From over 300 pounds to marathon runner – How’d she do it?

Meet Allison – an inspiring success story who continues to push her own limits.  In the past few years she has gone from over 300 pounds to marathon runner, all while raising 3 kids and working a full time job!  Her motto is ‘if you want it bad enough, no excuse will stop you’.  She definitely lives by this!
What got you started on your fitness journey?
A friend suggested we run a 4 mile race together.  We had 8 months to train. I had never run a mile in my life previously.  Never.  I walked the mile in elementary school.  I took PE in 9th grade to avoid taking it in high school.  I needed every minute of those 8 months if I was going to make the 4 mile goal of running.
In what ways has your life changed since you made your fitness a priority?
On the surface, I have a new schedule, new routine, new goals…all the things you would expect.  Deeper down, I’m more fulfilled in my life, happier, healthier (physically & emotionally), more organized and can prioritize better (including emotionally, like what to worry about).
What fitness accomplishments are you most proud of?
Chicago Marathon 2017.  Ran it, made my goal, beat my husband, and didn’t eat Vasoline.
With 3 kids and a full time job, how are you able to maintain your fitness?
Get up early & get it done and have accountability (including a network of people that depend on me and goals to meet)
What would you say to people with the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse? 
Make time.  I used to not have time for fitness either before I had kids.  If you want it bad enough, you’ll make time.  Figure out the things that are important to you – if it’s beer drinking, then make time to go drink beer, but if it’s fitness, then replace beer drinking with fitness.  But, please don’t say you don’t have time.  You have the time, you just chose to use it for other activities.  Own it.
What are some of your current goals? 
Do a real pull-up. Beat my husband in Chicago 2018.
What motivates you to keep going?
Myself.  I’m in this for me.  I became successful when I stopped doing it for other people and did it for me.
What is one adversity you’ve had to overcome in your life (doesn’t have to be fitness) and how did you handle it?
I’ve had plenty of obstacles to overcome – none specific enough to share.  Everyone struggles, even the people that I admire and make it look easy.  I’ve learned this and that it isn’t worth complaining about because the person next to you likely has something just as terrible or even worse.  My struggles may seem terrible to me but when I put them next to friends that have lost children to suicide or tragic accidents leaving spouses disabled, my woes aren’t that bad.  It’s all perspective.  Being skinny or strong doesn’t make life any easier – that person just has what you want on the surface.  And, being skinny or strong doesn’t create happiness.  I used to think it did – it really doesn’t.
What would you say the biggest 3 keys have been to your success?
1. Planning 2. Accountability. 3. Support network of people
If you could put one message on a billboard, what would it be?
Invest in Yourself
What do you do with your free time?
I have 3 kids ranging 2-7 years old.  I don’t have a lot of free time. I’m pretty good at Candy Crush though when I’m in-between their activities.  Otherwise, I like to run early on Saturday mornings and then enjoy a 45 min nap in the afternoon.
Name one hidden talent you have. 
I’m pretty amazing at Ms Pac-Man – the old school one that used to be in Pizza Hut. I’ve only met 1 person that can beat me and I could probably smoke him now.
Name one talent you wish you had.
Sing.  I’m tone deaf according to my husband.
What advice would you have for someone who is struggling to make the changes in their life that they want and need?  
1. Make a plan and make yourself accountable.  If you want to lose weight, plan your calories for the day and only eat what you have planned.  If it isn’t written down, don’t eat it until you write it down.  If you want to get stronger, plan your exercises and have in mind what you’re going to do at the gym before you even get there.  If you don’t plan, you’re going to waffle in space and likely be unsuccessful in the long term.  2. Stop worrying about the future.  Your goals may be large, but they’re going to take awhile to get there.  Stop looking at it like you need to lose 50 or 100 lbs.  Look at the week ahead.  Make a plan for it.  Celebrate when you lose any weight that week. Stop worrying about how you’re going to manage your fitness during vacation that is weeks away.  Worry about today.  And then, when it’s time for vacation, make a plan.  I didn’t start out by running 4 miles at one time.  I ran 30 second intervals followed by 90 seconds of walking and thought I was going to die.  Literally die. I celebrated when I completed my plan for the day (thank you couch-to-5k) and had to stop thinking about the fact that I just struggled at 30 seconds and was going to have to make it to 45+ minutes of running.  I would have never made it otherwise. 3.  Give yourself 6 weeks. It takes about 6 weeks to form a habit.  Give it your honest effort for 6 weeks and then re-evaluate.  If you’ve tried it and you still hate it, then you know that you honestly tried.  I think so many of us half-ass things for a short period of time and then throw in the towel.  Stop putting forth half of your potential. 4. Be happy in whatever you’re doing.  If you’re not being successful at losing weight, then just be happy and accept yourself for you.  Stop wasting your days being overweight & unhappy.  Your weight does not define your happiness.  You do. We spend so many days thinking the glass is half empty when it’s all about our perception.  Find happiness in your life and your goals will find you.

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Clay Henderson

Clay Henderson is a personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist with over 12 years experience. He owns multiple fitness business. He is also a fitness blogger and online trainer and fitness program designer.

  • Michele Lewis says:

    Very inspiring for me as I struggle with planning protein and being accountable at the end of the day. I lose steam. Thank you for your story

    • Clay Henderson says:

      Thanks Michele! It can be hard getting in the protein you need. Your best bet is planning ahead and supplementing with some whey protein.

  • Allison says:

    Thanks for sharing the story Clay. You need to give yourself some credit for all of your hard work and early morning training sessions. Behind this success story is a motivating trainer who keeps his clients accountable for their actions and celebrates their successes, both big & small.

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