May 05, 2012

"How I Lost 130 Pounds" (A guest post by Lealah)

"How I lost 130 Pounds" (A guest post by Lealah)

I would like to introduce you to another teammate from my Ragnar Relay team. Lealah (pronounced LAY-luh) was very close to having lap band surgery, but discovered she could lose the weight on her own--and she did. Check out her super inspiring story!

Hi! My name is Lealah. I've been privileged to be included in an amazing group of people with which to run the Florida Keys Ragnar Relay in 2013, and here is my story:

I've spent my entire life overweight, if not obese.  In 2010, I realized I was incredibly unhappy with the way my life was and with how I felt.  I tried anti-depressants from my doctor and that actually made things worse for me.  I was in a spiral of being depressed and angry, and many times I would direct my anger at the people around me.

I reached a high of 260 lbs, and I felt miserable with nothing to look forward to. I saw a picture of myself and realized exactly how much weight I had gained and why it was so tedious climbing up and down stairs. Everything felt overwhelming.  I felt like there was no escape and the more I thought about trying to change, the more difficult it became to even conceive the idea of a better life with better health.  I felt trapped.

In January of 2010, I had a friend whom was planning getting lap band surgery and I thought "Hey that sounds like something that could work for me!" So I went to several seminars, got really excited, pumped myself up, dreamed of not being fat anymore. Then I got to the financing.

This part made me nervous, but I had found a weight loss surgeon whom I particularly liked that reassured me we'd find a way to make my insurance cover part of it. He said that with a recommendation, his documentation, and reports of prior weight loss attempts, we could make a case for it.  The first step was to lose 10% of my body weight.

On February 15, 2010 I started eating better and I started walking. One month later, I had lost 20 pounds.  I kept going until suddenly I'd lost more than the 10% required to begin the process of weight loss surgery.  I had somewhat forgotten the lap band surgery and every time I thought of it, I remembered the repercussions that came with the surgery.  I LOVE to eat. I knew I did not want to give up so many of my favorite foods and I started thinking to myself, "If I can lose this much with diet and exercise, then maybe I can go all the way."

I found an awesome website called where I tracked my food and exercise.  I got a membership at the YMCA for myself and the kids, and started trying new exercises.  I started using the elliptical, and the first time I got on one, I only lasted about 8 minutes. The next time, I made it 55 minutes.  I tried Yoga, even started trying the Couch to 5k program.

By May, I had started going to Zumba and loved it! The amount of courage it took me to enter that first Zumba class is immeasurable. Being overweight came a huge sense of insecurity and fear of crowds, but I overcame it. I was on a roll, and all the paperwork I had from the different weight loss surgery seminars had been shoved into a drawer somewhere. I no longer even considered that an option.

The summer of 2010, I entered a Subway Weight Loss Challenge to which the winners would be announced at the Midnight Streak 5k. Since I was attempting (struggling horribly through) the Couch to 5k program, I considered signing up for this as my first 5k.  Regrettably, I chickened out, because the running was not going as well I would have liked. I started doubting whether I wanted to pursue running at all or not.  I did, however, win third place for body fat percentage loss.

I continued on my journey and the weight loss started slowing down.  At the beginning of June 2011, I decided to try running again.  This time all the hard work on the elliptical paid off and I started running short distances immediately.  It was tough, but I knew I could do it.  I decided to sign up for my first 5k, and what better way to mark an anniversary than to sign up for the Midnight Streak?

Since then, I have run a total of three 5K's, one Warrior Dash, a 25k, and a half-marathon. I plan on doing the Midnight Streak again and hopefully another mud run this year. Maybe, just maybe, I will run a full marathon in November.  It's hard to believe that only a little over two years ago I was twice my size and could hardly manage getting up the stairs.

Now running is just a part of who I am. But don't misunderstand me; many days I still have to force myself out the door before I realize that yes, I did really want to go for a run.  I just have to remind myself of why I run and why I enjoy it so much. I run for freedom, peace of mind, size 2 jeans, cheat days, and to control my depression and anxiety issues.  I run to breathe.  I truly run for life.  I can't imagine not being a runner now.

I still receive mail from the different weight loss surgery offices I had visited.  It always makes me smile to see because I am instantly reminded of how far I have come. It's been two years and two months since I started this journey and I have traveled a great distance.  I have lost more than half my body weight.  I have become an athlete.  I instruct Zumba twice a week.  I have deemed myself worthy.  I've regained my pride.

Now I'm focusing on bettering myself in all aspects of my life.  Now when I see something in my life that I'm not happy with, instead of wallowing in despair, I look at how to fix it.  How am I going to make my life better?  It takes work and dedication, but it is by no means impossible.  In fact, it's quite possible:


  1. I love these posts highlighting your team. It's a really great idea! You are all an amazing inspiration!
    I hope Lealah gets to take her after photo with Jared!

  2. Awesome post! I love learning more and more about our team members - simply awesome!

  3. The posts are so great. Your relay team is going to rock!!

  4. Loved Lealah's story. I especially identified with her comment about how she felt doing anything at all was overwhelming when she was overweight. I had no energy and did very little that required any movement at all. And then I read about how trapped she felt. I have this incredible sense of freedom now and just now realized that is because I felt so trapped by my morbid obesity before. Thanks for making me understand that.

  5. I cannot even remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but I'm so glad I did. I needed something like this, and all the other peoples' blogs that are on your team. I have around 120 lbs to lose, and I love running (for the 1 min I can do it at a time) but its a start. Seeing all your pictures and reading your story is incredibly encouraging. so thank you.

  6. Nice to meet you Lealah! I can relate to being too embarrassed to try new things, as I live in Japan and when I go jogging in the park I feel all the tiny Japanese people watching me jiggle as I huff and puff around the track. Awesome pics!

  7. So happy for all of Lealah's accomplishments. My gf is a Zumba instructor in PA and I know what it takes to get a class together and then put yourself out there for everyone to see! Congratulations Lealah!

  8. Awesome Lealah! What an inspiration to stay out from under the knife! So many people think that weight loss surgery fixex everything, and I have so many friends that went under the knife, and now 5 years later are back to where they started because they didn't change their lifestyle. Katie, thanks for sharing her story!


I used to publish ALL comments (even the mean ones) but I recently chose not to publish those. I always welcome constructive comments/criticism, but there is no need for unnecessary rudeness/hate. But please--I love reading what you have to say! (This comment form is super finicky, so I apologize if you're unable to comment)

Featured Posts

Blog Archive