How Running Helped Me Lose 65 Pounds, and My Keys

Five years ago, I was a mess. A mom to 18-month-old twins, I barely had time to sleep—much less to exercise. Until late in my pregnancy I'd been very active, doing yoga several times a week, Pilates, spin class, you name it. I ate healthy, too, going for salads and smoothies, lean protein and fresh veggies. Once our girls came along, all of that fell by the wayside. I just didn't have the time.

As my babies grew, so did my waistline. And my thighs. And my... Well, you get the idea! At 5 feet 3 inches, I had gone from a toned and strong 125 pounds to a soft and squishy 195. I couldn't even walk up a flight of stairs without pausing to catch my breath. The only positive thing you could say about me, I guess, is that I knew where my keys were. 

I still remember the day I decided enough was enough. It was July 14, 2013—Bastille Day. I had baked a cake to celebrate and was eating a hunk of it, with my hands, while standing over the kitchen sink. I couldn't even make it through the whole hunk without pausing to catch my breath.

It wasn’t easy, and I lost my keys somewhere along the way, but I did it.

"Enough is enough," I said to myself.

That very afternoon, I dug up my running shoes, left the girls with a sitter, and headed out the door for a 1-mile run. It wasn't easy, and I lost my keys somewhere along the way, but I did it.

The next day I woke up sore—and more determined than ever to keep running. I laced up again and, pushing my daughters in our double jogging stroller, covered the same mile-long route I'd done the day before. I was hoping to find my keys. I didn't, but I found something even better—my self esteem. Also a $5 bill.

The following weeks followed a similar pattern, as I gradually increased my mileage, lost subsequent sets of keys, and felt my pants fitting a bit looser. I started eating better, dumping all of our soda down the drain and stocking up on baby carrots and Greek yoghurt, which I insisted on spelling with an "h." 

I became a fixture at the local running shop and at the hardware store, where I got to know Jerry, the guy who makes copies of keys for you up by the cash register. Jerry and I shared many a Greek yoghurt—and many a laugh.

I was feeling more and more like my old self—so much so that, after about 4 months of slow-but-steady running, I found the confidence to sign up for my very first 5K. I was nervous, but I trained harder than ever and finished fifth in my age group! I lost my keys somewhere in the second or third mile, I think, so after the race I had to call my husband to bring me a spare set. I'll never forget what he told me that day: "Tina, cripes, get a little Velcro pouch or a waist pack or something."

I was so happy.

Fast-forward to today: I'm down to 130 pounds and—more important—feeling stronger than ever. I've run at least two dozen more 5Ks since that first one, and lost more sets of keys than I can remember, including a few with tiny Swiss army knives on them, which is a bummer, because even the small ones of those aren't cheap.

You know what, though? That's a price I'm willing to pay.

Next week I'll run my first half-marathon (gulp!) while my hubby and girls, now 6 years old, cheer me on. No matter what my finishing time is, I know my heart will be full and my keys will be somewhere, probably crammed into the small pocket with the busted zipper in the back of my running skirt.

Wish me luck.

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