Why do I run?

A lot of people ask me this question. 

 “Erin, why do you run?  How can you do that if no one is chasing you?”

“Are you serious?  You get PLEASURE from running?”

“Erin, what is the deal, you used to whine about walking around the block, and you really did a half marathon?”

Yes, I will admit that at my former 325 lbs I did whine about walking around the block if I had to do so.  I had no energy and my body just couldn’t take the stress of running. 

Now, I run for MANY reasons.  These are just a few.

I decided long before my surgery that once I did it, and made the leap and the commitment, I was in all the way.  I was not going to let myself become a statistic.  I kept hearing from others, who were against WLS things like, “Oh sure my friend’s mom had that surgery and now she weighs more than before she had it done.  I don’t think it works” Comments like that one came at me from all directions and I knew that if I looked at this as a quick fix, they would be right. I knew that if I went back to eating sugary junk and salty snack food and other bad for me foods, I would regain what I had lost.  This was not a joke, but a lifelong commitment.

I knew that two things were going to be KEY if I wanted to make a PERMANENT change.

1. Changing my eating habits and unhealthy relationship with food FOREVER

2. Making exercise a HABIT, not something I do every now and then when I happened to think about it.

At the time, I didn’t think I would end up running.  Trust me my goal was NOT that grand.  I just wanted to make walking a daily thing.  I knew the cardio benefits of walking and knew my knees likely couldn’t take the stress of running, so the goal was a small one.  I wanted to walk 20 minutes a day, three times a week.

As I progressed, I realized how great my body felt and my walks became faster and faster.  I learned that no matter how tired I was, I could take a brisk walk and feel energized!  It was incredible!  Then I discovered Jeff Galloway through our Disney connection and that was it, I was HOOKED!

Jeff uses a program where you run for a certain length of time and then take a one minute walk break.  Even elite marathon runners have learned that they can shave a lot of time off of their runs just by taking a one minute walk break.  That minute gives the muscles time to rest and prevents large amounts of lactic acid buildup which keeps you from feeling fatigued and keeps the soreness down after a run.

This program was perfect for someone who had been morbidly obese and who had knee problems and joint problems.  Before I knew it, my husband and I were running our first 5k.  Then we were craving longer distance and did a 10k and finally signed up for our first half marathon.

I had no clue if I could do it, but wanted to try.  It turned out to be one of the best days of my life.  As we crossed the finish line and I saw two of my sons in the grandstands cheering for me, I cried like a baby.  The best part was that running also became something to bond my husband and I even closer.  We run together.  Every time we do a race, even though he is a lot faster than me and a lot stronger, we run together and ALWAYS cross the finish line together, hand in hand. 

Some think it is silly, but that little gesture on our part is just another symbol of how we view my weight loss journey.  We are partners, in this together, and I could never have gotten to the place where I am now without him holding my hand through the tough parts. 

As a bariatric patient, I had to learn a lot about how to fuel my body for longer runs and how to hydrate during a race.  Someone with a surgically altered inside does not fuel and hydrate the way a “regular” person does.  It was a lot of trial and error, but we finally came up with a system that worked and boy was that a great day!

I run for so many reasons.  At first I think I was running from the fat girl I had left behind.  I never wanted to see her again.  The more I ran, the more I could see the changes in my body.  I found muscle definition beginning to show in my calves.  Then after a bit longer I noticed that the way I was breathing when I ran changed and I could run and carry on a conversation.  I felt my lungs getting stronger. 

About three months into my running, I noticed that although the scale wasn’t really moving, my dress size was changing.  This was a great feeling.  A lot of the old aches and pains I had suffered from were going away as my body grew stronger and stronger.  all of a sudden my knees were better.  While I still use a brace on my right knee for distances over 10 miles, (I suffered a knee injury in a car accident about six years ago that makes that a necessary thing) anything less than ten miles requires no brace and there is no pain.

I run because I love the challenge.  I love trying to beat my last time and pace.  I run because I like the way my body and spirit feel when I am running.  Finishing a race, whether a 5k or a half marathon, makes me feel like I can do ANYTHING. 

Some of my best talks with God and best thinking sessions are while running.  Running is great therapy and a LOT cheaper.  (just don’t scrimp on the shoes)  If I am feeling stressed and overwhelmed, a good two miles and things suddenly look a lot better. 

The old Erin never felt empowered by sitting on the couch watching television and eating crappy foods.  But now, when I combine good eating habits and exercise, I feel like a million bucks.  Running empowers me.  Running makes me remember that my tool does work and that I am not the obese unhealthy slothful individual I felt like before. 

Running makes me happy.  I love going to races and meeting new people.  I am never at the front of the pack and will never win my age division.  But the camaraderie and the bond with other runners is incredible.  Going to the expos and seeing all of the latest gear and gadgets is fun to me.  I love the funny sayings you can get on magnets and t-shirts etc.  It is just a great community…kind of like our WLS community.  The group is made up of all different kids of people of all ages shapes and sizes coming together over a common love….Running…

I have two magnets on my car that came from the expo at Disney…..

I basically run for my health and because I know it is good for my new body.  We were not made to be sedentary creatures.  Our bodies were made to move and to be exercised and used.  I truly believe in my heart that the only way I can maintain long-term success in this journey is to keep my body in motion and keep running away from obesity and running towards health on a daily basis. 

Running brings me health, happiness, energy, stamina, peace, and strength.

That is why I run…..oh yeah, I almost forgot, I also run because I CAN.


About Erin Akey

I am a formerly morbidly obese wife, mother, Christian, author, speaker, water fitness instructor, nutritionist, anti-obesity advocate, and Emerald Ambassador with Plexus Worldwide. I am passionate about helping people fight the disease of obesity and also preventing and addressing obesity in children. I believe we have so many amazing tools available to treat this disease and we all need to take advantage of the ones we feel are right for us. I am also passionate about women taking the time to care for their needs. We live in a world where so many of us spend all of our time taking care of others that we neglect ourselves. I am all about making God the center of everything and letting His will take control of our lives and watching the beautiful blessings come from that release of power! Live, Laugh, and LOVE every day! Be grateful and be humble and watch the world around you change!
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2 Responses to Why do I run?

  1. Sheri says:

    Hi Erin..I just found your website while doing some research and it is very inspiring. Congrats on all of your successes thus far.You are truly inspiring. I have a question if you don’t mind? I am almost 3 years out and recently found a love for running. I have been running for 5 mo. and have completed two 5ks. But I want to take it further… I do great on my own running 5-6 miles at an easy pace however I struggle with races. I tire easily and am having difficluty with the fuel part. I have basically lived a carb free life since surgery and now am finding I need carbs to fuel my runs especially on race days. I have lost 113 lbs. and like you the scale does not move but there is a difference in my clothes. Can you provide me any info on what you found works for you? I do not dump and have no limitations on sugar but the stats on all the “fuel” over the counter scares me. It is hard to discuss with running friends as no one knows my past surgery history. I have been hoping to find a book on the topic but to no avail… Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer

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