Category: Transformation Tuesday

Transformation Tuesday: Robin Crisp

Doctors are quick to prescribe medications for fix ailments, but what if we actually changed our lifestyle to become healthier instead of just using medication.  But we all know that taking the hard road is never easy…that’s why they call it the hard road right?  Well Robin took that hard road and it really paid off! Here’s her story…  

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Let me start by saying if I can do this anyone can!!

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I have been overweight for as long as I can remember, or at least I felt that I was. Looking back now at pictures I realize many of those years that I wasn’t as heavy as I thought. I have been on every diet plan out there, Weight Watchers and all their numerous changes, NutriSystem, Diet Workshop, Atkins, and others I can’t even remember that are probably not even around anymore. There is no telling how much weight I lost and regained over the years.

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One day in January of 2013 after getting some lab work back, the doctor told me that I had high cholesterol and was diabetic. She said I needed to be on medication. I asked that if I changed my eating and exercise habits could I correct this. Sadly the response was “no you are to far gone.” I was not happy with this answer.

I had seen many contestants on The Biggest Loser who were much heavier than I was that had been taken off their medications. My heaviest ever was 239 pounds, which was nowhere near some of these people. Her saying that and wanting to put me on medicine made me angry and something in me clicked. I told myself I was going to show her! I did take the medications briefly but after finally getting in touch with a specialist and having her point me in the right direction, I started losing weight and stopped the medicine.

Along the way I discovered running. While the gym and exercise became part of my daily routine, I didn’t love it and was unfamiliar with everything there and what to do. I had never been an athlete and didn’t have an athletic bone in my body. Then one day on Facebook a friend of a friend mentioned something about the Couch-to-5K (C25K) program and running a 5K. I thought that if she can do it, I certainly can! I looked up C25K to learn about it, downloaded the app and away I went. It was soooo hard but hey I could burn way more calories in less time than walking the treadmill so I was in! 🙂

I got to week 4 of the program and just couldn’t progress any further. Thankfully this was when I discovered Jeff Galloway and his interval running along with runDisney…I was sold. What more of a motivating factor could I ever possibly need then to run in my favorite place on earth, not to mention being able to run in costume!

I soon discovered all of the wonderful running blogs and Facebook running groups, such as #TeamrunDisney and Pacebook Running Club. The support, encouragement and knowledge on there for new runners was amazing. I never realized there was so much to learn about running and running at Disney.

I signed up for the Enchanted 10K and set my goals. At that point I hadn’t even run a 5K but knew I was already close, so surely in 6 months I would be ready. However things didn’t go as planned. I had hoped to reach my first weight loss goal of 64 pounds by Princess Half Marathon Weekend, but fell short and at that point had only lost 39 pounds. My husband was supposed to do the race with me but had to go out of town for work so I cancelled all of our reservations, I was too scared to go alone. I lost motivation after that, what was I doing all this hard work for??

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Around that same time, I had joined a Facebook Enchanted 10K group and mentioned that I cancelled because I was scared to go alone. I received an overwhelming amount of encouragement and learned that most of the women in the group were also traveling and racing alone too. I was able to rebook my trip and got back to work. I loved the whole weekend and was so so glad I went!! The atmosphere and camaraderie there was incredible. I met so many nice people and have even become friends with some.

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Shortly after coming home registration for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon opened and I signed up ready to attempt my first half. I’ve gone back and forth ever since about it. I go from excited one day and thinking I can do it, to the next day thinking I must be crazy, how do I think I can ever finish 13.1 miles??

Training officially started last week and unfortunately I am now restricted from running due to plantar fasciitis. I am in physical therapy and thought it would be better soon, but after no improvement the doctor ordered an MRI. Sadly, I found out that have the start of a stress fracture in my heel and that I have partially ruptured my plantar fascia muscle. So it looks like for now I will be deferring to 2015.

I now have several 5K’s under my belt and am trying to plan at least one race a month for the motivation I need to train. I signed up for the 5K and 10K at Princess Half Marathon Weekend again in 2015 and have already started planning my costumes. I thought I should at least complete one half marathon before signing up for a second.

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As of today I have lost 47 pounds with another 17 to go for my first goal, then I will reevaluate how I feel. I haven’t stuck to my healthy eating plan 100% which is why the weight has come off slowly but I am trying to make positive healthy lifestyle changes and not just be on a diet. I have done this by cutting carbs and cutting out wheat and other grains due to my high blood sugar levels. I hope to get to the point one day where this all comes natural to me and is a daily habit like brushing your teeth so I don’t have to think about it all the time, but I know I can’t expect years of bad habits to go away overnight.

