I am Brandi, and I am a former fat girl who runs. Before I go any further, let me say I hate the word fat. I hate people having labels thrown on them based on their size. It does not define who they are as a person or should it ever be used to judge how good of a heart they have. In my case, fat is unfortunately the best way to describe my former physical body.
In 2006, I weighed over 450 lbs. I was fat, morbidly obese, and very unhealthy. I had tried fad diets in the past, but my heart was never really in it, and I was in a lot of denial about my size and how unhealthy I was.
August 2006, I got sick with staph infection and like a ton of bricks my size hit me. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) was not able to help me, I was too heavy and I had to have someone sponge bath me because physically I could not take care of myself. I made a decision then and there I was going to change.
I started tracking my food, getting in exercise and over the next few years dropped 150 lbs. Life happens, we moved and unfortunately I gained back 70 lbs that I had lost. We got married, I changed jobs and started at the gym with a personal trainer. As hard as I tried, in 2010 I could not get my weight back under 350 lbs.
I went to my GP who tested my blood to ensure there was nothing wrong, and he recommended referring me to a bariatric surgeon to look at weight loss surgery. May 2011 was my first consult with the surgeon, and we decided that I would go through with the process for RNY (gastric bypass surgery).
Now, I want to be clear on this. Yes, I had surgery and yes my stomach is smaller and I have had my intestines re-arranged for lack of better words. November 14, 2011 was surgery and I weighed 352 lbs. But never think that surgery was the easy way out and solved all my problems.
Surgery made it so that my food intake was less, but it also made me not be able to tolerate certain foods anymore and my body not fully absorb all nutrients. I was given the clearance to start full exercise January 2012, and I had already set a goal to run a half marathon by 2013.
I started out at 335 lbs running on a track near my house, and some days I thought I was going to die. People who were walking would lap me, and I felt so discouraged and frustrated. But I kept going, kept plugging away. My friends and family were a huge support with my goals, and besides a handful of my family and few friends I had kept my surgery a secret.
September 2012 I signed up to run Vancouver’s BMO Half Marathon on May 5, 2013. I was barely running 6k at this point and hadn’t even completed my first race but I was determined.
In that timeframe I completed:
Energizer Night Race 10k
Vancouver Historic Half 10k
Vancouver Chilly Chase 15k
Fort Langley Historic Half 10k
Golden Ears Bridge 10k
Vancouver Spring Run Off 8k
Vancouver Sun Run 10k
I started running with people from the Running Room in March 2013 and it was the best thing I ever did. I already bought my gear and shoes there but felt too slow and ashamed to run with them. I didn’t realize what a support group they were, or the friends I would make, or how much it would help push me to achieve my goals.
I met friends who were running their first half at BMO and we trained together with our long runs. They became less of a punishment and more something I looked forward to every weekend. We also signed up to do our second half on May 26 before we had even finished our first.
By this point with my running, I had gotten my weight down to 205 lbs, and was feeling awesome. I was scheduled for a lower body lift on June 14 to remove the excess skin around my waist and hips from being overweight for so long. I had come out about surgery and the support I received was phenomenal.
I am now 8 weeks out from my lower body lift where they removed 10 lbs of skin. I am sitting between 186-190 lbs and training to run my first full marathon in May 2014. I have dealt with a lot of emotions and issues with all this, trying to discover who I am and not feel like a stranger in my own body.
I still think of myself as a fat girl, but I know I am healthy and that’s what matters. And I have a whole new world open to me with this choice I made, and a whole new set of challenges that will arise as well. But running has become my therapy in so many ways.