Category: Transformation Tuesday

Transformation Tuesday: Crystal Wiseheart

I think Crystal’s story will resonate with a lot of people.  Stress is a big trigger as to why people gain weight and understandable so.  It’s how those people get out of the slump that inspires us….I’ll let Crystal and her abs tell you that story 🙂

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I started with Disney races a little different than some people.  I started as a volunteer.  After being average weight most of my life, in 2006 our family went through some very stressful times with my than 6 year old son.  Basically 4 months of waiting for biopsy results, surgery, etc.  I didn’t handle any of it well to say the least and I turned to food for comfort during that time.  I gained 40 lbs in 4 months!

Being a huge Disney fan I had heard about the Inaugural Disneyland Half Marathon and I decided it would be fun to volunteer.  I was so inspired by the people out there of all shapes and sizes doing that race that I decided in 2007 I was going to do the 5K and work my way up to the Half.  Unfortunately I didn’t make the changes I needed to and by summer 07 I reached my highest weight of 210 lbs.  I was miserable and now I had to do a 5K totally untrained.  After completing the Disneyland 5K that year I vowed to work on my health so I could come back and do the Half.  I actually lost about 30 lbs and kept it off from late 2008 – 2010.  During that time I walked many Half marathons and also did my first Marathon (WDW 2009) and first Goofy Challenge (2010).

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In Spring 2010 during a routine physical my doctor told me that my blood pressure was a concern.  It had been borderline for some time and she wanted me to take medication.  All I could think about was my boys.  My sons are both severely autistic and will need care well into their adult lives.  I did not want to do anything that could prevent me from being there to care for them for as long as possible.  So I knew I needed to make changes and get the other 50 lbs off.  I’d like to say I had that “a-ha” moment and did the work but it didn’t go that smoothly for me.  For the remainder of 2010 I struggled with yo-yoing back and forth and could never keep my weight down.

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In early 2011 I finally got real about my relationship with food.  I could no longer use it to comfort me.  I needed to address the real issue that I worked out solely so I could eat!  So I totally changed my eating at that point.  Got rid of the junk in my house and loaded up on the healthy foods that I enjoyed eating.  After about a month of that, I was ready to find an exercise plan that would really make a difference for me.  As much as I enjoyed walking, it just wasn’t cutting it physically anymore.  So one early morning I saw an infomercial for a workout called Turbo Fire.  I was hooked!  I had to have this!  So I got Turbo Fire and sprung for the deluxe set (which was a 20 week program!) and dug in!  From April 2011 to Nov 2011 I did that program and lost 50 lbs!

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With the weight gone and my fitness and health back on track, I started running more during the runDisney races.  Every race my time would improve just a little more.  I went from walking marathons to running marathons.  Definitely a proud moment for this one time couch potato!

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I made it my mission to try to inspire others to take charge of their health.  Since the at home workouts helped me so much, I decided to become an Independent Team Beachbody Coach so I could help others reach their fitness goals as well.  In January 2014 I took it one step further and became a NASM Certified Personal Trainer so I could help even more.

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Never in my life would I have thought that volunteering at the Disneyland Half could turn into a whole new life for me and my family.  I am blessed beyond measure and only hope to pay it forward.

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About Crystal:  I’m a 40 year old married mother of 2 teen boys.  I work from home helping people with their health and fitness as an Independent Team Beachbody Coach and NASM Certified Personal Trainer.  My online site is www.runthepark.com.  I’m currently training for several runDisney races including my second Dopey Challenge followed by the new Star Wars Rebel Challenge.

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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: Michele Elbertson

Do you ever see one of those before and after photos of someone’s transformation and your jaw drops to the floor?  This is what happened when I first saw Michele’s photo.  I honestly couldn’t believe it was the same person!  She has such a positive attitude and just keeps on trying new things along her journey to get healthy.  Enjoy her wonderful story…  

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At the young age of 23 in October 2009; I weighed a whopping 427 pounds and wore a size 32 clothing. Growing up, I had always been heavy; it was who I was, I knew no different. I weighed approximately 180 pounds in the 5th grade; a TYPICAL 5th grader weighs around 100 pounds. I was wearing women’s clothing; which prevented me from wearing what was “in”; further isolating me from peers. I was extremely inactive and would do anything to get out of school gym activities; especially the timed 1-mile run. I remember having anxiety attacks the night before the run; crying to my mother as I lay in bed and begged her not to send me to school. As the years progressed, I began getting doctors notes due to exercise-induced asthma that I had developed. I PHYSICALLY could not do the activities I was expected to do at my age. My parents tried to help me; but the more they pushed for me to eat healthy and exercise, the more I pushed back. There was nothing anyone could do.