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Has running at Disney helped to transform your life?  If so, I want to hear your story!  Send me an email at sarah@runningatdisney.com to be featured on an upcoming Transformation Tuesday!

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Transformation Tuesday: Pete Olson

As a former student athlete and smoker myself, Pete’s story really resonates with me.  Sometimes it takes a look in the mirror to find yourself again…that’s just what he did 🙂

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From Athlete…to Obese Smoker…and Back Again

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So as you’re reading a Transformation Tuesday feature, you might be wondering why that young baseball player in the picture is being featured! Well, just give it a minute…you’ll find out. You see, the guy in the picture is me, and a couple of years ago, when I looked at this picture, what really grabbed me was not how young I looked. No, what really got me was that I weighed 165 pounds and stood at the same height I stand today.

But what’s interesting is that I wasn’t just a skinny, scrawny kid. I was actually in shape. This picture was taken during my college baseball team’s “Spring Training” in January 1985. Two months earlier, in order to earn the practice uniform I was wearing, our coach stipulated that any NCAA athlete should be able to run two miles in twelve minutes, and he required us to do so before he handed us our Spring Training uniforms. Well, it took me a couple extra weeks because I tweaked my knee on my first attempt – with just two laps to go, too – but ended up completing the two miles in 11 minutes, 27 seconds.

That’s a long way of saying (or bragging about how) I was a pretty good athlete in 1985; however, that well-conditioned young man didn’t stick around much longer. I was “hampered” with arm injuries; and unfortunately, because those injuries never fully healed, my dream of a baseball career was pretty much over before it got started.

So now I really didn’t “have” to run anymore. I really didn’t need to be as finely conditioned as I had been, as there was no game to train for, no two miles in twelve minutes to run. So, in retrospect, the day my baseball career ended was really the day I started heading down a slippery slope to a less healthy life and ultimately to a pretty darned unhealthy one. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened.

Slowly but certainly, I watched the numbers on the scale go up consistently and drastically. After a decade competing professionally (and not very successfully) in golf, I went back and earned my Master’s Degree and started teaching…and that marked the beginning of a sedentary lifestyle to follow for the next fifteen years. In just a couple of years, the scale told me I had gotten up to around 215; and in 1998, I walked into corporate America, sat down at my desk, and within two years I was up into the 230s…and by the time my daughter Mary was born (three years later), I found myself at around 260.

Prior to Mary’s birth, I did have an “I am going to be a dad and need to do something about my health…right now!” moment, and I quit smoking about six months before she arrived. Then, about six months after she was born, I came to realize that I also needed to lose weight (still hovering in the 260 range), and I actually got myself back down to about 210 pounds again…208 to be exact. This was the result of strict adherence to a diet for about a year. That said, though, somewhere in the middle of the weight loss, I thought it would be wise (it wasn’t!) to start smoking again (but “just for a little while”). I actually justified smoking over being obese, and I had the intent to quit smoking again “once I found myself back in the 100s” again. Pretty good logic, no?

At the end of the day, my trip away from obesity was short-lived, and to be honest I can’t remember what triggered me back to my old eating habits…which, basically, was something like “I’ll eat as much I what, when I want it” while hiding from everyone how much I actually ate and how often I was eating. Between fast food places, candy machines at work, bags of chips at home (these were a few of my favorite things), coupled with the days’ “normal” meals (yes, fast food sandwiches became snacks), I once again journeyed back to the 260s and then actually surpassed them to find myself at an all-time high of 278.

From that moment, I panicked and would put myself on crash diets, but nothing stuck…or, more appropriately, I stuck with nothing. I would lose a few pounds here and there, and then they would come back…and this was the cycle for the next few years. The reason why there aren’t many pictures of me from this era is because I guess I was hiding from cameras when I saw them…and I would always seek cover (either consciously or subconsciously) behind people or objects in the photographs that managed to capture my now obese frame. Here are a couple of shots that somehow got by me, though…

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So at the end of this fifteen-year period (from 1996 to 2011), I didn’t recognize the guy in the mirror as a former college and professional athlete. Instead, I saw an obese man who lacked power over food and cigarettes, who was too lazy to get out and exercise, and who was ultimately dying a slow, unhealthy death for which he would be deemed the primary cause.

