8 years ago, at 30 years of age, I had the experience of hearing my doctor tell me I was obese; a term I had no idea until that moment, applied to the condition I was in. I knew I was hurting. I knew when I walked up a flight of stairs I was out of breath and sweating, I knew that I didn’t feel well most of the time, and I knew that I hated myself and my body. But, I didn’t know how out of control that I was until that moment, even though the scale read 320 pounds.
What leads someone to be obese at age 30, you might wonder? For me, it was a number of things. The biggest thing for me personally was living a life of emotional and mental abuse from being raised by an alcoholic mother. Believing that I was unworthy of love, happiness, and a good life was all I knew to be true. Food was my go-to antidote for all the pain I had and was enduring.
And so as I began my weight loss journey that very day I visited my doctor, I began seeing that losing weight and making healthy choices for myself had a whole lot more to do with believing I was worthy of good health more than it had to do with losing pounds and inches.
Through my journey and weight loss of 152 pounds (all through diet and exercise), I discovered running. It wasn’t until I had lost the weight and kept it off that I began working through the emotional baggage that I was carrying with me.
Running was hard. It was painful. Running turned out to be the exact catalyst I needed to work through the feelings, thoughts, and untruths I had carried my entire life. Running was showing me who I was and erasing who I wasn’t.
I hated it and yet I knew it was making me new.
Through encouragement from the manager at the local gym I belonged to, I entered my first 5k race in September of 2009. I was terrified.
What if I was last? What if people were judging me by the way my loose skin flopped under my clothing or the way my shorts rode up as I moved along? What if I looked like I didn’t belong? What if I couldn’t finish? I showed up at the start line and I silenced those fears. I showed up and I ran with everything I had. It was terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. About 2/3 of the way into the race, a woman next to me on the course asked me if it was my first race, and then shared with me that it was hers as well and suggested we tough out the rest of the run together. That day I learned not only that I was able, but that I wasn’t alone... I learned that we are all the same in our struggles. This was a life changing moment for me.
I began racing every weekend and began running longer and longer distances.
And then I ran a half marathon. Then I ran 12 more halves.
Along the way, I began making friends that shared my passion for running, and I began reaching others that didn’t think they could run but discovered what I did, that they too were runners. I signed up and ran my first marathon in Chicago on 10-10-10. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, and I felt so blessed and fortunate to have been brave enough to even get to the start line and even more so to cross the finish line!
I have run many races since that day including 4 more marathons, one of which I ran my personal best- (a 24 minute pr!) a week ago in St. Louis. The Springfield Bass Pro marathon will be my 6th and I will be running it with my best friend by my side. I thank God every day that I have the will and ability to do this and I cannot wait to cross the finish line.
Editor's Note: Carrie Russell ran the Bass Pro Conservation Marathon on Sunday November 4th, 2012. KY3 is asking for your fitness stories. If you have one, send it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.