June 9, 2012

Allison's story

I'd like to introduce you to Allison, runner #10 on our Ragnar Relay Florida Keys team. Allison was actually a mystery to me when Rik and I first started this whole project. Rik said she would be great for the team, and I trusted his judgement. He couldn't have been more right! 

At first, Allison wasn't sure if she belonged on our team--because she is still in the middle of her weight loss journey. But I think that makes her very relatable to so many people who are where she is at this point. She is definitely a success story already--as you'll see below--but you'll get to see her change even more as this project continues. 

The whole team has welcomed her with open arms, and we are very happy to have her as part of our team. And I've discovered that, out of everybody on the team, Allison is the one who I probably have the most in common with--she reminds me so much of ME! ;)  Anyway, enjoy her story--she doesn't have a blog, so it's a little long, but she definitely has a knack for writing...

My entire life, I’ve thought of myself as fat. Fifteen years ago, when I graduated high school, I was 160 pounds and borrowing my boyfriend’s size 36 jeans because I liked how they sat low on my hips. Ironic, now, since my goal weight is 160. Yes, goal weight. I’ve dubbed myself the team WIP (work-in-progress) because, though I’m currently down 40 pounds, I’ve not yet lost all of my weight.

Growing up, my family’s (tongue-in-cheek) motto was “Butter and/or bacon makes everything better.” Dad was (and still is) an amazing cook, and was heavy-handed on portions, but since the food was so good, no one minded, and we all went back for seconds. I don’t, for a second, blame his cooking AT ALL for my weight; I didn’t start chubbing up until I lived on my own. 

My hearty appetite was always a terrible mismatch for my sedentary lifestyle. In school, I was into theatre, yearbook, school newspaper, math team, chess team…notice the lack of anything athletic? As a kid (okay, as an adult, too), I was happiest curled up with a book, and my parents would force me outside…where I’d promptly sit down and continue reading.

After high school, I was on my own, working, going to college, and not eating anything that didn’t come from a box or a bag. Well, there WERE those canned stews… And take-out. Lots of take-out. “Fresh” described my attitude, not anything I ate. Too bad there aren’t salad delivery services. Six years after high school, I hit my (then) top weight of 248 pounds. I joined Weight Watchers at work and lost 50 pounds in 13 months! Then my company was sold, I got a new job, and I stopped WW because I was “sick of counting Points” and could “do this on my own now.” Guess how that turned out?

Yup, though I had learned about portion control from WW, the weight crept back on until I was 220, where I leveled for the next couple of years. In 2006, I started dating Jason (now hubby) and gained a lot of “happy” fat. I was happy about the new relationship, not about the weight! By the time we were married in October 2008, I was back in the 240s and 6 months later, hit my all-time high of 262.

I was furious with myself. What bride GAINS weight for her wedding?! I was supposed to have LOST weight for my wedding…for my college graduation…when I turned 25…24… 21…every year was always THE YEAR I’d lose weight. Every winter, I’d pack my sweaters away saying, “They won’t fit next year,” and every fall, I’d unpack the exact same sweaters and wear them through the next winter. 

Shortly after getting married
I’ve always wanted a nice coat and never bought one because it was “silly to spend the money when it won’t fit me next year because I’ll have lost so much weight.” I realized I could have owned the nice coat for the past 10 years…and it would have fit fine every winter. I was sick of only being able to shop at plus-sized stores. I was sick of spending summers planning what to wear that wouldn’t show sweat lines from my back fat or wondering if I should wear shorts instead of a dress so my thighs wouldn’t chafe.

I knew someone who’d had gastric bypass surgery, and, though I knew I didn’t want surgery, loved the nutritional counseling she’d had, so I looked into how to get the nutritional help without the surgery. Ridiculously, my insurance would pay for the counseling associated with surgery, but not for the counseling itself. 

Honeymoon in Hawaii
I looked for local nutritionists and found a (reasonably priced!) one who designed a balanced plan for me of 1400-1500 calories per day, with foods I loved (Cheese?! Pasta?!?). I followed the plan for 3 months and lost 35 pounds! Then…I stopped. I thought I “deserved a break,” but I never came back from break. How do you spell self-defeating? M-E. A year later, in 2010, I was back up to 240.