But on November 1, 2011, an unfortunate event finally lit a spark under that obese guy, and he decided right then and there that it was time to change his life…

As my mother-in-law underwent a surgical procedure to repair the arteries that transport blood to the brain, I spent the day working, smoking cigarettes, and overeating…since I weighed around 260-ish at the time, it was probable that I was overeating.

As Michelle listed the outcomes of the stroke her mother suffered while on the operating table (paralysis, inability to speak or eat), she also shared with me that the sign in the hospital elevator indicated two of the leading causes of strokes were cigarette smoking and obesity…and it was at that moment that the proverbial “light” went off and I knew that it was time to get my life and my health back on the right track. It was at that moment that I realized that my weight and my smoking was leading me down a path of heart attacks, strokes, and lung disease.

So I picked November 11, 2011 (11-11-11 sounded easy to remember) as the day to quit smoking; and over the next couple of very tough months, I allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted to eat (couldn’t get too health crazy all at once) while keeping it in the back of my mind that I was going to undertake weight loss after the “give me a cigarette!!!” moments subsided. And on January 7, 2012, weighing in at 275.6 pounds, the cravings subsided and I started dieting again.

But later that year I realized that dieting just wasn’t enough, so with Michelle’s encouragement to “just go out there and run,” I started running again after a twenty-six-year hiatus. The plan at the time was really about running for weight loss. You see, while I had lost about thirty pounds over the year’s first six months, my dieting had gotten me to a weight loss plateau, which is a dangerous place for a habitual dieter. But rather than repeating past behavior and accepting life at an obese 245 pounds, which would have ultimately taken me back to 275, I was finally ready for a real change.

On July 23, 2012, I woke up at around 5:15am on a hot and humid Monday morning, threw on a pair of gym shorts (not running shorts), a white cotton tee shirt (sweat retaining – not a running shirt), golf socks (not sweat resistant), and what I thought was a decent pair of sneakers I had purchased at an outlet mall (I was wrong). After drinking a cup of water, I walked out my front door at around 5:30. I had neither Garmin nor running app to track my pace or mileage…and I had no clear-cut plan but to “just go out there and run.”

After a few stretches I had recalled from my athletic past, I walked to my mailbox and just started running. Immediately, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep this up for very long…my breathing was labored, my fat was bouncing to and fro, and there were varying levels of pain shooting through my body.

I thought to myself, “okay…keep pushing…just make it to that house, and then you can walk.” And I did…so I did. Only later did I find out that the house was just over a quarter mile up the street. After that point, I decided that I was going to walk until I felt good enough to run again. Well, when I reached another house, I figured I would turn around and start running back home. It turns out that the house was about a half mile more up the way, so I had gone a total of three quarters of a mile. I can’t recall how long I ran the next time, but I am certain it wasn’t another quarter mile. In fact, to the best of my knowledge and memory, I don’t know how many run/walk intervals it took to get me through that second three-quarter-mile stretch…but I believe that the walking was about equal to the running. At least that’s what I tell myself.

For that first month, I ran/walked the same route five days a week, and each time I tried to run a little more than I had the last time…no matter what. I iced my knees after every run. I took Aleve at least twice a day. I sweat like crazy even for hours following my showers. At times I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep this up. And at others I just wanted to quit.

But I didn’t.

I just kept running.

And on a fateful day about a month later, I started running at my mailbox, right past that first house, all the way to the three quarter mile house, and then all the way back home. A mile and a half…without stopping!

Over the course of the next year and a half, with the help of a training apps, good friends to keep me accountable, a Garmin, some real running equipment, and stringent training plans, I managed to lose 100 pounds and to work myself up to running and completing my first full marathon on January 12, 2014, at Walt Disney World. And as my sister Karen had put in an email to me after the race…

“What an amazing journey you’ve started!”

Started? Yes, started. This isn’t the end of anything. Yes, a fence post has been driven in the ground, but for me, there are so many more marathons to run, so many goals for which I am reaching. My sister was right. This is not the end. It’s the beginning. In fact, right now I am halfway through my training for the Chicago Marathon in October…and from there I have many more athletic dreams to realize. That athlete has made it back from smoking and obesity…and I don’t want him to go away again!

