Motivation can be found in countless places, whether it be a quote you read, a show you see, a song you hear, or a story you’re told. Most often though, I believe we are motivated by those around us, people that we connect with even in the most unexpected ways. Often times, it is these people that give us that final push to take the plunge.
Brandie is a 38 year old wife and Mom to a beautiful 3.5 year old daughter. She is originally from Vancouver, Canada, but currently resides in Basel, Switzerland with her family. Yes, Switzerland! This week, we are going international for some serious motivation!
Brandie and I connected through the IR4 organization. Her buddy, Layla, and my buddy, Angel, are sisters who are both fighting Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD). We were both matched with our buddies on the same day last April. Little did we know at the time, we had gained not only our amazing buddies, but also each other. As we began communicating to plan surprises for the girls or to give each other updates on the girls, we also began to get to know one another. I found myself feeling inspired by all that Brandie had already accomplished, by the goals she had set for herself, and by her go-getter attitude.
I learned that Brandie had been overweight her entire life, something I never would have guessed having just met such an active, healthy woman. In September of 2012, she weighed 200 pounds and experienced a life-changing moment. “I will never forget the exact minute I decided that I needed to make a permanent change. I was reading an article that said 80% of children with an overweight or obese parent would end up overweight or obese. I was that kid, that teenager, and now, that adult. I did not want that for my daughter.” And just like that, Brandie began making changes for a healthier life with her daughter and her husband as her main sources of motivation at the time.
She joined Weight Watchers that month because her Aunt had seen good results with their program for several years. Brandie told me that she had thought about starting Weight Watchers before, but had never had the courage to do it. One week into the program, she was feeling discouraged because she had only lost 1 pound. “…I kept at it and by Christmas I had lost almost 25 pounds! In January of 2013, I bought an elliptical and did Jillian Michael workout videos at home. I hit my goal of 145 pounds at the beginning of April. I had lost 55 pounds in about 6 months, something I had never thought possible. I donated all my old clothes and bought a whole new wardrobe for myself. I was NEVER going down that road again.” It has now been over two years since her journey began and Brandie has maintained her weight loss, healthy habits, and overall lifestyle make-over. YOU GO GIRL!!!
In the summer of 2013, Brandie was looking for new ways to help stay fit. She kept seeing her friend Loren posting her runs using her Nike+ Running App on Facebook and thought to herself, “…if she can do it, so can I.” This is where Brandie’s love of running began. She made up her mind to run a 10k and after training for just six weeks, she finished that 10k in 55 minutes! AMAZING! Since then, Brandie has completed three more 10K’s, several virtual races for charity, two half-marathons, and what she refers to as “…a grueling 18K in Central Switzerland with so many hills .” Every time she finishes a race, she feels even more fantastic than before as she thinks about all that she has accomplished and how far she has already come. After signing up for IR4 in January of 2014 and being matched with Layla three months later, Brandie found yet another source of personal inspiration as well as motivation to keep running. “As long as I have legs that will carry me, I will continue to run.”
Currently, Brandie is training for her first marathon, the Edinburgh Marathon, which she will complete this coming May in Edinburgh, Scotland. “I decided last Fall that I wanted to complete a marathon before turning 40.” This is what I love about Brandie and one reason she continues to inspire me. She makes a decision and BAM! A goal is set, the work begins, and she achieves her goal with no excuses! That is what dedication and change is all about. Her marathon training has her running 5 days a week for 18 weeks to prepare. She is super excited about this race because she and her family are making a vacation out of it and the course is relatively flat and run entirely along the ocean. Sounds like a dream to me!
As a busy Mom myself, I wondered how Brandie is fitting in her marathon training. She told me that while she prefers to get her workouts in in the morning and has been “…known to wake at 5 AM to get a run in…”, she does have to do them after her husband gets home from work sometimes. “It’s not always easy, but where there’s a will there’s a way!” Her daughter is in school two days a week as well so she is able to take advantage of her time on those days to get her training completed. While we all find support in various places, Brandie told me that she “…could not even think of training for a marathon if she didn’t have a husband that supported her 110%.” Speaking from personal experience, I could not agree more.
When I asked Brandie what advice she would have for someone just getting started with running she said “…get a good pair of running shoes…and start slowly and listen to your body. Run for as long as you can, even if it’s just one minute. Then walk until you catch your breath and then run again.” When Brandie started running, she had a route that was a 5 mile circle. She would walk and then run, walk and then run… The first mile is all up hill so it was very challenging for a beginner. “The day I ran all the way to the top of that hill was such a great feeling even though I had to walk once I got to the top. Then, the first day that I completed the entire 5 mile route without stopping was almost magical! Who would have thought I could ever run 5 miles? I did it!”
I am sure others can relate to Brandie’s story. You know that you need to make a change and you think about making that change, but taking the first step is the hardest part. It can feel intimidating. It can feel impossible. It’s not going to be easy, but I promise you, it WILL be worth it. That voice inside your head that creeps out on you and tells you that you can’t do it…kick it to the curb, because you CAN do it! You too, like Brandie, WILL make it all the way to the top of that big hill and it WILL feel amazing! Be confident. Be strong. Be persistent. Take that first step and never look back! You have EVERYTHING to gain!