Name: Chelsea Romney
Occupation: High school cross-country coach
Hometown: Spanish Fork, Utah
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Start Weight: 237 pounds
End Weight: 137 pounds
Time Running: 30 years
I was a runner growing up, and I loved it. When I was 16, I even had a dream to run the Boston Marathon. Then I got married and had children very young. To cope, I used food to deal with the stress, anxiety, and exhaustion that came with it.
By the time I had my fifth child in 2008, I felt miserable. My weight had gone up to 237 pounds, I had a terrible miscarriage, and not to mention debilitating postpartum depression. When my fifth child arrived, I knew I couldn’t keep going down this road. I needed to lose weight and return to the person I had set aside those years ago.
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The moment this hit me was at a family reunion. I had spent time thinking about how I didn’t even know where to start losing weight. Then, I read my grandmother’s personal history: In 1972, she joined Weight Watchers and got to her goal weight of 137 pounds. It seemed like a sign for me—I was 237 pounds at the time, so if I hit my grandmother’s weight, I would lose exactly 100 pounds.
In June 2008, I set that goal, and I started running again.
I remember those early runs. I definitely started with a run-walk strategy. I remember feeling heavy, slow, and embarrassed, wondering what others thought of me. But when I was done and home, I felt so proud of myself. Also, the half an hour to an hour spent running by myself was also amazing.
As I’ve progressed, I realize I still have some PRs in me. I also put more effort into workouts and more thought into recovery. But I also take pictures if I see something interesting, explore trails, and just enjoy the scenery. At the beginning, I never would have done that, but it’s all a part of the learning process. You learn that you can work and have fun.
While I leaned back into running, I also jumped into Weight Watchers. My diet of fast food, sodium-packed freezer meals, and Häagen Dazs ice cream was not sustainable. Instead, I moved to mostly home-cooked meals, fresh foods, and only the occasional Häagen Dazs.
This helped me lose 62 pounds by August 2009. Then, I got pregnant with my sixth child.
Child number six put a brief hold on things. I paused Weight Watchers, but I was still eating healthier. I also slowed down the running. When I gave birth, I went right back on track with running and Weight Watchers.
This cycle would become routine as I had babies seven and eight in January 2012 and March 2015, respectively. Between each birth, I learned that my body could do more. Right before baby number seven, I ran my first half marathon in May 2011 in a time of 2:09:42 at the Provo City Half Marathon.
During my eighth pregnancy, my body was so conditioned and my weight was healthy (153 pounds) that I was able to run until 32 weeks. After that, I decided to sign up for my first marathon in October 2016. That fall, I finished the St. George Marathon with three of my girlfriends in 3:53:54. That’s when I realized I was 13 minutes away from a Boston Marathon qualifier.
I’d say 2017 was the year I realized my dreams. In March, I finally reached my goal of 100 pounds lost. Three months later, I qualified for Boston with a time of 3:38:26. The Boston Marathon was my dream when I was 16, and I finally did it.
Running is now a huge part of my life. In 2016, I became a high school cross-country coach. My second child, Addison, and I even have a rivalry going at our Thanksgiving turkey trot that’s been going since 2013 when she was 12. That tradition has now spread to the entire family, and we all see who can beat who each year.
Raising eight kids can be tough. Our schedules are unpredictable, so I resort to breaking up my runs. That might mean running twice that day or in the middle of the night, but it’s worth it.
Down so much weight, it just feels amazing to do things like move as I want to and buy the clothes I want. However, it’s more than just losing weight. The emotions that you carry daily—such as disgust, fear of your health, fear of what others think, and fear of your child getting scared in a PlayPlace at McDonald’s and when you climb in you get stuck (that happened)—also go away. It’s freeing.
To anyone who wants to go on a similar journey, my advice is to just go and do it. Take small steps and make big changes over time. It took me more than eight years to lose 100 pounds, but I didn’t quit, and look at all the good that has come from that. Persistence over perfection.
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