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Has running at Disney helped to transform your life?  If so, I want to hear your story!  Send me an email at sarah@runningatdisney.com to be featured on an upcoming Transformation Tuesday!

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Transformation Tuesday: Sarah Gee

After years of playing sports as kids, many of us (myself included) often get so wrapped up in life that exercise takes a back seat.  Problems occur when you continue eating like that athlete but aren’t burning off those calories anymore!  Sarah knows this all too well and shares her transformation story with us today.  It’s never too late for that competitive athlete to show it’s face again 🙂

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I had always been very athletic in high school, playing softball, volleyball and basketball year round for 4 years. Upon graduation I went from playing all 3 sports constantly to NOTHING, I did not change the way I ate and quickly started putting on the pounds. I didn’t think anything of it, just called it the “freshman 15 (and then some).”

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I graduated college in 2.5 years and began working in surgery (I’m a surgical technologist), you go long periods of time without being able to eat and when you do get to eat you just grab whatever is the quickest thing available.

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My husband proposed and we set a wedding date, I was able to get some weight off before the wedding because a friend of mine basically dragged me to a local Zumba class, which I surprisingly fell in love with. We got married, I started cooking the things I was raised on and then began noticing that I was having to buy bigger and bigger clothes every few months.

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January 1, 2011 I was sitting at home watching TV and a Weight Watchers commercial came on and it was then that I decided I had to make a change and this was it. I signed up that day and started my road to losing. I set the goal of wanting to lose a total of 80 pounds but 60 in a year. The weight just started falling off, I was eating my allotted points per day and I was continuing Zumba at least 2 to 3 times a week. By May 2011 I had lost 25 pounds. A friend that I had met during Zumba asked me to do a local 5k with her in memory of her friend from high school that had been killed in a car accident right after they had graduated. I said sure, why not.  I ran a couple times before the race to “train” for it. Race day came and when I crossed that finish line the competitive feeling from playing all the sports in high school came rushing back and I was hooked on running.

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To say I became addicted to running from that point is an understatement. I was running 5ks almost every weekend. With the addition of running to my diet I was shedding even more weight, and by September I had lost an additional 25 pounds for a total of 50 pounds. I did my first 10k that September and loved the distance running. It was a struggle to get those last 10 pounds off to meet my goal of 60 pounds lost in 1 year but I managed to hit that goal on December 29!! I continued with WW and the weight wasn’t coming off as easily but I stuck with it. I decided I was going to do my first half marathon fall of 2012. I began training for that in June and before I ran the half I had lost 72 pounds total.

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The bad thing about distance running is that I constantly stay hungry. I have been training for half and full marathons since Novemeber 2012 constitantly. I have struggled to keep the whole 72 pounds off, I have slowly been gaining it back. I feel like it could be muscle but then some of it is fat again. As of totally I’m only down 40 pounds from where I originally started but I feel like I am still healthier than I was.  As of today I have completed too many 5ks (3.1 miles) for me to count, 3 10ks (6.2 miles), 1 15k (9.3 miles), 7 half marathons (13.1 miles), and 1 full marathon (26.2 miles). I am currently training to do 1 half and 2 full marathons in a 3 week span, along with the Dopey Challenge (5k, 10k, half, full in 4 days) at Disney World in January 2015.

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Has running at Disney helped to transform your life?  If so, I want to hear your story!  Send me an email at sarah@runningatdisney.com to be featured on an upcoming Transformation Tuesday!

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Transformation Tuesday: Julia Hagge

Have you ever not recognized yourself in a photo?  Sometimes the curveballs that life throws us can lead to poor choices that spiral out of control.  Often this happens without even being aware of it!  This happened to Julia and she is here to share her inspiring story of how she used her competitive side to turn that all around!

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After years of infertility my husband and I were blessed to have 3 children within 3 years.  We had boy/girl twins in 2004 and a surprise son in 2006.  During pregnancy and nursing I carefully considered everything I ate and strove to provide the best nutritional beginning for my children. Shortly after the birth of my son I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. While I strove to provide the best nutrition for my children, I ate convenience food for myself in response to stress.  Over time my weight increased by fifty pounds and I sought to hide behind extra layers and baggy clothes.

A pivotal moment in my transformation came the day I said goodbye to my husband as he left for a deployment in Afghanistan.  After a tearful goodbye, I looked at the family picture just taken at the airport and gazed in shock at my image. I didn’t recognize the person consumed in multiple layers and spilling over her pants. It was at this moment I decided to take control of my choices and develop a healthier lifestyle. I wanted my husband to arrive back home to a fit and healthy wife.

