Name: Jennifer Torres
Hometown: San Antonia, Texas
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Start Weight: 245 pounds
End Weight: 155 pounds
Time Running: 1 year
My journey began in April 2017. I was 5’5,” and weighed 245 pounds. A lifetime of poor eating habits and sedentary behavior left me overweight, and I was worried that I was becoming diabetic at the age of 34.
My mother and I shared very similar lifestyle habits, which really worried me when she started getting sick from diabetes and heart disease. She had quadruple coronary artery bypass surgery in 2013. For the following two years, she was in and out of acute care facilities, unable to care for herself or her home, and the most basic tasks were very taxing for her. Watching what she went through was eye opening, especially when she died in 2015.
I went to the doctor when I started to worry that I was having some symptoms of pre-diabetes in April 2017. My doctor was very upfront and honest with me, and asked, “Do you want diabetes in two years or in 20?” The answer was obvious.
He said that he had many patients who had success with Weight Watchers, and that if it didn’t work for me after three months, we would consider gastric bypass surgery.
That thought terrified me. I didn’t think I was so obese that I needed to consider surgery, but there it was. Weight Watchers was just outside the doctor’s office, and I joined as soon as I left. Why undergo a procedure for something that may be preventable? I joined online only at first, and as I approached my goal weight, I added meetings to my membership.
It wasn’t easy. I knew that if I tried to change my entire lifestyle at once, it would be overwhelming, and I’d probably quit.
So I started by changing the way I ate. I cleaned out my pantry and fridge, and bought low-fat, high-protein foods. I started planning my meals ahead of time and incorporated more fruits and vegetables into my diet. I bought a food scale and began to weigh and measure the foods I ate. It was really eye opening to see what a serving of shredded cheese looks like.
With just my diet, I lost 25 pounds in three months. But I wanted more. At first, my friend Tiffany encouraged me to join a gym, and I would log time on the treadmill. When the end of the year came, another friend, Robin, approached me about running a 5K. She was an avid runner who did not take no for an answer. My registration for a race of my choosing was my Christmas gift that year, so I picked one.
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When I began running, it was tough and slow. I could only run for 30 seconds at a time, and I walked a lot. At most, I could do two miles. I didn’t really know how to train, and I told Robin that I was going to be last on race day. She said, “So what? Who cares? A mile is a mile. You will finish even if I have to drag you across the finish line.”
Race day came on December 20, 2017. I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I chose a small, maybe 100-person race at night. I was afraid we’d get lost; I was more scared of being last.
But I ran it, and 39 minutes later, I was winded, tired, and thrilled as I crossed the line. It was a rush like I’d never experienced before. I ran the whole way without stopping. That’s right, me, the lady who couldn’t run for more than 30 seconds at a time, finished a 5K.
A year later, I ran my first half marathon. Want to guess who signed me up for that race? Yup, Robin. She was right by my side. I loved the experience so much that I signed up for another half in January.
I am now 36 and weigh 155 pounds. I feel like a whole new person. I have an energy and confidence I never knew was possible. No longer do I feel self conscious when having to walk down the aisle at a movie theater, I don’t have to gauge the space between seats in a crowded room to see if I can fit between them, I don’t have to worry about fitting in a airplane seat, and I can buy clothes and not have to worry about how they will fit.
For anyone going through a similar situation, it will be hard. It will feel like it’s not worth it at times, but I promise you, it is. My husband loves to say, “If it’s important enough to you, you’ll find time.” I’m a mother, a daughter, a wife, and a teacher, and I found time. In fact, I’m better at all of those things when I take just an hour or two for myself.
And once you find your passion, pass it on to others. A friend offered to run with me, even though I was slow and inexperienced. So when someone says they want to do a race, I say “when and where” and plan to run or walk at their pace. Robin taught me that; sometimes that’s the best gift you can give someone—the gift of just being there. Oh, and a cool finisher’s medal doesn’t hurt either.
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