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When She Couldn’t Finish a Hike, She Started Running and Tracking Macros—and Lost 148 Pounds

She clocked just over a mile on her runs in March 2020. Now she’s training for a marathon.

olivia podscianski how running changed me
Courtesy Olivia Podscianski

Name: Olivia Podscianski
Age: 23
Hometown: Belleville, Ontario, Canada
Occupation: Correctional Nurse
Start Weight: 303 pounds
End Weight: 155 pounds
Time Running: Approximately 2 years on and off running, 1 year running often

Before I started my weight loss journey, I had a lot of struggles being obese, especially when I was a teenager. In the summers I would work in a hot kitchen and experience such bad chafing between my thighs that I would sometimes be unable to walk. My feet would get so swollen from the summer heat, and I was not confident enough to wear shorts and tank tops. Just walking up a flight of stairs would have me winded. I also was unable to ride rollercoasters—in the summer of 2017, I maxed out many of the rides’ size limits. What a horrible feeling!

My turning point came in August 2017. I had moved out west to British Columbia to work for the summer season with an ex-boyfriend. We had been together for about three years and both did nothing but sit, eat, and gain weight. At the end of the season, my dad came to visit me and we went for a mountain hike. I was unable to hike for five minutes without stopping. My ankles were so swollen they were overflowing my running shoes.

I had never seen my dad cry, but that day he did when he told me, “I really just don’t want my daughter to leave this earth before me.” It really hit me. I got back to Ontario after ending my relationship and booked an appointment with my doctor for the first time in years. That is when I stepped on the scale and saw I weighed 303 pounds.

Although I was always a “bigger girl” through high school and middle school, I loved sports and had tried to be involved in a lot of teams. I played rugby and did quite a bit of running, but running didn’t seriously become a part of my life until coronavirus hit in March 2020.

I started using the outdoors as my gym, and was running almost daily. I was going on 3 kilometer runs (about 1.86 miles) about five to six times a week, and I really started noticing a difference in my body.

In May 2021, I got an Apple Watch and felt motivated again. Nike Run Club was everything I needed. I used their free guided runs to learn more about proper technique and keep my mind busy.

I also changed my diet. Before, it was fast food, fast food, and more fast food. I overindulged on snacks, eating full bags of crackers, four to five freezer waffles at a time and drank TONS of sugary drinks, like Fruitopia, Frappuccino iced coffees, and orange juice. In the beginning, I cut out liquid calories and that is the best thing I could have done for myself.

Most of my weight loss has been due to tracking my macros on MyFitnessPal. I aim for 1,600 calories a day with moderate carbs, fat, and high protein.

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I joined my friend’s run club, and realized I could run farther than a 3K. I started adding 6 to 7K runs into my week. Then, I said why the heck not, and signed up for the Toronto Waterfront Marathon’s 10K race in October 2021. I was shocked to finish in 1:00:06–it was my 10K personal best.

Now, I am training for my first full marathon, the Chicago Marathon. I am using Run With Hal, a marathon training program on my phone. Currently, I am focusing on my “base training.” This involves five to six runs a week ranging from 2.5K to 10K in distance.

I have now lost 148 pounds. I never would believe you if you told me I would be running the Chicago Marathon this year. At 303 pounds, I was crying in the mirror obsessing over how I thought I’d never get to where I want to be. Now, I am the happiest I’ve ever been.

It takes a bit of time and effort to build running into your routine, but eventually it becomes easier. It’s not a chore anymore. To see your own running improvement is truly a magical feeling.

These three tips have made my running journey a success:

1. Track your macros

It doesn’t need to become an unhealthy obsession. It can teach you how to eat intuitively and how much food and drinks are nutritionally worth it to you.

2. Get in your steps

You don’t need to do two workouts a day or workout seven times a week to lose weight. Simply adding in a 30-minute walk will do more than you think.

3. Try new things

I did not think when I was 303 pounds that I would ever be able to run 3K, let alone a marathon. Trying new activities and practicing them to see your progress never fails to feel great.

Olivia’s Must-Have Gear

AirPods: I could not run without music or podcasts. If my Airpods died, I would probably call it quits!

Nathan Trail Mix Plus Hydration Belt: This is so comfortable, I forget that I’m even wearing it. It’s great for staying hydrated on long runs, and fits my iPhone 13 and keys or a snack.

Lululemon Fast and Free High-Rise Tight 25”: These hold all the rolls in, and have a tight waistband so they don’t fall down. They also have pockets for your phone or credit cards. They’re so comfortable and warmer for cooler runs.

Apple Watch: I love to track my runs and see my progress.

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