I never expected to love running!
Mum-of-two Mary Watkins, 36, thought exercise wasn’t for her – until she took up running. Here’s how getting active supercharged her 7st 12½lb weight loss.
‘Lacing up the trainers that I barely wore, I hoped my husband, Dafydd, would get home from work before I could talk myself out of my plans. As he walked through the front door, I blurted out: “The kids are in bed and I’m going for a run.” As I saw his eyebrows raise, I couldn’t blame him for his surprise – I’d surprised myself. Why on earth was I about to put myself through this?
‘In my heart, I knew why. Earlier that month, on a July day on holiday in Yorkshire, I’d watched my son, Freddie, then four, running up a grassy hill as my sister joyfully raced after him. Lagging behind, I wished I had more energy.
‘I’d recently joined my local Slimming World group in Crowborough, run by Joanne Thomas, to discover I weighed 17st 1½lbs. While I’d lost over a stone already, I still had a way to go until target, and I got out of breath easily. I’d been walking Freddie and his younger brother, Walter, to and from preschool as my Body Magic.
‘Once school was out for the summer, I needed to find another way to get active. That’s when it hit me. Maybe I’d try running while the boys were in bed. I’d never really been active and, over the years, my size had crept up from a 12 to a 20. Though I got down to 13st for our wedding by restricting my calories, since then I’d had two babies and put it all back on. Still unhappy with my weight, I finally decided to join Slimming World.
A new routine
‘I’m not going to pretend I enjoyed that first run. I got about 400 metres, then stopped, my lungs searing. Somehow I made it around the block. A few days later, at 8.30pm, I was waiting for Dafydd at the front door again, determined to have another go. The fourth time I went out, I made it around without stopping. Then a few months in, my size-18 leggings fell down and I had to run all the way home holding them up!
Soon, I wasn’t running to help support my weight loss any more. I was running because I enjoyed it.
‘It was my “me time” and it made me feel free. And eventually, it became my “us time”, too. Freddie started primary school last September and in April his school announced they were hosting a mud run, so I entered us both and we started going for little runs together in the forest at the end of our street.
‘When we drove into the car park for race day, my stomach was in knots. I wished Freddie luck for his shorter course, then left him with Dafydd and lined myself up behind the other 6K runners. Then we were off and I began to believe that I could actually do this. As the finish line came into view, Dafydd, Freddie and Walter were all there, roaring encouragement. I ran across, amazed at what I’d just achieved – and I was the second fastest of all the women!
‘As I collected my medal, I remembered a quote someone had shared in group: “Losing weight isn’t about becoming someone new, it’s about becoming the person you were always meant to be.” To me, that’s so true.
‘On that day in Yorkshire, I thought I might never be fit enough to run around with my kids – it wouldn’t have occurred to me I could lose 7st 12½lbs and come second in a race. It’s opened my mind to giving more new experiences a go – I’ve even become a Consultant and started up my own group. You never know what amazing things you might discover about yourself… just like I learnt that my body loves to run!’
*Weight loss will vary due to your individual circumstances and how much weight you have to lose
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