Katie first realized that she was different from the other kids at school when she was in the fourth grade, and a bullying boy started calling her “Shamu” with regards to her weight. This started many years of dieting, only to get heavier and heavier throughout the years. She continued to gain weight through college, marriage, and two pregnancies. Katie hit rock bottom when she discovered she was too obese to help her son learn to ride a bicycle. She was gasping for breath as she tried to run alongside the bike, and her sister had to take over. Katie vowed that when it was her younger son’s turn to learn, she would be the one to teach him.
Katie began to measure out food portions and count calories. She noticed the effect it had on her weight right away, and it was the encouragement she needed to keep going. She even made a bucket list goal to enter a 5K race and RUN it–and she had never even run a single mile in her life at that point. After she lost 60 pounds through diet changes alone, she started training to run a 5K. To her surprise, she picked it up pretty quickly, and she became hooked on running. She didn’t stop with the 5K–she continued on to compete in 10Ks, half-marathons, and even several full marathons.
She continued to count her calories and lost 125 pounds over 16 months. It was the first time in Katie’s life that she was a “normal” weight for her height! It has been six years since that fateful day she tried to teach her son to ride a bike, and she continues to run to help keep the weight off (a never-ending battle). Katie’s story has inspired many people. She’s been featured on Dr. Oz, Today Show and in Women’s World Magazine! She says she feels a million times better, and most importantly to her, she was able to teach her younger son to ride a bike when his time came. This was one of the biggest rewards for her hard work!
Follow Katie’s blog: Runs For Cookies
Meredith realized she needed to lose weight in May, 2005. Pictures from her best friends night-before-the wedding dinner were taken and when she saw them, she wanted to cry. Meredith always knew she needed to lose weight but never realized just how much. She avoided scales and assumed that she was no bigger than the previous time she had lost weight. She lived in baggy clothes and there was always elastic hiding her true size.
When Meredith joined Weight Watchers in September 2005 she was 256 and when she became Lifetime in May of 2010 she was down to her goal weight of 155 lbs. To date, Meredith has lost 101 pounds. Meredith’s weight loss was gradual and although it’s not easy, this is the first time in her life that she has been able to keep it off.
Meredith hit a significant turning point in her weight loss journey. It was November of 2009 when she had realized that over a 42 week span Meredith had gained and lost the same pound. After consulting with her Weight Watcher’s leader and crying through her entire meeting Meredith decided enough was enough and committed to getting serious and upping activity.
That decision is what led to her love of running. She started off by running 1 lap at the rec center. Eventually she would run up to 70 laps! As she was training for her first half marathon in October of 2010 she tore her right hamstring by slipping on a wet piece of tile in her house. That put her running on a stand still for a few months but she never gave up. Meredith got back to running and was determined to do a half marathon the following year. She trained hard and Meredith successfully ran the P.F. Changs half marathon in an impressive finish time of 2:22:01. Meredith continued to run and has gone on to run countless, 5Ks, 10ks, half marathons and has even added a few full marathons to her running resume. Meredith is showing no signs of slowing down!
Meredith continues to work at maintaining weight loss. Her success has even inspired her husband David to join her on her healthy journey. David also began to run and is celebrating his own 100+ weigh loss! Together they eat well and run. They are healthier, happier and excited about their future.
Lealah hit her highest weight of 280 pounds in high school and managed to take 100 pounds off! But typical of many weight loss stories, her weight began to creep back on and she found herself back up to 260. In 2010 Lealah realized she was incredibly unhappy, depressed and angry with the way life was going. She tried anti-depressants but that made things worse. Everything felt overwhelming. She felt trapped and like there was no escape.
Learning that a friend was planning on having lap band surgery made Lealah think, “Hey that sounds like something that could work for me!” She attended seminars, got excited, and dreamed of shedding the weight. Unfortunately, the doctor quickly burst her bubble. She could not have the surgery until she lost some weight. She was instructed to lose 10% of her body weight before they’d perform the surgery.
Lealah’s determination couldn’t be shaken. She started eating better and began walking. In just one month she had lost 20 pounds! She kept going and before she knew it, she had lost more than the 10% required to begin the process of weight loss surgery. It was then she began to consider the repercussions that came with the surgery and thought, “If I can lose this much with diet and exercise then maybe I can go all the way.”
She discovered Sparkpeople.com where she tracked her food and exercise. She also got a membership at the YMCA and started trying new exercises. By May, she had started going to Zumba and loved it! Healthy eating and exercise worked! Surgery was long forgotten.
In June 2011, she decided to try a second shot at running and signed up for her first 5K. Since then, she’s run countless races including 5Ks, a Warrior Dash, 10ks, a 25k, half-marathons, and one full marathon. Currently she’s a Zumba instructor and enjoys incorporating Yoga and Body Pump into her regular workout routine.
After losing 130 pounds and learning how to adapt to a healthy lifestyle, Lealah smiles to herself when she receives weight loss surgery advertisements in the mail, knowing this is one surgery she will never need.
You might remember Ada Wong, runner-up on Season 10 of The Biggest Loser. Ada shared her life-long struggle with weight in front of millions of viewers and began the show at her all-time high weight of 259.
Before going on the Biggest Loser, Ada tried every fad diet in the book. As an Asian American, she felt like she particularly stuck out since there is a stereotype of being rail-thin in her culture. In her 20′s, depressed, lacking confidence and unhappy about missing out on what should be “the time of her life,” Ada decided to take a chance and apply for the show. She felt that getting on the show would be her best chance for success. But, she was ashamed of how much she had gained and the thought of donning the show’s staple weigh-in wardrobe of spandex shorts and sports bra for her friends, family and world to see, enabled her to keep putting off sending in the application. Finally, she decided to give it a shot and reasoned that “letting it all out there, tears and all” was a fair trade off for getting healthy.
She made an audition tape and took the leap. The audition tape made her face the music and she vowed to take off the weight no matter what happened, To her surprise she made it to the show and that kicked off her journey. Through developing new eating habits and intense workouts (including running the fastest female marathon time ever on the show) Ada dropped close to 100 pounds while on the ranch and found her inner athlete!
Since the show, Ada has kept up the good work. She continues to run marathons and has recently completed a full Ironman triathlon. Ada has found confidence and passion she never knew existed. She’s grateful to Biggest Loser for giving her the tools she needed to take it off but it’s her daily perseverance and determination that helps her to maintain a healthy weight.
Andrea struggled with weight most of her life. Her final reality check came when she picked out her usual size 24 jeans and went to try them on; panic set in when she realized that she needed a bigger size. She left the mall depressed and at her all-time highest weight of 280 pounds.
She decided that she could not allow herself to continue down that path and slowly made changes to her diet and exercise by using the Weight Watchers program and walking. She struggled but never quit fighting. She had so many weight loss books from joining and rejoining Weight Watchers. Andrea’s “aha moment” included accepting that her journey would be about patience and persistence and not perfection. A Weight Watcher leader helped her to see that eating and living a healthy lifestyle could be attainable and enjoyable. Her motto became, “Lose it the way you intend to live it.”
In 2011, her hard work paid off and she was invited to be part of the Oprah Weight Loss Finale Show. It was an absolute dream come true for Andrea!
Andrea soon began running. She signed up for a few 5K’s and loved the feeling of race day. Running became a part of her life and since then she’s competed in 10ks, and several half marathons.
As far back as Rik can remember, he had always been fat. He comes from “a long line of fat people and great cooks.” While Rik counts his dad as one of his heroes, Rik also has his father’s genes. For most of his life, he watched his dad struggle with health challenges such as obesity, back trouble, a heart stent, and diabetes. One day, at age 38, weighing 275 pounds, visiting his dad in the hospital after a cardiac episode, it hit home for Rik. Looking at his dad he felt as if he was looking into his own future. Rik was already dealing with high blood pressure and cholesterol, low energy, and the start of sleep apnea. He realized he had to take action.
That’s when Rik met his personal trainer, Myra, the woman who Rik credits with saving his life. His first session was difficult; he was embarrassed that he couldn’t manage even one push-up, and he wanted to give up. But Myra was positive and encouraging, so he kept trying. Rik and Myra worked together weekly for months, and Rik found it getting easier. Each session came with new small successes, which helped build Rik’s self-esteem and confidence.
Six months in, Myra asked him to set a fitness goal. Rik surprised himself with his answer: he wanted to learn to run. Myra coached Rik on the basics of good running form, and even went with him to buy his first pair of running shoes. After about six weeks of working at it together, Rik was able to run a mile without stopping. It made him feel like he could do anything.
Encouraged, Rik quickly set a new goal: to run a 5K. He trained diligently for 3 months. On race day, he was nervous, worried that others at the race might judge him for not being a “real runner.” But he met his goal, running the whole distance without walking. Rik was hooked. He set a new running goal every three months, gradually building up to running his first marathon, 18 months later. About the marathon, Rik says, “It was the hardest thing I had ever done. And the most proud of myself I had ever been.”
Over three years, Rik’s weight dropped by 90 pounds, and his health improved dramatically. His blood pressure dropped 30 points, and his cholesterol dropped 100 points. And he bought an entirely new wardrobe; even his shoes got too big. Rik recalls, “My doctor was amazed. No more medication, no more staying home while everyone else goes out to have fun.”
Now, Rik has set two lifetime goals. He is working to run a marathon in every state. And because he received so much help and support along his journey, he feels strongly about helping others achieve success. As an RRCA-certified distance running coach, he is helping others get off the couch and change their lives, a step at a time. “The person I was before wouldn’t even recognize me now. I know I will never go back,” Rik says, “Now, it’s time to pay it forward.”
Jennifer struggled with her weight her whole life and spent many years in a constant state of feeling unhappy with her size. Jennifer’s life-long dieting started when she first joined a popular dieting program at 18 years old.
Throughout most of her 30′s Jennifer’s weight hovered around 190 pounds. She wasn’t happy but she hadn’t hit rock bottom. She half-heartedly dieted and continued a cycle of losing a pound and gaining back two. Then, she got pregnant. Pregnancy, gave Jennifer a false sense of freedom to eat whatever she wanted. That freedom came with a high price, massive weight gain and gestational diabetes. It was not the party she quite envisioned. After her son was born she was miserable. Her highest weight registered at 255 and everything hurt. It was hard for her to get in and out of her car and flying became a nightmare. She suffered depression and was fearful of a future that might’ve included diabetes, heart disease and cancer, thanks to her poor choices.
Three months later and with only 15 pounds of “baby weight” gone, she decided to give Weight Watchers one last shot. She vowed that no matter what she wouldn’t give up until she got to goal. The first year Jennifer lost 40 pounds, the second, she stalled at just a 7 pound lost. But she didn’t give up.
In early 2010 Jennifer decided to run. Inspired by a self-help book and at seeing her friend Angela complete a race, Jennifer made a bold decision to sign up for a half marathon. This was a completely radical move for her. She was still fifty pounds over-weight, didn’t exercise and had an aversion to running! But that decision changed the course of her life. Armed with a simple training program and a modest blog documenting her journey, Jennifer headed out on her new life as a runner.
During this time, Jennifer had her fair share of difficulties to deal with. She was raising a toddler with autism, lost her home to financial hardship and experienced a loss of a long-held job. Jennifer soon found that running was her saving grace. Not only did running help with her overall health and weight loss but it provided her with much needed, mind-cleansing, “me-time.” Running genuinely helped ease her depression and helped her to keep things in perspective. Things always seemed better after a run.
Ultimately, running helped Jennifer shed a total of 100 pounds and got her to her goal weight. Continually signing up for races and keeping her eye on finish lines has helped Jennifer to maintain most of her weight loss and most importantly allowed her to adopt a healthy, active lifestyle that now comes second nature. Since that first race, she has participated in countless races including 5Ks, 10ks, half marathons, a full marathon, triathlons and a Ragnar Relay Race.
