Happy Tuesday, everyone! Today we have a guest post by an amazing gal, Jen Sorenson from A Quilting Jewel who we’ve gotten to know through our Joyful Miles Running Club Facebook group. I’m touched and inspired by her journey to happiness and know you will be, too, so thanks for sharing, Jenn!
And YES. The words “just” and “only” need to be removed from a runner’s vocabulary. Read on to find out why!
Weight Loss through Happiness and Running
by Jenn Sorenson
I remember it like it was yesterday.
September 5, 2012. I was sitting on my couch trying to comprehend everything that had happened over the past day, week, month, and year. I had just come back from my uncle’s funeral that morning after his sudden bout with cancer to have my husband tell me he was leaving, filing for divorce and there was nothing I could do about it.
Yes. The very same day.
The past year had taken its toll on us. Failed fertility treatment after failed treatment post a PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) diagnosis was draining. Looking around, I had no idea what I was going to do next.
I have always struggled with my weight and managed to stay relatively healthy growing up through sports – primarily softball and gymnastics/cheerleading. But once I got into the workforce after college, my sedentary lifestyle caught up with me. I had put on about twenty pounds, and although I was still relatively healthy, it really had an effect on my self-esteem. I felt fat and unattractive, but being with my husband for ten years … someone who knew me “when I was attractive” was a comfort. We had been together since we were both 17, married at 23 and in our own house for three years, so trying to have a child was the next logical step.
Except that proved to be much more difficult than any of us ever thought.
I stopped taking birth control and went four months without a period. During this time, I gained another forty pounds without a single lifestyle change. It was shocking and I felt horrible all around, from the weight gain to feeling like a failure being unable to conceive. After six months of tests, I was diagnosed with PCOS, the most common form of female infertility in women. I was devastated, but I had answers and we started on a plan to move forward with multiple rounds of fertility treatments and me trying to be optimistic.
We were just about to begin another round of treatments when my now ex-husband announced he was leaving. Yes, times were stressful and we weren’t the happiest, but still.
I was blind sighted.
Finding myself newly single for the first time since I was a teenager, I had to figure out what a new normal was. How do I cook for one? What do I do with myself for fun? Would my friends, who I barely spent time with, still want to hang out? I was completely lost.
I was lucky though. I had the support from my family and friends to get me through that difficult time. People constantly invited me to their homes or out to do something and often checked in with me. All of a sudden, I started to feel happy again. I was doing things I wanted to do such as quilting rather than what someone else wanted. I could eat all of the seafood and veggies I wanted rather than my ex’s meat and potatoes preference. I had a new outlook on life.
And guess what? All of a sudden the weight started to drop.
Some of could be attributed to regulating my hormones that the PCOS threw out of whack. (The hormonal birth control pill is the primary way to control PCOS symptoms, hence my drastic weight gain when I went off of it). But mostly, I was eating better and just doing things I enjoyed. What a difference!
One of the biggest changes I made was going back to school and getting my master’s degree. It was something I had always thought about doing, but lacked the emotional support to do. Now that I was on my own and didn’t have to check with anyone about these life-changing decisions, I could take that big leap. While in school, I met some wonderful people. While in class one weekend, a few of my classmates talked about running a 5k. Never having been a runner growing up, I somewhat dismissed the idea. In fact, I used to make up excuses to get out of running long distances in softball. But after giving it some thought, I downloaded a Couch to 5k app and started moving.
Low and behold, the weight continued to drop. While I had become more active over the past two years at this point, this turned it into a routine. My lifestyle had changed to include physical activity as something I needed to incorporate into my week. I felt amazing.
Two weeks before graduating with my MBA from one of the top business schools in the country, I reached a crazy milestone. I had lost seventy pounds and felt INCREDIBLE. To this day, it still brings tears to my eyes.
Now, I’m constantly seeking out runs and challenging myself. I’m an 11-12 minute miler these days (sometimes 12-13 minutes for my long runs). But I remember my first 5K, and how I finished in 48 minutes. I’ve come a long way and can now run a 5K now without stopping. I’ve completed half a dozen or so 10K’s, including my first one about a year ago at the inaugural Wine and Dine 10K.
In November, I completed my first half marathon at Wine and Dine 2017 and I refuse to say the word “just” in front of my pace or distance. I’m owning what I can do, because I’ve worked extremely hard for what I’ve accomplished. And I encourage everyone else to drop the words “just” and “only” from their vocabulary, especially when referring to paces and distances when running.
I travel a lot for work these days, and it sometimes makes it difficult to maintain a healthy diet when constantly eating out and bouncing between hotels and airports. This stress has caused me to put on about fifteen of the seventy pounds I’ve lost, but I’m determined to get back to where I was. The fact that I ran a 5K and a 10K back-to-back this year for 9.3 miles total during a hot, humid day means I’m healthy.
That’s the most important thing.
I’ve also hired a nutritionist who specializes in working with women with hormonal diseases like PCOS to find the right balance between eating healthy and fueling my body for my workouts.
So, I’ll continue to rock that two-piece at the beach. I may still feel very self-conscious in it, but I refuse to let others bring me down. Looking back, I know the nicknames my ex-husband used to call me, names like “chubby-arms” and “thunder-thighs,” played a huge roll in my self-esteem that I’m still working to improve. It took a therapist (no shame) to point out that those nicknames and the way I was treated mentally was abusive, which I couldn’t see at the time.
I refuse to let others decide how I feel about myself. While relaxing at the beach with family after my big 9.3 mile race, a family member who had three children over a four year period wore a bikini for the first time in years. When I told her she looked great she said, “I knew you’d be wearing a two-piece, so I thought, why not.”
Now that’s music to my (mickey) ears.