There’s nothing more inspiring than seeing a friend make a lifestyle change. My friend since elementary school, Leisha, has made some awesome transformations in the last two years and I’m very proud of her. I also think her story can provide motivation for individuals thinking about taking that next step towards a healthier lifestyle. All of this took a lot of hard work and determination but just two years later her life is entirely different. See what she did, how she did it, and how you can do it too!
Johanna: You recently completed a half marathon; way to go! What inspired you to start running and when did you start?
Leisha: First off I have never been an athlete. I never ran in high school. I actually would protest the mile run in P.E.! I knew I needed to do something after seeing a picture of me holding my second daughter when she was about 6 months old (see photo below). I knew something had to change for my girls. I wanted to lead a healthier life and to serve as a role model for them. I’m a big believer that you need to lead by example so I did a total revamp of ME! I changed my diet and started exercising. I had printed off the Couch to 5K program about a year before even starting it and two years ago (August 2011) I finally started. That first week I could barely run for 1 minute! By the end of the 8-week program I was running 3 miles! Geno (our high school P.E. teacher) would be proud! Since then I have completed the Bridge to 10K program. My cousin’s wife just ran the Women Rock Half Marathon. I looked into it and said “I’M IN!” so I signed up for it last September. Throughout my half training I fell in love with running even more. It’s amazing in just 2 years the progress I’ve made. Running has made me a better person in so many ways!
J: What kept you motivated while you trained for your half?
L: I wanted to show my daughters (and family) that when you put your mind to something and set a goal it takes work to achieve it! This was the ultimate goal for me. To go from barely running 1 minute to running 13.1 miles, needless to say I’m pretty proud of that. The transformation in myself kept me going. A shout out to my SOLE SISTER, Tiff, a friend I got into running and who is training for her first half! We would run our long runs together; it was so great plus it helped me stay accountable. I had to get out of bed to run because she was waiting for me. I couldn’t hit snooze or turn off my alarm! The best moment of the half marathon was crossing that finish line and hearing my girls yelling MOMMY! I ran over to them and hugged and kissed them! My mom later told me she overheard my oldest say “That was awesome!” Knowing I’ve inspired my girls is the best.
J: You are a busy mom to two small kids plus you have a career, a husband, and friends! How did you find time for training?
L: If you try and find the time you won’t! I MAKE the time. I would always schedule my runs and workouts every week. I knew how many miles and how many circuit training (biking, lifting weights, etc.) days I needed and I would lay them out on a calendar. Checking it off has a sense of accomplishment all in itself. I even got my daughters some free weights and they would work out with me! They enjoyed it and kept asking if they were getting healthy too!
J: When we were in junior high we were obsessed with TLC and Salt-N-Pepa (we were also obsessed with Noah Wyle, Friends, temporary tattoos, and blue eyeshadow but that’s a whole different story). Do you listen to music when you run?
L: Yes, I love my music and there are even some TLC and SNP on my playlist and I think of you every time those songs come on! I have everything from 80’s rock to Michael Jackson to the Black Eyed Peas to Miranda Lambert, Justin Timberlake, and Pink! The list goes on and on. There are a few songs that really get me going though!
J: What health results have you seen since you started running?
L: As I stated earlier, running has done so much for me in so many ways. Since the beginning of my Health Quest I have lost almost 50 pounds and since I started running I’ve lost about 30! To me it’s not about the number on the scale anymore; it’s about staying active. I want to be able to do push ups, cross the monkey bars – I want to be fit, not just skinny! With running (and a healthy diet) fat just started melting off me.
Here’s her before and after picture!
J: What other fun ways do you stay active?
L: I started lifting weights and LOVE seeing definition in my muscles! I just started a Zumba class and I’m also going to start Pilates again as I feel it really helped with my running form and back/core strength. I might run the half with my friend in a few weeks and then another in October!
J: What advice do you have for a busy mom who might want to train for a half marathon?
L: If you want it go get it. Make the time. I would get up early and run so I was done before my girls even woke up. Another way to do this is to get your kids involved. My oldest sometimes rides her bike while I run! When I started running 2 years ago and the girls were smaller, I got a double stroller and they had a lot of fun! They were great encouragement (go faster mommy, weeeee!) and it was also great for my stamina – pushing a 50 pound stroller with 50 pounds of kids in it is tough!
So there you have it; another great success story! Leisha wants to remind everyone that there are running programs for all types of runners so don’t let anything get in your way of accomplishing what might seem like a long shot dream. As I said, I’m proud of her and am happy that we can add another thing to our list of common interests: fitness! Lastly, I couldn’t help but add a photo of us since she’s my friend! Here we are at our 10-year class reunion in 2010, before her transformation!