Lacing up her shoes, strapping on her GPS watch, and heading out on a long run are things 26-year-old Rebecca Grafton, the blogger behind My Girlish Whims, has come to appreciate. In January 2014, it was a different story—she weighed 246 pounds, and running was something she avoided. But that month she booked a summer vacation to Jamaica and decided she wanted to shape up. “I didn’t want to go on the trip, come back and look at pictures from my fun tropical vacation and not be able to remember how much fun I had [because of my weight],” she says.
Along with a healthy, balanced diet, one major change she made was she decided to start running regularly—even though she hated it. “I was the girl in high school who huffed and puffed around the track every year in gym class when we were forced to run one mile,” she recalls. These days, her trail runs and treadmill sessions are some of the most fun parts of her new healthy lifestyle. Here’s how she got there—and lost 100 pounds in the process.
When she decided to start exercising, running was a simple (but challenging) way to start.
Running was the first exercise Grafton decided to do during her weight-loss journey because it was easy to start—all she needed was a pair of running shoes and an outdoor path or treadmill. That doesn’t mean it was easy though. “I have a selfie I took after the very first workout I did after I committed to losing weight—my face is beet red and I was sticking my tongue out because I was a sweaty mess, but I was super proud because I had hopped on my treadmill and pushed myself to keep going,” says Grafton.
Grafton stuck with running about three times a week because she figured that if it was hard, it just might be working. “I remember one treadmill run I did in the beginning of my journey—I would normally get to 15 minutes and then stop and walk. I made it to 15 minutes and thought, I think I can keep going. I went a full 30 minutes without stopping. That was huge for me. It made me feel empowered—I was capable of pushing through all the huffing and puffing and jiggling.”
Her Tuesday night runs became something she looked forward to.
By the time Grafton left for her vacation in May, she’d dropped 30 pounds, and decided that she wanted to keep going. Her goal was to lose another 26 pounds. “I just decided that no matter how many times I screwed up along the way, giving up was not an option,” she says. One way she continued to stay motivated was by constantly challenging herself.
“I got into a routine where Tuesdays were one of my running days,” says Grafton. “I live near a nice trail that goes through the woods, and my Tuesday runs after work became fun to me. Getting to breathe in the fresh air, enjoy nature, and push myself to go further without taking a walking break became a cathartic experience.” (She would stay active by doing Zumba and at-home fitness DVDs on her non-running days.)
Then she decided to sign up for a few races.
A year after starting her weight-loss journey, Grafton had lost 77 pounds and found her groove with running, so she decided to sign up for her first race, a 5K. “I originally didn’t think I should sign up until I could run a full 3.1 miles without stopping…for some reason I felt like I wouldn’t be a ‘real runner’ unless I could do that,” says Grafton. “I remember thinking, I’m not a runner because I haven’t signed up for any races yet or I’m not a runner because I’m so overweight.” But when she thought of the progress she’d made and the time she’d put in, she knew she could do it (even if it meant taking a couple breaks during the race). Later that year she ran another 5K in her hometown (winning her age group).
She was also eyeing a bigger goal: a half marathon. The approaching race day served as motivation to push harder and log more miles. It was a challenge, but, crossing the finish line that November was a moment Grafton will never forget. “As soon as I saw the finish line I started grinning. I had trained for months, and finally crushing that goal was such a joyful moment for me,” says Grafton.
Two years after starting her weight-loss journey, Grafton had logged endless miles—and lost 100 pounds.
In January 2016, Grafton hit a major milestone: she’d officially lost 100 pounds. “When I first wanted to lose weight, I set a goal weight of 190 pounds because that was a ‘comfortable’ distance away from 200,” she says. “That was still 56 pounds to lose, which sounded like a massive number, but I knew I just needed to start. So I stayed consistent and eventually things just clicked.”
“Sure, it was hard to wake up at 5 A.M. to work out on days I couldn’t do it after work, and it was hard to sit there eating my chicken and veggies when the boss ordered pizza for lunch on Friday. But day after day, it got easier. Now, my lifestyle has become a habit that I actually enjoy,” she says.
These days, she’s inspiring others through the success she worked hard for (she was featured in People Magazine this year). She keeps up with her healthy eating by tracking her macronutrients so she’s got a healthy balance of carbs, fats, and protein, and she’s still on her workout grind, too—including running. She likes to log her long runs on weekend mornings, starting her day with a protein bar and a coffee before lacing up and logging some peaceful miles. She’s considered signing up for a full marathon, but for now, she’s just enjoying every stride.
“That’s why I run—not to care about my pace or how many calories I’m burning, but to just hit the trail over and over again, one foot after another, and enjoy the process.”
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT RUN: