Before I had my kids, I worked in a very stressful job in the entertainment industry and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. I gave that up and then had my two sons in two years. The combination left me 30 pounds overweight.
I started walking around the track at the park. Briskly. Each revolution was a quarter-mile and I went around eight times. In conjunction with that I started a weight-loss plan because I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong on my own. I bought the diet company's boxed foods and drank a lot of water. The pounds fell off, but I was still 10 pounds more than I wanted to be.
Then I started running. Running is great because it's free. You can do it whenever and wherever you want, and the supplies consist only of a good pair of running shoes.
And I was blessed because I found a friend to run with. Mary and I would start out running for as long as we could, then switch to walking fast, then back to running when we caught our breath. The amazing thing is that as we increased our running distances, we unwittingly trained our bodies to talk and run at the same time. At first there was a lot of gasping, but there's nothing like the determination of a woman trying to make a point to push herself to work through that.
We ran three miles around Balboa Golf Course in Encino three to five times a week right after we dropped our kids off at school. Little by little, our run together became a mini-therapy session for both of us, a time when we could rant and rave about our kids, our husbands and all the injustices in the world. After a while, like all habits, it didn't feel right on the days we missed.
Last spring we pushed ourselves to 5 1/2 miles three times a week. The increase really changed my body and I realized that I needed to be moving and sweating for an hour for it to affect my metabolism. I also started limiting my lunch two or three times a week to just juice or vegetables, then having a regular dinner. And remember, portion size is everything when you're trying to lose. Once I reached my goal, as long as I kept exercising, I could enjoy eating again.
Now I am the weight I want to be, and on July 4 of last year I celebrated my own Independence Day by running in my first 10K--6.2 miles. As my friend Stuart said, "I can hardly drive 6.2 miles!"
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Losing weight is as individual as gaining weight. Do you have a story on how you got in shape and stayed there? If so, we'd like to hear from you with a 500-word essay listing what worked in terms of diet, exercise, encouragement / support as well as your emotional and physical changes.
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Name: Ellen Van Patten
Occupation: Writer /
Old weight: 150
New weight: 120
Time to get there: 24 months