Name: Perry Booker Jr.
Occupation: Claims Representative
Hometown: Manchester, Connecticut
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Start Weight: 285 pounds
End Weight: 197 pounds
Time Running: 4 1/2 years
Growing up, I was an active person. I played many sports all the way through college, but when I graduated, I stopped. That’s when I noticed my weight going up, and I felt uncomfortable in my own skin.
Not only was I inactive, but I was also eating more. Whether I was sad or angry or stressed, eating made it easier to deal with these emotions. Over the years, I dealt with the stress of becoming a parent and losing my job while trying to support my family. The weight added up, and at my peak, I weighed 285 pounds.
I noticed that I would get out of breath while going up stairs, and I couldn’t keep up with a growing toddler. The final straw, for me, came in December 2016. After a vacation, I felt sluggish, and my knees ached. The last time I had weighed myself, I was 260 pounds. When I saw 285 after vacation, I was shocked. I’m only 5-foot-7, and being close to 300 pounds scared me. It was time for a change.
In January 2017, I started running. Unlike other aspects of my life, I could control my running. I set my pace and distance, and I could do it on my time. I also recognized it as a way people often lost weight.
The struggle was real at first. I was sore after every run, but I forced myself to get out there four to five days a week at my pace, without any apps and training plans. I just wanted to get out and move without being told when I had to stop or start.
After a few months, I wanted to increase my running skills, so I decided to sign up for a race and dedicate myself to a training plan. Later in 2017, I was able to complete the Glastonbury 5K in Glastonbury, Connecticut, and the popular Manchester Road Race in Manchester, Connecticut. I’ve since graduated to 10Ks.
Along with adding exercise into my routine, I also changed my eating habits. Prior to my weight-loss journey, I ate a lot of fast food, fried dinner, and big portions until I was stuffed.
It took time, but I slowly worked on making small changes that turned into big changes. For instance, I am still working my way to being 100-percent vegetarian; I have to admit, having wings while watching football on Sundays is still a guilty pleasure. But I also found new favorite meals like meatless meatballs, jasmine rice, and honey sriracha Brussels sprouts.
Additionally, I’ve also focused on watching my portion sizes so I don’t overeat. Now I feel less lethargic and more energized, which means I can play with my child more and not feel fatigued.
Four years of dedication has brought me down 87 pounds and kept me there. I’ve shrunk as a person and grown as a runner. My current goal is running every day, no matter the distance, for an entire year. Currently, I am over 150 days in, running six miles at most each run.
This is a special goal for me because I attempted it twice last year. Injuries and poor stretching routines held me back then, so I won’t let it stop me now.
My advice to anyone who wants to go on a similar journey is to find your why. I didn’t want to feel out of shape anymore. I wanted to play with my son and fit into clothes. Once I determined this is what I wanted, it was easier to make the changes. Having a ‘why’ is an important factor to be able to make it through your journey.
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