Around this time, Jason and I were planning our second
trip to Hawai’i. Right after our wedding, we had honeymooned there, touring the islands. I’d been most looking forward to taking a helicopter tour of the Na Pali coast on Kauai, but we found out I was so heavy I’d have to pay for a second seat, so we didn’t do it, settling for a boat cruise instead. 

We loved Hawai’i and I said that if we were ever able to come back, I wouldn’t be so fat and we’d go on the helicopter. In planning our trip to celebrate our second anniversary, I realized that I was the exact same weight I was on our honeymoon, which meant, once again, there’d be no helicopter tour. I was angry and disappointed with myself because I had PROMISED myself I’d lose weight, and, even worse, I HAD lost some…and gained it all back.

 I hadn’t realized it until I was writing my story, but the Hawai’i trip was when I snapped. Through all of my weight up and down over the years, I’d taken boot camp classes on and off and had run laps for warm-ups. At 240 pounds, I decided to start running and registered for a 5K (to my family’s total bewilderment). I found the Couch-to-5K plan online and started week 1, day 1 on June 1, 2010.

Finishing the first 5K!
Two days later, I was rear-ended by a drunk driver on my way to work, screwing up my knee and sending me to physical therapy for the next 2 months. Frustrated, but strangely undeterred, I started C25K again on August 2, and ran my 1st 5K on October 23 with my whole family there to cheer me on. My parents, sister, brother, and husband were standing at the finish line cheering for me; the announcer asked them my name and I crossed the finish line of my first race to the sound of my name being screamed by my family over the loudspeaker!

When I ran that first day of C25K (1 minute jog alternated with 90 seconds of walking, repeated for 20 minutes), I thought I was going to die. By the time I got to the third repeat of jogging, I was gasping for air, my legs hurt, I was sweating, and I couldn’t figure out why I was doing this to myself. The second day was a little bit better, and I started to be proud of what I was doing. A couple of times, I had to repeat a week of the plan because I wasn’t ready to move on and increase my running time. I finished my first 5K in just under 40 minutes and had never been more proud of myself.

I ran three more 5Ks over the winter and was then laid off in March 2011. While nervous about being out of work, I embraced the free time and started boot camp again, increased my running, and ran four more 5Ks until, in mid-June 2011, I fell during a boot camp class, and shattered my wrist. The funny thing is that I’ve fallen harder at home tripping over one of my cats; this time, I landed JUST the right way, or rather wrong way! 

I had to have surgery, had a titanium plate and a whole bunch of screws put in, went through loads of physical and occupational therapy, and 2 months to the day after I fell, got the doctor’s OK to run again and had my “come-back” race 2 weeks later. I did walk a 5K the week after my surgery; I’d been registered for months and was SO frustrated I couldn’t run it, so my husband offered to walk it with me!   I’m glad we did it because being surrounded by the runners and the crowd reminded me how much I enjoyed running and made me antsy to get back to it!

I’ve run more than a dozen 5Ks since that 1st one, have a bunch more scheduled for this summer, and am training for my first half-marathon this October! I love getting outside to run, and am thrilled every time I run a route a little bit faster, or run a little further. Compared to most runners, I’m not fast: I run an 11:30 – 12:00 minute pace. Compared to my 15:00 minute pace when I first started, I’m a speed demon!

I count calories, staying between 1200-1400 each day, and am averaging a loss of about 1 pound per week. Keeping with this plan, I’ll be out of the 200s by Ragnar…well into the 100s, actually! I felt funny joining such an amazing group of people who’ve all lost such significant weight since I’m not “there” yet. Funny, that is, until my wonderful and inspiring teammates reminded me that they’d all been where I am, and they all welcomed me whole-heartedly; now, I’m okay with being the team WIP and I am thrilled to be part of this incredible experience with these fantastic people!
40 pounds down


  1. AllIson, you so deserve to be a part of this team! Congratulations on your success, keep up the inspiring strides!

  2. Congrats on everything! I love your story and I'm excited for you to go back to Hawaii for that helicopter ride! Can't wait to see/hear/read the rest of your story!

