the help up my lovely boyfriend who used to be a body builder, we started hitting the weights. I didn’t like it and fought it the whole time even though I knew I needed it. When I was able, I added swimming into my regiment as cardio to help me out. Then I turned into the tri athlete! Okay maybe not but I did train and complete 1 mini tri distance and realized it wasn’t for me. I got down to 148 pounds and a size 6/8 and a body fat % of 20% if I remember correctly. For 3 months I suffered with no running (that I would admit to my MD or PT). I did run a couple of 5k’s during that time and took 1st in my age division on a trail 5k. I DO NOT recommend this to anyone. I was not smart to do this!
When I got cleared to run I was like a crazy person. My PT said start with 1 slow mile…I did 6.2. I mentally needed to know I didn’t loose anything. It was the very next day after getting cleared to run again, in July 2013, that I started training for the Inaugural Dopey Challenge. For me, I prefer to do the hardest things I can find so most would say. I had never ran a 1/2 or a full when I signed up for this but here I was running 4 distances on 4 back to back days and 2 of those were going to be firsts for me. I decided to run my first 1/2 before then and of course, chose a difficult trail 1/2 to run. It was with my favorite trail company so why not. In September 2013 I knocked out my first official 1/2. I had been running a year (or less if you take out the 3 months I missed) and I felt unstoppable. People began telling me what an inspiration I was and wanted help with their eating, training, running etc. I started a separate FB page in 2013 that I could post my running stuff and what not because actually, some people defriended me from my personal FB page because of my running. I lost friends because of my changes and I was no longer fun so they said.
January 2014 rolled around and off we went to Disney World for Dopey. Of course everyone thought I was insane for doing Dopey BUT also for doing a marathon. None of the people I knew had ever run that distance nor wanted to. I am always super nervous at events where I had never done the distance. When I toed the line for the 5k, 10k and 1/2 I was a little nervous because of this crazy feat I was embarking on. When the day of the marathon came, I was calm and in a strange way, peaceful. I am not a fast twitch muscle fiber type of girl. I am a slow twitch, distance person so I have no problems pacing myself. In my mind I broke this race up into 3 parts…10 miles, 10 miles and 10k. As I knocked off each and every one of those I was overcome with emotions. Running the same finish the past 3 days I knew when I was close. Less then .5 mile from the finish I saw my boyfriend standing there, inside Epcot, with my traditional green tea after run drink in hand. He had the look of…joy…on his face as he knew it was almost over. I pretty much lost it from that point and the crying began. Not only did I just finish my first marathon, I had just finished the Dopey Challenge! My race photo crossing the finish line is still my favorite. Some random girl came over to me and said, “your first marathon finish huh?” I could only shake my head yes and she just hugged me. She said it is an amazing finish and I deserved it and to enjoy.
I savored that moment until I knocked out my first 50k, a trail one, 5 weeks later followed with the LA Marathon, Big Sur 21 miler and another marathon 5 days after Big Sur. At the end of May I completed my 2nd ultra for the year. From there however things started to fizzle. I knew I wanted to still help people so I went back to school. I became a certified Personal Trainer with a specialty in youth and senior fitness. I became a RRCA certified running coach and am finishing my fitness nutrition certification. I started my own business and am slowly doing what I enjoy.
In 2013 I was racing pretty much every single weekend and some weekends both days. After the first half of 2014 I was done! Physically, emotionally and mentally I was done. When I started analyzing my life from August 1, 2012 until then, I realized I hadn’t stopped training in almost 2 years. My body was tired, my mind was tired and I was tired. I stopped. At this point, I just stopped. I stopped working out, running, biking, swimming, eating right…I just stopped everything. The past year or so I had spent so much time trying to figure out how to do things right, what to eat, working out, trying to figure out all there is to know about running etc that I wanted a break. I needed to learn the lesson on balance. That it is okay to still eat what I want when I want just in moderation. I needed to know it was okay to miss a planned workout or have an extra rest day. I needed to mentally get back to wanting to do these things. Time is all I had.
I missed several races I had scheduled the last half of 2014 and guess what? I gained weight. But you know what? I am okay with that. I have learned a lot in the past few months and I enjoyed myself. I know that I spent close to 40 years developing bad habits, making poor eating choices and living unhealthy. I know changes will not occur over night nor will I ever not struggle with my weight. I know that I will have to always be active and eat more healthy because it is to easy for me to gain my weight back…and quickly! I know I will sometimes revert to bad habits but I also know I won’t beat myself up about it. I will acknowledge my choice as being inconsistent with my healthy lifestyle, acknowledge why I did and move on. Cannot undo things you have already done.
I am a normal person with up and downs, ebb and flows and will always be that way. I am not an expert nor an elite athlete but I am someone who has learned more in the past 2 years about myself and being healthy and that is the key to my success.
Today, I no longer own a scale. I know when I have gained weight when my clothes are snugger. I don’t deny myself anything. I do think about an unhealthy choice and consciously make that choice if I want. Today I once again enjoy running and strength training (I learned to like it). I lost that love last year and didn’t think I would get it back. Time off fixed that. I am training for a few events this year and will now limit my BIG events to 2-3 per year.