As we continue to hear about Mississippi is the fattest state in the union, the media doesn’t see stories like these. Mississippians standing up to the challenge and changing their lifestyle. So glad to have Cristina Curry as a guess this week. She shares how she fought being obese and the turning point she found in running. Enjoy! – Rod
Cristina: From what I can remember, I was in 7th grade and 13 years old when I went on my first “diet.” Of course the dieting nor the weight loss lasted long because I knew nothing about lifestyle changes, calorie counting, calorie burning, or exercise. My limited knowledge of dieting came from Dexatrim and Slimfast commercials.
Little did I know I would battle my weight for nearly two decades after that first attempt at losing weight. Over the years I tried several weight loss programs – Atkins, South Beach, Sugar Busters, low fat, high protein, low sugar, low calorie – and while I lost weight on each program, I was never able to maintain the weight loss for long. I would inevitably go back to my old eating habits and gain the weight back, usually with additional pounds too.
As far as exercise goes, well, I hated it. The most exercise I would do is walk around the neighborhood or occasionally do a 30 minute Leslie Sansone “Walk Away the Pounds” DVD. Anything beyond walking was too strenuous for me because, to be quite frank, I was very lazy.
Now let’s fast forward to January 2009: I was obese, wore a size 18, and weighed over 210 pounds. I was still wearing my maternity pants, even though baby boy #2 (Nathan) was 9 months old. As usual, my New Year’s resolutions were to eat right, exercise, and lose weight. And as usual, I went on a diet. I was somewhat successful with Weight Watchers right after I had baby boy #1 (Matthew) so I decided to try it again. I pulled out all of my old materials and begrudgingly figured out my daily points goal.
A few days later, Nathan and I were playing on the floor in the living room when I decided to go to a gym. Other than a few times in high school and college, I had never really worked out so I was a bit nervous. However, a few of my friends were members of this gym – Premier Lady Fitness — as well so they encouraged me to go. I started out with walking on the treadmill and doing the circuit that was set on the gym floor (like the one at Curves). A friend encouraged me to go to a kickboxing class and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I was sore for nearly a week, but I was hooked on aerobics classes from that point on.
Like most people, I had an image in my head of how I wanted to look. My ultimate goal was to have the stereotypical runner’s body: lean, toned, sleek. After losing about 30 pounds, I decided to give running a try. I went to a local running store called Trails and Treads and got fitted for running shoes. I also found a beginner’s running program online called Couch to 5k aka C25k. And off I went!
My first few tries at running were horrible. I would get terrible side stitches and shin splints by trying to run too fast too soon. I had a very hard time controlling my pace. I couldn’t figure out how to breathe right. I huffed and puffed nearly the whole time I was running and counted the seconds until I could do the walking segments again. It took me several weeks to get past week 5 day 3, the dreaded 20 minute run. I just could not do it. I felt like giving up but I couldn’t get “the image” out of my head, so I stuck with it. I finally “graduated” the program (it took me a bit longer than the 9 week training plan) and ran my first 5k in August 2009, the Bodock 5k in Pontotoc. It was so much fun that I immediately wanted to do another one.
By that point, I had lost around 60 lbs and was near my weight loss goal. However, I hit a plateau and the weight would not budge for several weeks, even though I was doing everything right. After doing some research, it seemed that I was not eating enough calories for my exercise level, which lead me to SparkPeople. I joined the website (it’s free!), used the trackers provided and was able to drop the last 20ish pounds by increasing my calories. Imagine that! And the rest, as they say, is history!
This month marks 3 years that I have maintained an 80lb+ weight loss. I’ve run 2 5k’s, 3 10k’s, 2 half-marathons, and 3 full marathons. As you can see, I’m not much of a racer but I love to run, mainly for my sanity and to wear a particular size in clothing. Oh and to enjoy the occasional sweet treats.
I’ve run into many barriers and bumps along the way. I’ve suffered some running injuries. I still struggle with eating issues, mainly because I still have a huge love affair with food, especially junk food. Even after losing all of the weight, I still have a huge appetite. It’s a constant battle. I track my food intake using the SparkPeople app on my iPhone or else I will overeat. Despite the setbacks and the struggles, it’s all been worth it! I’m a much healthier, happier person as a result. Plus my story has inspired and motivated others to do the same. If I can do it, anyone can!