Then I met my husband. And he told me that he would never marry a smoker. So I cut down, and tried to quit, but he did end up marrying a smoker. I didn't think I would ever be able to kick it. But in February 2006 I quit for good. And I thought, "I'll get healthy! I'll get my lungs back in working condition! I'll take care of my heart! Look at all the nice, good things I have to live for!" I said all these things, but I didn't really do anything about it. I mean, I guess I quit smoking and hoped the rest would take care of itself.
Then my husband and I bought road bikes. And I started biking to work. I loved it. I loved the fact that I was getting some exercise, but not really having to take time out of my day to do it. I was still a huge wimp, and didn't bike more than 15 or so miles. Ever. And hills? No thank you.
Then I got pregnant. And eating good things became a priority, because I was solely responsible for the health of a completely dependent life. Well, eating mostly good things. And a lot of ice cream, if I'm being perfectly honest. And that ice cream, it stuck around. My final weigh-in at the hospital was 199 pounds before my progeny was ejected.
Then I had a newborn. And I was 180 pounds of flesh and bone. I didn't like it. I didn't feel healthy. I felt slow and frumpy. Don't get me wrong - I was very happy to be a new mommy and grow into my new job as stay-at-home-everything. But I had never had weight concerns before. I was not healthy, and I didn't know exactly what to do with myself. I think I got a little depressed.
Then Maggie started her Hot by Thirty campaign. And I got on board. It was good incentive to eat a little bit smarter. I stopped buying processed food at the grocery store, I started paying more attention to my portions. And a little of that weight came off.
Then I bought a running stroller and started the Couch to 5k program. And I liked it. When I quit smoking, I made what seemed like an unattainable goal: to run a 5k with my husband. Someday. That someday was April of 2009. I had to walk up the big hill in the middle of the race, and I finished in a little more than 34 minutes. I was awfully disappointed. I like being good at things, and running was never one of them.
Then I ran another 5k a month later on Mother's Day 2009 with Lucy in the stroller and finished in 33 minutes. And I didn't have to walk any part of it. That was better. I was more confident. I was starting to understand how to take better care of my body. I learned that eating right is fine and dandy, but the exercise is what my body responds to as far as weight loss. By the time my thirtieth birthday rolled around, I had lost twenty of those pounds.
Then, at some point, I started thinking differently about running. And it became something else entirely. It became quiet time. It became one thing that I could do for myself, and by doing it for myself, I was helping my family. (Bonus.) It became something that I could be proud of myself for that wasn't attached to any body else. I could meet my goals and I could congratulate myself, and I could make new goals.
Then I started pushing myself. And it was sort of exciting. I started thinking, "Well, if I can run 3 miles, why couldn't I run 4? Or 5? Maybe my next goal should be a 10k." And I kept running. I got my first runner's injury, shin splints, and I took care of them. I got new shoes and really nice running stuff because all of a sudden, it made sense to have some quality gear.
Then I signed up for a half marathon. And I started training. In my head, this was the ultimate in There's No Way This Will Ever Be Possible. Even more than that first 5k. This was the Unattainable. I started thinking about eating to give myself good energy, and I started running almost every single day. My long runs on the weekend got longer and longer - from 4 to 6 to 10. And more. And more. And my body could do it.
Then during my training, 12 more pounds melted away. And I fit in all of my old clothes. My pre-Lucy weight (which was already on the heavy side) was 16 pounds ago, and I'm only a few pounds away from my wedding weight.
Then I turned 31. And I ran that half marathon. I did better than I expected to do. I knew my body was ready for it, but I did absolutely not want to feel disappointed in myself like with that first 5k. So I set a goal time of 2:40:00, with the caveat that I would concentrate on running 11ish mile splits (so focusing on finishing closer to 2:30:00). At mile 10.5, the Bubba and Lucy were there clapping and waving. I had to concentrate for the next two or so miles on not crying, I was so overwhelmed with emotions. So proud of myself for coming this far, for feeling so good, for not giving up on myself. So pleased that I could be a mother and wife that my family could be proud of, that they could come and cheer on and share the victory. I picked up my pace and gave the last half mile everything that I had. I crossed the finish line in 2:22:03, and my Bubba and my Lucy were there to give me hugs and high-fives.
I feel like such a winner.