Follow Jennifer’s blog: From Fat To Finish Line
On August 17, 2009, Linda committed to a healthier lifestyle. She ate less unhealthy foods and moved more. A Biggest Loser fan, Linda watched the show for inspiration. After watching the marathon episode her husband Charlie posed a simple question, “Would you ever run a marathon?”
Linda was no where near the physical shape to run a marathon, but the IDEA of running a marathon intrigued her, so she added it to her bucket list.
Once Linda started taking care of herself, she kept thinking about that question. So, after losing about 40 pounds she started going to the local high school track. Charlie would run with her, proudly supporting her endeavor. On June 5, 2010, Linda ran/walked her first 5k.
Linda was hooked and kept on running! She went on to run many more races including 5Ks, 10ks and half marathons. After six years of caring for herself, including a year off from running due to knee surgery and three failed lottery attempts, Linda is finally going to realize her marathon dream. Linda is running the TCS NYC Marathon in November, with her husband Charlie right by her side.
In 2007, at 250+ pounds, Jen considered herself extremely overweight, and felt truly miserable. She was depressed and wanted more for herself; she knew she needed to get healthy. In September, Jen made a plan and a list of goals. She quit drinking and smoking, and started exercising. The first day, she could not walk more than 15 minutes on the treadmill but kept at it. She soon started losing weight slowly. The dark clouds were starting to lift!
Then, after a few months, Jen discovered she was pregnant. That wouldn’t stop her healthy goals; she remained active and healthy through her entire pregnancy. One week after having her daughter Lola, Jen was out walking every day in the warm fall sunshine with renewed vigor, motivated to reach her goals of being healthy and being a positive role model for her daughter.
After fourteen months of healthy eating and consistent exercise, Jen reached her first goal of 100 pounds lost! Jen fell in love with her new healthy and active lifestyle. She began participating in local road races and enjoyed it tremendously! Running became something she loved to do. Jen found that she was capable of more than she’d ever given herself credit for. She placed at several small 5Ks, which it pushed her harder to get even better. Jen’s family would come to each race and it became tradition for her to get a high five from her little girl just after the starting line. Jen continued setting bigger and better goals and reaching each of them.
Soon, Jen was ready to challenge herself with something new, and she did her first sprint triathlon. It was love at first swim/bike/run. She ended up placing second in her age group and could not wait to do more. She has since competed in many triathlons from sprint to “Ironman” distance races.
Jen now shares her love of health and fitness as a personal trainer and triathlon coach and she’s currently obtaining her USA Cycling license and coaching certification.
Allison credits a mismatched sedentary lifestyle and hearty appetite for her lifelong struggle with weight. In school she enjoyed reading, journalism, and theater but shied away from athletics. She tried, and temporarily succeeded at various weight loss programs, but never stuck with one to completion. While running has finally gotten her on track, she’s still on the journey towards her goal weight.
Though her weight fluctuated during her young adult life, by her mid-twenties she’d maintained for a few years. Then she met her future husband and, like many women, found comfort in a new relationship and gained “happy” weight. Allison was soon engaged and, prior to her wedding, was shocked to find all that happiness added up to an all-time high of 262 pounds! She was angry, thinking, “Who gains weight for their wedding?” Every year for years she’d tell herself, “This will be the year that I will lose weight,” but another year would passed and it still hadn’t happened. Allison found a nutritionist who designed a balanced plan and in 3 months she had dropped 35 pounds. As she had several times before, though, she decided to “take a break” and the weight came back.
While planning a trip to Hawaii for her 2nd anniversary, Allison finally snapped. She’d been to Hawaii for her honeymoon and she had been too heavy to take a helicopter tour. She told her husband she’d make sure she was able to take the tour if they ever came back. Now they were going back to the island and she was again too heavy to take the ride. Allison vowed this time she’d succeed in taking the weight off. She started following the Couch to 5K program and signed up for a 5K to keep her motivated.
