I was one of the lucky ones….
Cholesterol was fine, blood pressure was fine, blood sugar was fine. But fine isn’t good or healthy. All were high, but I wasn’t in the danger zone. The only thing wrong with me was that I was 29 and morbidly obese. Something had to change, and as Michael Jackson said, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.”
My family and I have always struggled with our weight for as long as I can remember. I was always the big girl to all of my friends growing up. I remember one night in Girl Scouts, someone read on a cartoon paper cup, that in order to make yourself feel skinny, sit next to someone bigger than you. It was an image of Garfield the cat next to an elephant, but my friend thought it would be funny to come and sit by me. In first grade, my nickname was Jelly Belly. I never went home and cried about it, but the teasing gave me a tough exterior and I developed an attitude that I wasn’t going to let people get to me.
For every person who teased me, I had at least 5 people cheering me on. I remember in middle school P.E, running the mile was the worst day ever. Several times I would cheat and only do three laps on the track because I didn’t want to finish last. But one day, I decided I wouldn’t cheat myself anymore and I decided to go all four. It took a long time and there came a point where it was me and one other girl – the OTHER big girl in the class. She never liked me and had been mean to me from the first day of school for no reason, and would constantly torment me. I was determined to finish before her. As we were finishing the last lap, I realized that if I started jogging, I could catch up to her. I ran a little and walked a little, and closed the gap. Then, out of nowhere, two of my buddies joined me (one of whom had been the one to dub me Jelly Belly back in first grade!) to help me finish. With encouraging words like, “Come on, Meg! You can beat her!” and “You got this! You WILL finish!” I was able to push harder than I had ever done in the past and run past that bully and finish the mile before she did.
I thought of those two friends when I started competitive races back in 2008. I worked for an organization that was a major sponsor of the PF Chang’s Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon in Phoenix and they were offering free entries into the races to staff. 13.1 miles? For free? Why not? I decided I would give it a try. I started training and even did a 5k to support breast cancer and a 10k to fight childhood obesity in the months leading up to the race. At both events, I had friends and family cheering me on. When the big day came, I would be ready. I would be turning 30 soon and wanted to get healthy before that monumental birthday.
When the day finally arrived for my first half marathon, everyone wanted to know what my goal time was. Hell, I just wanted to cross the finish line on my own two feet and not end up on a stretcher! When the whistle blew, and I crossed the start line, my adrenaline was pumping and I started walking. Working my way through the mass of people was exciting, and there were even times when I could run. It was great. I passed the first 5k check point and realized I had beaten my fastest 5k time. The same thing happened at the 10k marker. This was great! As the race went on, people were dropping out because they rested and couldn’t get back moving. My solution – DON’T STOP! And with the exception of a 30-second potty break in the men’s room at a Jack in the Box, I didn’t. I finished my first half marathon in four hours, ten minutes, and thirty-six seconds – at 275 lbs. I crossed the finish line and burst into tears. I couldn’t believe I had done it – the BIG GIRL did it! I could only imagine what I could do it I just lost the weight!
I tried to get serious about my diet from that point on. I was determined to one day run a marathon. I was filled with all this determination and motivation. My parents had signed up with program and had been very successful. They offered to help me do the same – or any program I wanted to – was always on the table. It took me some time, and a failed audition for the Biggest Loser, but on November 23, 2009, I signed up for my own program. I’ve lost 75lbs to date and I’ve kept it off for over a year!
Everyday I make a commitment to myself to be healthy and live healthy. I’m an event planner and avid networker, so I’m constantly putting myself in situations where I need to be disciplined. Some days are easier than others, but my key to success is never beating myself up for too long, and to make a commitment to do a better job the next time I’m faced with the same challenges. My 30th birthday has come and gone. While I hadn’t finished my journey, I was able to celebrate this major milestone with an amazing first step. Plus, the indoor trampoline dodge ball was a LOT easier with a chunk of weight gone! I do about four competitive races a year now. I finished my fourth half marathon 75lbs lighter and 45minutes faster than my first!
I have been very blessed to have so many people support me on this journey. From my boyfriend who helps me make healthy choices everyday, to the buddies from middle school who have found me on Facebook and still share words of encouragement, I don’t let the bullies get to me anymore. I don’t have time to! I’m too busy walking the pounds off or in my cross training: Jazzercise! Yes, I love the spastic craze of the 1980’s! I love walking into the studio and feeling the love and energy from these amazing women. They have been so supportive and help keep me motivated on my journey.
I’m not sure what my final weight will be. It’s not a numbers game – it’s a feeling that I will get when I know that the true Meghan is staring back at me in that mirror saying, “You did it!”
To get more information on the program that has help me, my family, and millions of other Americans get healthy, please click here.
Last updated January 2012