The weight steadily climbed throughout middle school and high school. I entered college bordering on 300 pounds. I was determined to “start fresh” in college. This was my first time away from home and I wanted to make the best out of it. I was away from the bullies of middle school/high school and wanted to make a new impression. Even though I had a new positive attitude, my weight was sky rocketing and I was being teased and made fun of for my looks. During this time, I was eating fast food at every meal, and junk food in between.   I also realized that I had no feeling of being “full”. I remember sitting down and being able to eat a ½ pizza, an order of wings, breadsticks, and a 2 liter bottle of soda….by myself. My weight went from 300 pounds upon entering college all the way up to 427 upon graduation.

After college, I moved back home to save some money. I was content with myself and hadn’t realized how far I let myself go. I got my first job immediately upon moving home; I was teaching in a 4th grade classroom. Up until this point, I had become “used to” being teased by my peers, however, when I stood in front of a class of students who were teasing me, I had to draw the line! I overheard my student’s talking about their “fat teacher”; and realized that teacher was ME! Something had to be done! That was my Ah-ha moment!

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In 2009, I began researching weight loss surgeries. I had decided upon the Lap Band; it was less invasive and it could be removed if needed in the future. The fact that it could be removed was important for me; I needed to have a “fall back” option at this point in my thought process. I still wasn’t 100% certain that this would work. I was told that lap band typically doesn’t drop as much weight as a more intensive/invasive surgery, TYPICALLY a 50-75 pound weight loss, but it was the surgery I had decided upon.

Here’s a little background info on the lap band. It’s a band that is wrapped around the upper portion of the stomach. It has an attached tube that is connected to an internal port. The band is “filled” through the port with saline to make the band tighter. The tighter the band is, the less food is able to pass through, resulting in increased weight loss. Sometimes if the band is too tight and I eat too much; it results in vomiting. This is very unpleasant and unpredictable. Vomiting is also very dangerous for a lap band patient; it could result in a slip, which leads to another surgery.

Fortunately as the months/years went by with getting to know my band, I was able to determine what my band was able to tolerate and what would make me vomit. Breads, anything “doughy”, certain stringy vegetables, pastas….these things are not tolerated well with the band and result in vomiting episodes. These vomiting episodes can last for 3-4 HOURS and are extremely unpleasant. There are foods, however, that easily slides down and can be easy to cheat with! I have to be VERY careful when eating these foods since they go down so easily. For me, these foods are chocolate, ice cream, and cookies. All of these foods are high in fat and calories, but for some reason, slide down easily! This is where self-control is crucial for me! The lap band is different for each person; each person has their own “stuck” foods and “slider” foods. No two lap band patients are the same.

The surgery was NOT an easy fix. I went into surgery the same weight as I was when I came out. The surgery went beautifully. My doctor was pleased with the results. Little did I know that my life from there on out would change for good!

Recovery from surgery was text-book. I followed the post-lap band surgery diet strictly. I spent a week on liquids; 2oz of clear liquids (watered down apple juice/grape juice, and chicken broth) every 3 hours. I then switched to mushy foods; potatoes, baby food, applesauce, etc. After that stage, I switched to more solid foods and re-introduced myself to “regular people” food; tuna fish, chicken salad minus mayo, etc. Mentally, this diet was extremely difficult. Physically I wasn’t hungry, and some days it was a force to eat the “meals” every 3 hours! I remember two days post-surgery lying in my bed smelling the pot roast, veggies, and potatoes my mom was cooking in the kitchen. This is a meal I never really liked, but at this point, I WANTED IT! I sat in my bed crying over not being able to eat it; and I began to regret the surgery!