  3. Now, this story really hits home to me! I have been there. All of it! The up, the down, the excuses for gaining and losing and gaining and losing. I even gained weight for my wedding as well. It's so good to read this story and know that someone out there is exactly where I am right now. Thank you for sharing with us!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story Allison. This was exactly what I needed to read this week. You are an inspiration! Team WIP!!!

  5. Inspiring! I'm down 27 lbs in my journey, with a lot more to go! Team WIP! Nice to meet you Allison!

  6. I loved reading Allison's story...her and I seem to be in the same place...I'm down 29.4 lbs...0.6 from being out of the 200's ...it's been two weeks I'm hoping this week was my last week in the 200's...and we run the exact same pace...I feel the same way about it, when I started it was a 15 minute mile, a 12 minute mile feels so fast to me...thanks for all the inspiration from everyone on here...and we ALL can do this!!!

  7. This is a great story! Thanks for sharing! Allison is an inspiration and definitely deserves to be on the team!

  8. Such a great story. I'm so glad that Allison shared her story and wish her the best as she continues on her weight loss journey.

  9. This has echoes of my weight loss journey, too! Thanks for sharing. I love that she (and your team) are doing Ragnar. It's on my *new* running wish list! :)

  10. AnonymousJune 10, 2012

    Great story! Anyone really overweight tends to think in terms of putting things off until they are thin. Like her coat buying. So smart and such a good example you both are to run where you are - - so you won't stay there. Plus it is an act of love for yourself (just like a coat would have been - to keep yourself warm). We devalue ourselves when heavy. It may not be where we want to be, but it is not a crime.

  11. Hi Allison.....Katie is so right about you having a knack for writing. I enjoyed reading your story and feel inspired to go out and run a couple of miles today. You are a great addition to the relay team. It was terrific getting to know you. Take care.

  12. Allison,

    Katie has inspired me so much since I started reading her blog a few months ago so you couldn't have a better mentor. I've read all the biographies of the other Ragnar team members and have been in awe of each and every one of them. However, something about your story really spoke to me. I just feel like I can really relate to you. The fact that after trying so many times you're succeeding and are determined to get healthy makes me feel like it could be a reality for me too. Its so hard not to get discouraged and I'm tired of letting my weight dictate what I do and who I am. You've showed me it's possible as long as I don't give up.

    Thank you so much for that. And Katie, thanks for everything you do for your blog. You have to realize just how many lives you are touching with each and every blog post you put out there. Thank you.

    Bridgette Warner

  13. Congrats on you accomplishments this far - Very inspiring!

  14. I am so happy that you are a part of this team, your journey and story are amazing and we are lucky to have you. xoxo

  15. This is a wonderfully inspiring, story! Thank you for sharing. I have just run my 3rd 5k and am *considering* doing a 10k, but I'm still so slow and fear coming in last, so I'm going to get a few more 5ks under my belt first. I'm glad you talked about injuries, too, because after my 5k this weekend, I almost completely tore off my big toe nail (and completely stubbed and bruised two other toes) on my left foot. How? Getting into bed for a nap and hitting the toes on the doggy stairs. I'm not sure if I should continue running this week or not. I'm going to put on a my shoes tonight and start by walking and see how I feel... Thanks for the inspiration not to give up!

  16. LOVE this!!! You seriously need a blog. I loved reading this. :)

  17. Allison, we're all works in progress! I'm still working on those last 10-15 pounds, working to get faster and run longer... it'll never end!

    Oh, and when I honeymooned in HI in '95, I weighed 234 pounds and there was no extra fee for the helicopter tour. They must've changed that since then or I definitely would've been charged.

  18. I love Allison!! Reminds me a lot of me! :D

  19. What a wonderful and inspiring story! I really enjoyed reading this...can't wait to hear more of her journey!

  20. First of all, congratulations on your success so far. Your story is truly inspiring. I have also struggled with weight loss and like you, gained weight before my wedding instead of losing. I'm determined to start running. Thank you for sharing. This just motivates me even more to reach my goal weight of 140. I've got 40lbs to go! Here's to reaching our goals! Cheers!


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