Name: Ashley Ramirez
Occupation: College student
Hometown: Slidell, Louisiana
Start Weight: 230 pounds
End Weight: 130 pounds
Time Running: 1 year
I weighed around 150 pounds when I started college. I was set to have ankle surgery in December of my freshman year, so I needed to wear a walking boot. I was unable to work out or do any kind of physical activity the whole semester. Plus, I was emotional-eating like crazy, since I was so nervous about the surgery that was still months away. I experienced the dreaded freshman 15—and then some.
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After that first surgery, I ended up undergoing two more orthopedic surgeries: the same surgery on my left ankle and a hip surgery. I was in and out of physical therapy, and it was nearly impossible for me to implement any fitness regimen. I finally reached 230 pounds.
I completed the Disney College Program in Fall 2016, and I had the best time, but when I got home and shared my pictures with my friends and families, I couldn't believe the person I saw. I was so unhappy with the way I looked, and I was dealing with a lot of pain from all of my surgeries. My doctors agreed that losing weight would help alleviate some of that pain. Honestly, I just wanted to feel better about myself again, so I decided to make a change.
My journey started on the treadmill because I was too ashamed to walk on the sidewalk. Those walks felt never ending, but I started small and built my way up to adding running intervals into my training. It is crazy to think that I began my training by just trying to walk 15 minutes a day. The walks were also eye-opening for me because I truly realized how out of shape I was.
Once I felt comfortable walking for 30 minutes at a pretty steady pace, I began adding running intervals into my workouts. I’ve really relied on the Galloway run-walk-run method. From there, I have built up my intervals to increase my time running and decrease my time walking.
What also helped was early on my mom got involved. My mom was never a runner. The only “running” experience she had was she would walk the Crescent City Classic 10K every year while my dad ran it. She knew I loved Disney. So she signed us up for the Disney Princess 5K in February 2018. I think she thought by signing up for the race, it would light a fire under my butt to get myself back into shape.
Truthfully, my mom and I did not train at all for our first 5K. I think we felt like we were more prepared than we truly were. My mom and I just love going to Disney World. You can’t beat running throughout the parks and meeting Disney characters on the course.
Still, the race was surreal, and a wave of emotions hit me when we crossed the finish line. I started to tear up because a year ago, I would have never thought this was possible, and it was such an incredible feeling to accomplish such a feat. That feeling is what’s kept me motivated and continues to fuel my passion for running.
Since that first race, I have taken my training more seriously, and have completed several 5Ks and 10Ks in Disney and New Orleans. I also completed my first half marathon, and the Two Course Challenge at Wine and Dine at Disney, where I ran the 10K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday. What’s even better is I’m down to 130 pounds, and I feel amazing.
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I have several races lined up for the year, and I am hoping to run a half marathon under 2:30. I am also signing up to run in my first marathon for 2020. I am having left hip surgery in March, so in July, I will begin training for the Dopey Challenge, a 5K, 10K, half marathon and marathon in January 2020. Thiis year will be a major training year for me.
Diet has also played a major role in my weight loss. When I truly committed to a healthier lifestyle, I knew I needed all the help I could get, so I made an appointment to meet with a nutritionist who pushed me towards a balanced diet and focusing on getting a decent amount of protein everyday.
The first year when I lost the bulk of my weight, I was focused on a low carb diet. Once I began really training, I spent a lot of time researching about nutrition geared toward a running diet. I have also focused on gaining control over my emotional eating, and I use running as a form of therapy instead of food if I am upset or stressed.
The advice I have for anyone going through a similar journey is to start small and appreciate the process. Change will not happen over night. It is all about being consistent in your training and your diet, but you shouldn't torture yourself. Indulging is okay in moderation.
It is so easy to get frustrated, whether it is with the number on the scales or your paces during training runs or races, but there will always be the good and bad days. It is how you push through the bad days that will make you a better runner and a better person. If you had told me a year and a half ago that I would be a runner, I would have straight up laughed in your face. I was never a runner but honestly anything is possible. Don’t let your self doubts hold you back.
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