I was able to push through this difficult stage and moved forward! The first few months, the weight began to “drop” off. I had lost about 30 pounds in the first three months before I hit my first plateau. At this point, I had just been eating healthy, but I knew in order to pass over the plateau, I needed to add exercise into my routine. Exercise had always been difficult for me; but I was now 30 pounds lighter, so it was time! I started walking and doing light cardio on the elliptical at the gym, enough to kick start weight loss again.

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About a year into my weight loss journey, I had lost almost 100 pounds. I had already passed the “typical” lap band weight loss; but I was determined to keep going.

Someone asked me how I was going to celebrate losing 100 pounds. It obviously couldn’t be an edible celebration anymore- so I had to think outside of the box. I decided my goal was to do a 5k run in Walt Disney World. This meant I had to actually run and train! Something I had NEVER done or even imagined ever doing! I signed myself up for the Walt Disney World Princess 5k in February 2011.

I started my training that summer. I never followed a specific training plan; I just ran. I started off slowly. I mostly ran from one mailbox to another until I could keep going further. I was still 300ish pounds at this point, so running was tricky but I was ready and excited for this race!

Princess weekend came and I was ready for it; or so I thought! It was the LONGEST 3.1 miles of my life. I refused to stop for any character pictures. My finish time was somewhere around 48 minutes. (My current 5k time now is 28 minutes). When I finished, I was as red as a tomato and I hurt. I gladly accepted my plastic medallion that I proudly wore around my neck for the next week, however; I swore I would NEVER run again!

The next morning, I woke up in my hotel room to a lot of noise. I walked outside my room and saw thousands of runners racing by me in the half marathon. My immediate thought was “those people are crazy”. I had run 3.1 miles the day prior, and here they are running 13.1! The more I watched the runners; I noticed how much fun they were having. I must have stood for over an hour watching and cheering as the race continued before grabbing my plastic medallion and heading to the parks for the day. It was in the parks where I saw the half marathon medal; all of the sudden my plastic medallion was not good enough anymore and I wanted that ½ marathon medal! It was at that point where I decided to run a half marathon!

I knew I had to continue my weight loss journey and my training in order to achieve my new goal of running 13.1 miles. I stayed strong and I ran my first half marathon the following November. I did very well; and was quickly hooked to running!

I very quickly caught the running bug! In 2.5 years, I completed 38 half marathons, 6 full marathons, and one 50-mile ultra-marathon. The weight loss continued throughout this journey as well. There were many parts of my journey where I would plateau and need to switch up my workout/eating routines in order to get my body moving and losing weight again!

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I just celebrated my four year lap band anniversary this April 15, 2014. I went from 427 pounds down to 174 pounds. A size 32 to a size 6.   I am extremely proud of my progress, but I’m not done yet! Weight loss has slowed down immensely; and I am trying to base my progress on how my clothes fit. I am currently doing some heavy weight lifting, and I know I am gaining a lot of muscle. I just recently had a body fat percentage test done; and I currently have 14.4% body fat; which falls in the “excellent” category. As per the BMI charts, I am still considered “overweight”, but that does not take into account muscle and lifestyle! So there we have it, the lap band was supposed to ONLY have me lose 50-75 pounds….I beat the odds by losing 255 pounds, and still losing!

I am a totally different person than I was four years ago. I now workout 7 days a week; and LOVE it! A few years back, you wouldn’t find me in a gym. A few MONTHS back, you wouldn’t have found me in a group exercise class; and I am now a certified Bokwa group fitness instructor! I actually look forward to my workouts. Those days of me trying to get out of a mile run are over. I now barely sweat in the first mile or two of a run! My eating is still difficult with the lap band on certain days; but I never complain. Is it a pain?  Yes, but it was the band that gave me the tools I needed to be successful!   I count my calories daily and workout; it’s not a “diet”, it’s a lifestyle!

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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: Adam Roberson

Adam was one of the first people I knew who ran a half marathon in Walt Disney World.  He cheered me on (along with more of our BOGP family!) during my first 5K in 2010 and I returned the favor during the Wine & Dine Half Marathon that night.  Look here we are!

