As transformations go, Abi Wright's couldn't be greater. Shedding a massive 14 stone she went from not being able to walk up the stairs to completing the London Marathon. This is her inspirational story.
"This time last year, my alarm was set for 05.20am, ready to wake me up for the biggest day of my life – the London Marathon.
"Not that I needed it. I’d been lying there all night thinking about my journey to this point and how I was going to complete my ultimate challenge.
I couldn’t walk up stairs without feeling out of breath. If you’d told me I’d be running marathons, I would have laughed in your face
"Five years ago I was 25 and a half stone. I couldn’t walk up stairs without feeling out of breath. If you’d told me then that I’d be running marathons, I would have laughed in your face. But since 2010, I've lost 14 stone through a combination of eating well, exercising regularly, hard work, and determination.
“Growing up, I was always active and enjoyed sports but I started to put on weight when I was around 15 or 16. I suppose when you’re younger your parents control what you eat, but as I got older I had more choice over what, and how much I ate.
"My weight gain was gradual so I didn’t notice just how much I was putting on at first. Yes, my jeans would get tighter but instead of doing something about it I’d just buy the next size up.
Dieting's hard if you’ve just got a stone or two to lose, but when you’ve got 15 it’s a massive task to get your head around
“Things got worse when I moved to Surrey to study. As well as eating I was drinking most nights and generally living an unhealthy student lifestyle.
After college I started a career as a medical sales rep. Travelling to appointments in the car and eating at service stations wasn’t ideal. I found myself snacking on grab bag crisps and Wispa Golds.
"I tried a few diets but I only lasted five minutes. Dieting is hard if you’ve just got a stone or two to lose, but when you’ve got 15 it’s a massive task to get your head around. You need to be ready to give it your all.
"The bigger I got the more depressed I became. I hated what I was doing to myself but it’s a vicious circle. The more down I got, the more I ate to try and cheer myself up.
The Catalyst For Change
I didn’t want my nieces and nephews to be embarrassed if I went to pick them up at the school gates
"One day, as I was walking with my young niece in town, something clicked. I realised I didn’t want to be the type of auntie who was too big to play with her. I didn’t want my nieces and nephews to be embarrassed if I went to pick them up at the school gates. I knew my BMI was dangerous and if I didn’t do something about it my life would be shortened.
"My sister and her friends had started an exercise group they called the Kick-Ass Club as a way of encouraging each other to work out. I decided to join in.
"I started gradually, walking and cycling by a reservoir near my house and working out at home. The first stone came off really quickly and, as I started to lose weight and exercise, I began to look more at my diet.
"A friend who works in the fitness industry gave me some advice about using food as fuel. I set myself small manageable weight loss goals, and swapped takeaways and fatty snacks for porridge and fruit, lean meat and veg. I even invested in a refrigerated glove compartment so I could take my lunch with me in the car when I was working.
I was loving my new healthy lifestyle, but there was still one thing I wanted to master – running
"I’m not going to say it was easy, I found cutting down on alcohol particularly tough, but I knew if I wanted quicker results I had to be strict with myself.
"I was loving my new healthy lifestyle, but there was still one thing I wanted to master – running.
Getting My Run On
"I hadn’t been able to run for years but I knew the thing I found the hardest was the thing that was going to do me the most good. So I began running for a few seconds, walking for a few seconds, and building it up. Eventually, in May 2012, I ran my first mile and a half without stopping. I was so pleased I phoned my sister and cried down the phone.
My marathon training involved a lot of tough, long runs in cold winter weather, but there was no way I wasn’t making it to that start line
"I'd got the running bug, and my cousin persuaded me to enter a 5k race with him. Before long I'd completed a 10k, a duathlon, and the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon too. I enjoyed them so much I eventually signed up for the ultimate, the London Marathon!
"It was such a massive challenge for me, I knew there was a lot of hard work ahead, but I was ready for it. My marathon training involved a lot of tough, long runs in cold winter weather. I also had problems with my lower back and glutes, but there was no way I wasn’t making it to that start line!
"When the big day arrived I headed to the start with my friend Allan, and before I knew it we were off and running. I felt amazing. I couldn’t believe I was actually a part of the London Marathon. That amazing feeling didn't last the whole way though!
"After a few miles I was sore, everything ached and there were points where I struggled to go on, but every time I saw my friends and family cheering, and thought of all the support I’d received at work and over social media, it gave me a boost.
The finish line appeared and everything I’ve worked for over the past few years seemed worth it
"The highlight of the race, was the 800 yards to go mark. My supporters were all there cheering and running alongside me. The finish line appeared and everything I’ve worked for over the past few years seemed worth it.
"Allan said to me, ‘this is it, let’s go’. I pushed and pushed and although it seemed like the line was going further away, suddenly I was crossing it.
"I had completed the London Marathon! The medal was placed over my head, and I shuffled to meet my supporters. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I had run 26.2 miles!
"Sunday 13 of April 2014 has been the best day of my life so far. And I want people to know if I can do it, you can too.
"You don’t need a personal trainer, a gym membership or a gastric band to lose weight and start exercising. Yes it’s hard to turn your life around, you need the support of your family and friends, and you have to really want to do it. But you can do it, and you’ll feel so much better for it."
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