Name: Kayleigh Robertson
Hometown: Sherwood Park, Alberta, Canada
Start Weight: 145 pounds
End Weight: 110 pounds
Time Running: 9 years
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As a teen and young adult, I was self-conscious about my weight. I constantly looked in the mirror and felt unworthy. I was married at 20 to my wonderful husband, Mark, and I ended up putting on a lot of extra pounds on my first year of marriage because of our diet and lifestyle.
Even before that, I struggled with weight. Motivation to workout was never there for me. My negative view of exercise stemmed from experiences in junior high and high school gym classes. Despite putting my best effort in, I always received low grades. Even as I got older and friends would invite me to the gym, I was worried about what others thought of me and I never enjoyed the activities there. I felt like I didn’t belong. I believe that physical activity wasn’t for “someone like me.”
In 2010, I reached my lowest point. I started developing daily gastrointestinal issues—a pins-and-needles sensation in my ribcage. When it became a regular discomfort in my life, I knew I needed to make some kind of change in my diet and lifestyle.
It wasn’t until Christmas 2011 that I was ready to make a change. I had been feeling lousy about myself and sluggish. I was taking selfies with my little cousin during our family gathering. I saw my face and couldn’t believe how I looked. I could see the weight I had put on in the past year. It was time to do something.
I decided to start running in January 2012. Honestly, the reason I chose running was convenience. My husband purchased treadmill a few months prior. I hated running but knew it was an effective way to lose weight. Plus, I had no excuse not to use it. I told myself that I’d use the treadmill every night for the rest of the month.
I remember dragging myself downstairs for my first run. It lasted maybe 10 minutes. Honestly, it was better than I thought. So I continued every night, going downstairs and trying to run a little further every time. And about two months in, I did a 10K, albeit slowly.
Though I initially was insecure about running outside like I was going to the gym, I eventually worked up the courage to run outdoors. There were small goals at first like running around the block once or twice or increasing distances.
It only took a few months for people to start noticing a physical change in me. I got a lot of comments like, “Wow! You look great!” and, “Have you lost weight? I can see it in your face!” These comments were beyond motivating. That motivation, mixed with wanting to see how much further I could push myself distance-wise, kept me going. In the first year, I lost 35 pounds.
In October 2012, about 10 months into my running journey, I ran my very first race: a local 10K. My husband, who’s been so supportive of my running, ran with me. We finished the race in 1:02, which was faster than I thought was possible for me. As I learned, a 10K turned into a half marathon two years later, finishing in 1:54:53.
It kept me going, and I eventually ran my first half-marathon in August 2014, which I finished in 1:54:53. After that half-marathon, I realized I didn’t just tolerate running anymore–I absolutely loved it and it had become a part of who I am. I was a runner.
Running paid off in so many ways, but I also I made some very simple lifestyle changes as well such as cutting out fast food, not eating after 7 p.m., cutting out soda and juice, and eating smaller portions. Those small changes alone made a world of difference, and they were easier to stick to than a fad diet would have been for me. I still allowed myself to enjoy the foods that I loved, but in moderation.
In the years since, I’ve had three pregnancies where I gained 20 to 30 pounds each time. Because of my new lifestyle, I was active throughout each and lost my pregnancy weight within nine to 10 months of each delivery.
With three small kids, I have to be flexible with my running schedule. I usually run three to four days a week, usually in the evenings after the kids go to bed. As a busy mom, running is often my self-care time. Sometimes, it takes creativity, like doing laps in my cul-de-sac. You just make it work.
I’m actually preparing to run through pregnancy again this year as a surrogate for a family member who is unable to have children. I lost my first pregnancy to miscarriage, and since then, I have had a great deal of empathy for women who struggle with pregnancy loss and infertility.
I am excited for the challenge of running through pregnancy again, so that is probably my biggest goal. After it, my goal is to run a marathon in 2022.
Running started as something I wanted to do to lose weight. But over the years, it has become so much more. I learned that I have a strong work ethic, I don’t give up easily, I’m a strong, determined woman, and I actually have some athletic skill in me after all.
I’m capable of so much more than I could have ever dreamed. If you told 21-year-old Kayleigh that at 31 years old, she’s run countless half marathons, ran a 10K at 37 weeks pregnant with her third child, and was in love with running, I honestly would have laughed out loud. But here I am, 10 years later, a completely different person who is confident and comfortable in her own skin.
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This content was originally published here.