Sometimes, in life, you run across someone who inspires you. My blog subject for today’s blog is just such a person. She has transformed her life and her body with hard physical work, support from friends and what she calls, determination for the sake of vanity. Whatever her reasons and motivation, I wanted to hear what it was that kept her committed, determined and successful. Turns out, she is a showcase for what is possible when you put your mind to something, no matter how hard it seems or how overwhelming it is.
Andria, who has lost over 100 pounds, is a mother of five who lives in a suburb of Austin, Texas. She is a runner and she began running, originally, to lose weight. She now runs half marathons and other distance runs with her running community, who have helped to support her through this journey. She has a “maybe” goal of running a full marathon within the next year.
She is, in a word, an inspiration.
I had the chance to ask her a few questions since I wanted the chance to inspire all of you, with her story.
The next time you feel like skipping the gym or giving up, think of Andria.
What do you think was the tipping point; the true catalyst that made you change your lifestyle and stick with it. I know it’s hard, so it takes true commitment to really succeed.
I didn’t battle my weight until my 3rd child was born…at that point, I was over 200lbs and just continued to gain. I tried every fad diet, pill, fake promise, gained, lost, gained, gained, and gained. As much as I wanted to lose the weight, I just couldn’t commit, I guess I had just given up.
When my 5th child was 6 months old, I wasn’t feeling well– was run down, dizzy, tired, and just felt crummy. I was close to 300lbs at that point…even walking through Target was a struggle. I finally decided to go see my doctor who ran standard blood tests…
That afternoon I received a call that my blood sugar was out of control, I had developed type 2 diabetes, my liver and ferratin levels were toxic, and I needed to have an ultrasound the next morning. My doc wouldn’t really tell me what was going on, but, I later found out she was screening me for pancreatic, liver, stomach, and kidney cancer, as well as cirrhosis, hepatitis, and other metabolic diseases. Because my levels were so high, there was a major concern that something more serious was going on.
After spending a week as a human pin cushion and completely terrified, my doc sat me down and gave me the bottom line: my weight was going to kill me. She handed me a card for a bariatric surgeon and suggested I schedule a consultation. I got as far as calling to make an appt….then I decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I put the weight on alone, I could take the weight off alone.
I called my doctor and asked her to give me a year, that I could lose the weight without surgery. She hesitantly agreed ONLY if I would continue to get blood draws every few months to keep track of my levels. I probably spent $100 on diabetic cookbooks, threw all the processed crap out of my house, and downloaded the Couch to 5K app on my phone. I wasn’t going to die because of something I had 100% control over. Truth be told, the catalyst was having the crap scared out of me.
Rewind 5-10 years. If someone said you’d run a half marathon then, would you have believed them? What do you think held you back, mentally, made you think you couldn’t do something like that?
I’m a musician, a writer, a dreamer, a creator, and so NOT an athlete! I was the kid that was picked last because I was so clumsy and lacked any sort of coordination. I replaced my physical fitness credits in high school with marching band…the only way I would run is if something was chasing me, and I tried to avoid those situations.
Running wasn’t even on my radar 5-10 years ago! I just never saw myself as someone who could succeed athletically, run races, or get hooked on the gym. Being naturally thin all my life, I never thought my 20s and 30s would be so cruel to my metabolism!
What keeps you committed; stops you from going back, taking the easy road? I know we all have reasons.
One word: vanity.
I wish I could give some amazing, deep, philosophical answer, but in all honesty, I like being thinner. I enjoy walking into a store and not being treated like bovine. I no longer have to dig to the bottom of clothing stacks or the back of the racks to find my size. I can walk into any store and find something that will fit AND look good. It’s liberating to have an entire, fashionable, wardrobe at my disposal.
What has been your proudest moment in this journey?
When I crossed the finish line of my first 5K. I was still 230lbs, it was hot, humid, and there were so many people. I wanted to quit many times during those 3.1 short miles—but when I crossed that line, that’s when I realized what I was truly capable of physically and mentally, nothing was going to stop me.
I did that, no one else, and I kicked it’s ass. I’ve run 4 half marathons since then and as proud as I am every time I finish one, nothing will compare to that very first race.
Is there anything you read, heard someone say… that really spoke to you and had an impact on your decision to get serious?
I had an acquaintance who was so negative about weight loss; basically stating that someone who is significantly overweight can’t do it on their own and keep it off unless they have surgery. I guess it pissed me off enough keep me motivated, to keep me going, forced me to stay on track. Without them knowing, they made me want to prove them wrong, break that stereotype.
I started my journey in July of 2012, I haven’t gained a single pound back…I’ve plateaued, the weight loss has slowed, but I haven’t gained anything back.
Did you have any resistance from family and friends?
I remember when I told a family member that I was running a 5k, he laughed and said “there’s no way you can do that, not unless someone picks your fat ass up halfway and drives you to the finish line.”
It’s funny, he’s now one of my biggest supporters, but that sentence still drives me to the finish line-whether I’m running 2 miles or 14. No one has had to pick my fat ass up yet!
Sadly, my new lifestyle has also led to the demise of my marriage. It has taken a lot of commitment and time to lose the weight and when I joined my running group, it rubbed my husband the wrong way…he didn’t like that my life took me outside the home so often. Although he never made me choose between him and my health, I sometimes think that he was happier when I was 300lbs. As the tension grew, our relationship started to unravel; it’s unfortunate, but, if he can’t stand by me and support me, then maybe it’s for the best.
How did you cope with the unintended consequences?
I’m still trying to cope. Of course I didn’t want my marriage to fall apart, but, I also don’t want to die, where’s the line?
As for any other negativity, I let the haters be my motivators, ha!
What’s your favorite part of the new lifestyle?
The friends I have made along this journey. I moved to Austin 6 years ago, leaving behind my extended family and friends. I never thought I would build the amazing support system I have now. My running group has become my Austin family and my best friends. They have surrounded me in my darkest moments and cheered me on in my highest moments. Every time that voice of self-doubt comes into play, they are there to keep pushing me. I can’t imagine my life without them.
Do you think this will impact your children’s future? In what way do you hope it does?
My kids saw me go from the brink of despair to the finish line. They witnessed me save my own life by taking control. I want my kids to know that they can achieve ANYTHING they put their minds towards. As a family we make good food choices, understand that our bodies need to be fueled with good foods and not processed junk.
We only have one life and one body, take care of it, make positive choices, exercise, eat well, and most of all, love yourself.