How Running Changed Me – Kelly Fitzgerald Weight Loss Transformation

Age: 42
Hometown: Lexington, South Carolina
Occupation: Pricing Analyst

Start Weight: 204 pounds
End Weight: 165 pounds
Time Running: 2 years

Before I started running, I spent my time indoors and avoided social gatherings. I was insecure with my weight gain, and I felt it physically and emotionally. I had become my own worst enemy, bashing myself with negative self-talk and discrediting myself before I even took the first step to find a healthier version of me.

When I found myself feeling emotional, I would buy food (fast food or junk food) and eat it before I got home, so no one would know. My daily routine included eating fast food and binge-watching TV after work. When I tried to lose weight, it would never stick; I would lose 10 pounds, then I would stop seeing the scale move and give up on the process. I would gain the 10 pounds back, plus some. At 39, my weight had hit its highest of 204 pounds.

For several years, I would tell myself that I was going to lose weight before I turned 40 years well. Overall, I felt terrible—I had headaches all of the time, and since I was turning 40 soon, I knew my health problems would get worse. I knew that I did not want this to be my future. Well, my 40th birthday came and went on August 18, 2019, and nothing had changed for the better. I was ready to really make the change.

I grew up going to road races. My Dad, who had polio as a child, competed in wheelchair racing, and raced everything from 5Ks to marathons. We traveled all over, from New York to Texas, for him to race, but I never had the desire to run.

Then, more than 25 years later, two friends posted about their running progress on Instagram; one was running at least a mile every day. I reached out to my friend Sara, who was a runner and told her that I wanted to start a Couch-to-5K program. On August 26, 2019, I went to a local track and started Day 1.

My friend offered to meet me when she was available, so we met typically once or twice a week. Running felt terrible, and I wanted to quit. I walked a lot. My knees hurt, and I had bad shin splints. I also have asthma and struggled with my breathing.

I started talking to runners who I knew and asked for advice, and they recommended buying good shoes. I got new shoes and I saw an immediate improvement with my knees. My friend Sara encouraged me to sign up for my first 5K on October 5, 2019. I knew I would not be ready to run the entire course, and I finished with a time of 36:59:09 (11:55 pace). Prior to this my fastest pace was 13:14. The shin splints did not go away, so I went to the doctor and learned my Vitamin D was low. She advised me to use an elliptical and not run regularly for a few weeks. (I haven’t had any issues since then!)

Kelly’s Must-Have Run Gear

Sport2people Running Belt
$12.97 (38% off)

This makes taking my keys and phone along with me on my run easier.

Noxgear Tracer360 Visibility Vest

Staying safe while running is extremely important, and we must alert drivers of our presence on the roads at night. This light-up vest is lightweight and easy to wear.

Mizuno Women’s Wave Rider 24

$102.22 (21% off)

$102.22 (21% off)

These shoes are the perfect fit for me, and they do not hurt my knees. I had no idea what I was looking for in a shoe until I ran in these. I am on my second pair.

Balega Hidden Comfort No-Show Running Socks

These socks stay in place and provide the perfect amount of cushion.

I also re-worked my diet. I started tracking what I ate, because I noticed when I ate badly and tried to run the next day, I didn’t feel good and had terrible heartburn. I cut out soda, tea, junk food, and fast food, and I started preparing my lunches, mainly salads, and made a point to drink half of my body weight in water every day. I used MyFitnessPal to track my food and water intake.

I have learned how important eating habits are, since we truly are what we eat. Previously, I wasn’t strong enough to eat just one piece of chocolate. Now, I can trust myself to not eat the entire bag. I eat more green foods, such as kale and spinach, and I am a huge smoothie fan.

I am still amazed that through all of this, I did not quit. It took me three months to run a mile without walking. When COVID shut the world down, I connected with another friend and asked her to run with me. We ran together for the first time on April 10, 2020. Initially, I disliked her because she pushed me. She was constantly saying, “You can do this, don’t walk, slow down, but keep jogging.” Everything she said was positive.

On May 2, 2020, I ran two miles for the first time without walking, which was a huge milestone for me. My goal at this time was to run a 5K without walking. On May 9, 2020, I ran my first 5K. My Strava title for the run was “5K!!!!! I RAN THE ENTIRE THING!!!!!!!!” 34:02, with an average pace of 10:49/mi. Who is this person? I had become a healthier version of myself. I found a piece of me that was missing.

I ran my first 10K on October 17, 2020, and I am still blown away that I kept up with it. On October 31, 2020, I ran my fastest 5K—27:24:56, with my fastest mile at an 8:53/mi pace. On November 14, 2020, I ran my first official 10K race and placed second in my age division (58:28, 9:25/mi pace). At this point, I was down to 150.6 pounds, and had lost 54 pounds.

On January 29, 2021, I ran a half marathon relay trail race. It was hands down the hardest race yet, I had not trained for the hills and trails. But I could never have done it without the running community. Everyone is cheering for everyone. Everyone waves, makes eye contact, and no one is left behind.

I currently run three times a week with a minimum of 12 miles a week. I had shoulder surgery on April 13, 2021 to deal with lingering issues from a car accident in May 2021, and I gained 15 pounds over a few months after not exercising regularly or eating as healthily. But my doctor cleared me to run again in July 2021, and I am again running regularly. My personal goal is to run a half marathon at least once, and my non-training goal is to maintain my weight loss.

I have lost 54 pounds in 14 months. It is hard, but you will not regret making the decision. The last two years of my life may just be the best two years of my life. I have been able to do things outside of running that I never thought I would be able to do, like demo an entire house for remodeling. I hiked over five miles in the mountains, I ran on vacation, I ran in a gym at a hotel. I can say that I am healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Don’t give up on yourself. Start today, don’t wait. Make small, consistent changes, and share your story.

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