Though a car accident set her back 2 months, she was undeterred, running while on her trip; she ran her first 5K upon her return, with her family cheering her on.
She continued to run and joined a boot camp class. A wrong move one day left her with a shattered wrist, requiring surgery and 2 months before she was able to run again. Once getting the OK to pull on her sneakers again, Allison went on to run dozens of 5Ks, a 10K, and a half-marathon. She’s currently training to run her first full marathon.
In 2014, she embarked on a whole new adventure, becoming a mom for the first time! She’s working on losing the “baby weight”. She’s learning to balance running while meeting the the needs of a newborn, and she continues to count calories and work towards her finish line!
Carly struggled with her weight since as far back as the fifth grade but really began to pile on the pounds during college and after the birth of her son. Her weight never really was a personal issue for her. She had plenty of friends, went on dates, enjoyed her life and was a generally happy person. However, deep down, she knew that this wasn’t a healthy way to live.
Her final straw was when she received pictures of herself from a wedding she had recently been in. She was embarrassed to be so unhealthy and sick of being too tired to play with her son. She decided to get off the path to an early death and determined to live a healthy life to be around for her son.
She started taking small walks every night, tracking her calories and eating healthier by using SparkPeople.com. She needed something to give her extra motivation to up activity so she started the Couch to 5k running program and immediately signed up for her first 5k. On the day of her first run of the program, she weighed 349 pounds. It took 3 weeks to get past Week 1 of the program, and by the time of her 5k she (very slowly) ran the entire race at 330 pounds.
Since that first 5K she has run many races, including several half marathons. She is down over 100 pounds.
Carly continues her weight loss journey and is training for her first full marathon this fall.
John was a skinny kid and a skinny young adult. In fact, his metabolism was so fast that upon joining the Marines at 18, he almost had to go on double rations just to “fatten up” a bit. For those four years in the Marines he ate tons of calories and drank a lot of alcohol. Thanks to non-stop Marine training and that turbo-charged metabolism, he rarely gained an ounce. Once out of the military, however, he no longer trained like a Marine but still kept up his high-calorie eating habits. Over the years, the weight crept on and by his mid-thirties he could no longer pretend there wasn’t a weight issue. But he lacked the discipline and motivation to take it off.
In 2005, his best friend, Brenda (herself a competitive athlete), signed him up for a surprise 5K and he finished it. This helped kick off a short-lived healthy path, but in 2007 he was diagnosed with Pertussis (an adult version of whooping cough) that left him unable to move and workout for more than 100 days. This set John back and for the next few years he ate and drank his way to his heaviest weight ever. Then he attended his Marine Corps reunion in June 2010. Seeing his former Marine brothers and sisters awakened something in him. It had been 20 years since he had last seen many of them, but they didn’t make him feel bad about his weight gain. Instead, they reminded him of the person he once was. They made him feel once again like the funny, fearless, passionate-about-life guy he was down deep inside. That reunion inspired him to take control of his weight and his life.
John became actively involved with SparkPeople and created a short-term challenge. He would “be perfect” (meaning no fast food, alcohol, desserts, eating out, etc) and work out every day until he lowered his weight to less than 200 pounds. He knew he couldn’t sustain that plan forever but could commit to it for the 20+ pounds he needed to shed to get to this first goal.
It worked. He went from riding the stationary bike to the elliptical to the treadmill, then began running on the streets of San Diego. He found his rhythm by sticking to the basics: Eat Healthy, Be Active, Repeat Consistently
He signed up for a half-marathon six months in the future and made the commitment to train and prepare for it. He bravely signed up for obstacle races and even a relay. He was on his way.
Since then, John has run multiple 5Ks, 10Ks, half marathons, a Tough Mudder, a Super Spartan, multiple Ragnar Relays and six full marathons.
John has had his battles and is currently on a path to losing some weight he’s regained. He has learned to focus on health and physical accomplishments rather than being obsessive about the scale.