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Capitalizing on my competitive nature I began with enrollment in my local YMCA’s Cinch and Inch competition. I was placed on a team with two women to compete against other teams to lose the most weight. We worked out together twice a week for eight weeks and received nutritional counseling. I was scared to run on the treadmill and stuck with the elliptical machine for cardio.  My team won the challenge and I won the top prize for most weight lost.

Once I lost thirty pounds I tentatively ventured over to the treadmill. It was not love at first sight. I found running to be hard and tedious, however, I liked the sense of accomplishment I felt after meeting goals set. My sister and I stumbled across the 2011 Wine and Dine Relay being offered by Disney and we registered as a team. Running part of a race seemed like a good segue into running at Disney.  She took the 1st leg and I agreed to run the longer 2nd part.  Once again my competitive nature kicked in and I focused on adding miles to my endurance and speed to my miles. I continued to drop pounds as I monitored what I ate and trained for the race.

It was during the Wine and Dine Relay that I became hooked on running at Disney. I will never forget the moment I ran through the Osborne lights in Hollywood Studios.  It was like running in a magical dream.  I met my goal of a ten-minute mile pace and my sister and I celebrated at the after party.

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Since my first Disney race in 2011 I ran the 2012 Princess ½ Marathon, 2012 Tower of Terror, and the 2013 Glass Slipper Challenge.  It was during training for the Glass Slipper Challenge that I discovered the power in the online Disney running community. I joined several online groups and found inspiration and motivation hearing about the journey of fellow runners. The Disney running community inspired me to set challenging goals and kept me motivated to carve out time to train. At the Glass Slipper Challenge I placed 29th in my division for the 10K and 138th in my division for the ½ marathon.

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Currently, I am training for the 2014 Wine and Dine ½ Marathon and the 2015 Goofy Challenge.  January will mark my first marathon and a huge step in my running journey.  Never would I have thought I could voluntarily run over 26 miles.  Disney races keep me motivated to make healthy lifestyle choices and maintain a consistent running schedule. Although I initially set out to lose 35 pounds, I lost a total of 50 pounds and have been able to maintain my weight since 2011. More importantly, I now see a healthier version of me when I look at my photos.

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About Julia: I am 43 and have been married fourteen years to Joe, my biggest supporter. In addition to being a mom to three amazing children, I teach at a large university and will complete my Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction in May 2015.  I am currently training for my first marathon as part of the Goofy Challenge at WDW in January of 2015.

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Has running at Disney helped to transform your life?  If so, I want to hear your story!  Send me an email at sarah@runningatdisney.com to be featured on an upcoming Transformation Tuesday!

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Transformation Tuesday: Chris Ball

Transformation Tuesday is back and I’m happy to welcome Chris to RAD!  I think Chris’ story is true for many people who are competitive in their youth and I think you will relate to it.  Congrats Chris on recently finishing your first half marathon and we hope to see you run many runDisney races in the future!

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My whole life I have been involved in sports.  I was a competitive swimmer from 8 years old all the way through high school.  I also ran cross-country in middle school.  After I graduated from high school I stopped swimming and stopped running and I continued eating as if I were still competing.  I went from 165 lbs to 220 lbs. I went through periods of weight loss but could not keep the weight off.

I started running again and working out at my local gym, and I am now down to 173 lbs.   I ran in the Atlantic City 11K in April 2013 and I competed in my first Triathlon in August of 2013.  After competing in these two races I wanted to challenge myself and complete a half marathon.  I achieved this goal on November 9, 2013 after completing the runDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon.

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I have been a huge Disney fan since I was little and I am so glad to be able to combine my love for running and my love of Disney.  I have even convinced my fiancé, who doesn’t run, to start training for a runDisney run in a few years.

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I recently started my own business, Chris’s Health and Fitness, to help share what I have learned through my journey and to help others achieve their goals.  To check it out go to,www.facebook.com/chrisshealthandfitness.  I am also a Personal fitness coach for Beachbody.  You can check out my site at, www.beachbodycoach.com/cball086

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Has running at Disney helped to transform your life?  If so, I want to hear your story!  Send me an email at sarah@runningatdisney.com to be featured on an upcoming Transformation Tuesday!

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