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His determination and how he continues to set goals for himself have been extremely inspiring to me.  It has been so great to follow along with Adam’s running journey over the years and I’m so happy he’s here to share it with all of you today!  Enjoy 🙂

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Prior to 2010 I had never even thought about running a race at all. In the spring of 2010, with some Disney friends influencing me, I decided that I would not only run my first ever race, but my first would be a half marathon! What was I thinking? I thought if I was going to run a race, it’d have to be a runDisney race. So I registered for the 2010 Wine & Dine Half Marathon. I’m always up for a challenge and “can’t” has never been in my vocabulary.

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So my training begins and I’m on my way to accomplishing something I had NEVER thought I’d be able to do. I remember my first time stepping outside to run, I was pumped and ready to get this training on. I started running and I honestly didn’t make it more than 5 houses down before I had to stop. My legs were aching and I was out of breath. My first thought was, this is going to be harder than I imagined. But I never gave up, the next day I went a little further and the next further and so on. I remember the first time I completed a mile without stopping I was jumping for joy. Before long I could run 5,6,7 miles without stopping. A week before the race, even though the training program I was using didn’t suggest it, I decided to run the 13.1 miles…I wanted to make sure I could actually do it and survive. haha I did it and I actually felt pretty good afterwards, I knew I then I’d be ready for race day.

I actually set a personal goal on race day. I wanted to complete my first half marathon in less than 3 hours. The week prior when I ran that distance I ran in 2:48, so I knew this could be a reachable goal. The race was awesome! So much entertainment on the course, the miles actually flew by. My wife Suzie was there to cheer me on and I also had lots of friends from the Be Our Guest Podcast cheering me on as well. There were plenty of friends running the race also. It was so much of an encouragement to have these people to talk to in the holding area prior to the race.

I remember nearing the finish line and thinking to myself, I can’t believe that I’ve actually done this! So many people the last mile lining the streets and sidewalks. I crossed the finish line and so many emotions running through my head, I had tears of joy as the medal was placed around my neck. And about that goal I set, I finished in 2:57:13. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. If you have the determination and will power, you CAN do it!

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I enjoyed the race so much that I signed up for the 2011 W&D Half the following year. I was able to get my wife running some and we both ran the Disney Family fun run 5k in 2011. I was so proud of her for setting that goal and best of all, we ran it together.

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Later that night as I was in the corral for the half, I got a family emergency call and we had to make our way back home before the race started.

In 2012 I decided to run the inaugural Tower of Terror 10-miler. Something about the night races, I just love them. It was another great race but boy was it hot and humid that night, but I finished and that’s all that matters. 🙂

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I wanted to run a race in 2013 but I had to work it around my work schedule and the only week I could get away from work was going to be the Princess Half Marathon. So I was hesitant about signing up for that one but with the assurance that other guys would be running, I went ahead and registered for it. So glad I did as it was such a fun race and I especially enjoyed running through the Magic Kingdom.

The Princess race was a little tougher for me as I had put on some weight since the other races I had run. With the passing of my father-in-law and my dad being diagnosed with cancer, the stress and all from all that I had added some weight. But I was determined to do it, and that I did, not the best time but I did finish. It was a great accomplishment considering the weight I had gained. My dad passed away about 5 weeks after the Princess.

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In April 2013 I ran my very first non-Disney race, The Bridge Street Half Marathon here in Huntsville, AL. I was so scared of this race just because I was used to having all the Disney entertainment in the runDisney races. All in all it was a good race, boring compared to runDisney, but not nearly as bad as I was expecting. In fact, I got a PR for this race and finished in 2:49. 🙂 I’m thinking about running more local races in the future.

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This is where I decided to start to do something about my weight. I knew if I could just get jump started, with the running, I could lose the weight I needed to lose. Even though I had been running since 2010, I needed to start to eat healthier. I had done Weight Watchers (WW) for several years, in fact I’m a WW lifetime member. It’s a great program and works for me. However, my brother had recently been using Advocare products and told me about the 24-day challenge I’d been seeing a lot of people doing on Facebook and telling of their success stories. I knew I needed a jump start and this may be just what I needed to get a boost.

This is the day I started the challenge on left and on the right is a month later. I had lost 13 lbs but most importantly a whopping 9 inches. I’m now wearing clothes I haven’t worn in over 2 years. I basically take the vitamins daily from Advocare and eat sensibly throughout the day using the WW program I had done so well with in the past. It’s a great combination and it’s working. I have a long way to go, but with the same determination and will power I had for finishing my first half marathon, I KNOW I can do it!

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About Adam:
I’m 39 years old and married to the most beautiful woman I know! Suzie and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary. I love traveling, especially to our “happy place” Walt Disney World several times a year. Looking forward to another challenge as I’ll be running in my very first full marathon in January down in WDW!

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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: Six Weeks of Awesome!

Transformation Tuesday

It’s been six weeks since I started Transformation Tuesday and I feel so honored to have been able to share these inspirational stories.  I wanted to take a moment to look back at these stories and share them all in one spot in case you missed any.  We can all use a heartwarming story to get us through the day and I don’t know any better ones than these 🙂

The series started off with Liz and her story of losing over 100 pounds with the goal of running the Walt Disney World Marathon in mind…she did it!

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Next up was Sandy.  She started, like many of us do, with the Couch-to-5K program and has now completed Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge!

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Cindy joined us for week three to share that not only she has been shrinking in size because of runDisney, but she is shrinking her race time too!

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Ilene only started running 17 months ago at the age of 54 during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend with the Family Fun Run 5K.  She has since gone on to complete Ragnar Cape Cod AND the Boston Marathon…amazing!

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Like many mom’s, Katie turned to runDisney to lose the weight she gained after having twin boys.  Not only did it get her active, but she became healthy in all areas of her life!

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And rounding out the 6 weeks is Richard.  runDisney helped him to lose 141 pounds and gain some much needed mental clarity!

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Aren’t all of these people amazing?!  I hope to continue this series going, but I can’t do it without you! If running at Disney has helped to transform your life or someone you know, 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: Richard Green

I’m excited to have our first Transformation Tuesday from a male point of view!!  Richard found runDisney as a way to not only lose weight but as a way to fight his depression and enjoy a healthier, happier life!  A true inspiration in how to turn that frown upside-down 🙂

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Richard-Green-Transformation-BeforeIn August of 2011, I was poking around the internet when I stumbled across the runDisney site.  Registration was open for the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon.  I knew that in my present physical shape a half marathon was out of the question, but I saw that they had a 5k fun run. I’m a lawyer.  Before I plunked down $100 for a 5k, I read the fine print.  There was a pace requirement.  I had to hold a 16 minute mile pace or I’d be removed from the course.  I didn’t know how fast that was, but I didn’t think I could do that.  I did not want to fail, so I dismissed the thought of running the Neverland 5K.

About a week later I saw a Facebook post from a friend doing the Couch to 5K program.  I investigated it and discovered how I would run the Neverland 5k. I plunked down the $100 for the 5k bib because I knew if I didn’t register for the race, I’d flake on the training.

On September 1, 2011, I mounted the treadmill at my apartment complex and ‘ran’ day one of week one of C25k.  At the end of that 30 minutes, I stepped off that treadmill with a clarity of mine that I had not had in years.  The mental fog that I had been living in was gone.  The dysthymic depression that had pervaded my life was gone, and I saw myself in a whole new way.  After that first treadmill session, I realized that I was depressed and that I was treating the depression with food.

After realizing that running was an effective treatment for depression for me, I realized that if I were to keep running, I would need to lose weight.  I downloaded a calorie log called Lose It!  Running gave/gives me the mental acuity to log and restrict my caloric intake.  I also sought medical advice and treatment for depression.

I ran the Neverland 5k in January of 2012 and kept on running.  Along the way, I finished the Disneyland Half Marathon, The Double Dumbo Dare, and most recently the 2014 Walt Disney World Marathon.

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Through running, calorie logging, and medical treatment for depression, I lost 141 lbs. I now weight 225 lbs.  I am also significantly more self aware.  runDisney was my path out of darkness of mental illness and back to a healthy lifestyle.

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Richard is a Southern California native and a huge Disney fan.  He used to be huge in more ways than one.  Not only is his a Disneyland annual passholder, but he also tipped the scale at 366 pounds.  Through runDisney, Richard has lost the weight and found happiness all while completing numerous races along the way.

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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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