Dani Holmes-Kirk has a smile that is infectious, and a personality that exudes so much happiness, it comes right through her emails. I’ve never met her in person, but I’d like to think we would get along famously, until she tried to make me run. Dani is a runner, a marathon-er and blogs about her adventures at, “Weight Off My Shoulders.”
It’s hard to believe that a few short years ago she led a sedentary lifestyle and battled an eating disorder. Today, Dani is 82 pounds lighter and she’s keeping it off thanks to smarter food choices and her rekindled love of running.
This is Dani’s true weight loss story –
When did your weight struggles begin? For as long as I can remember I was overweight. I can look back at a certain picture of me on the beach in my bathing suit when I was maybe 3 or 4 and thinking, wow, I even had a little belly then. I remember being made fun of in 7th grade and getting MOOed at by a passing car. The overweight mentality was burned into my brain for a long time.
Last fall, Kim Emert ran the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon and finished with a time of 4:35:39. It was her second marathon and she did it with a 23-minute personal record. For Kim, the event was another milestone in her weight loss journey and proof that all her hard work over the last few years is paying off. The 34-year-old wife and mother from Tennessee has lost 86 pounds, and she did it the way you might expect a runner to, by pacing herself and taking one step at a time.
“I was average and active as a child,” Kim explained. “My weight struggles began later in life. After marriage, kids and my first sit-down desk job. I made poor food choices, overate and made excuses about why I didn’t exercise.” Like many women, Kim lost a significant amount of weight after her first child, only to gain it all back during her second pregnancy, which put her back at square one. “This wasn’t my first time on the weight loss wagon,” she said. “It wasn’t until my son was 2 that I decided to do this for real and for good because my kids and family needed me. I wanted to be healthy and active for myself and them.”
Kim has been successful with her weight loss because she started with the right mindset. Instead of using starvation tactics or falling for the get-skinny-quick promises of some diet programs, she simply relied on, dedication and determination saying, “I cleaned up my diet and started hitting the gym. Once I got into a regular routine I took up running and signed up for my first 5k. I haven’t looked back!”
Happy New Year! Did you wake up this morning with a champagne hangover and the vague recollection of declaring that in 2014 you’ll get healthy and lose weight? If so, you’re not alone. Each year, weight loss is one of the most popular resolutions, and one of the hardest to stick with. At Diets In Review, we celebrate this dedication every Saturday with our True Weight Loss Story (TWLS) segment where we highlight the journey of men and women who have lost at least 50 pounds, safely, and without using fad diets.
The True Weight Loss Story is inspiring to write and I genuinely root for these people who have fought illness, loss, heartbreak, injury and more, all to get healthy for themselves, and often their families. Once their story has posted I often wonder, “where are they now?” Recently, I tracked down four of our favorite TWLS participants of 2013 to find out.
Greta Funk –
Greta Funk is our teeny mama of four who struggled with portion control and poor diet choices. After four pregnancies, the weight slowly crept on and didn’t budge. After seeing pictures of herself that she didn’t recognize, Greta tried commercial diet plans but eventually realized that she could have just as much success by using her MyFitness Pal app to gauge portions and make fruits and veggies a staple in her diet.
The picture below shows Greta when she hit her 500-mile run mark this year. Pure joy!
Today, Greta is maintaining her weight loss by running 3-5 times per week. She’s currently in training for the Disney half-marathon in 2014. “Last January, I made myself a goal to run 500 miles in 2013,” she said. “And by the end of December, I should be close to 650 miles this year.” Greta knows she has trouble maintaining portion sizes when she stops tracking but for now, all that running is off-setting any extra holiday nibbling. Total weight lost: 50 Pounds!
Eli Sapharti –
Eli Sapharti was on a business trip when an airport cashier made an offhand remark that may have saved his life, “You know, you’re very good looking for a big guy.” Bullied as a child, Eli knew “big guy” was just a nice way of saying, “overweight.” By making small changes, the first being to eliminate soda and walk for just 15 minutes a day, he gradually lost pounds and inches. Instead of overwhelming himself with an overhauled diet and rigorous workout routine, Eli made changes he knew he could stick with.
The “big guy” is now a Muscle Club Finalist –
Eli is a motivational speaker whose book, From Fat Boy to Fit Man, chronicles is journey and details the plan that helped him achieve success. So much success, in fact, that he recently made it to the top 3 spot (out of 330) in the Muscle Club Apparel spokes model search contest. Currently, he’s training for the Miami ING half-marathon. “I truly hope this inspires and motivates others to realize that anything is possible if we believe,” he said. “Persevere and consistently take one step at a time.” Total weight lost: 105 pounds!
Angela VanBuskirk –
Angela VanBuskirk is our rockstar who lost 70 pounds, TWICE! After losing a significant amount of weight with the help of a personal trainer, doctors discovered an aggressive bone tumor that destroyed her femur and hip joint. Though the tumor was benign, the invasive surgery to insert pins and a titanium rod, coupled with a lengthy recovery period caused her to gain back 100 pounds. In 2011, she found out she was going to be a grandmother. Though Angela was in her early 40s, she felt tired knew she needed a life-change. “I wanted to be the cool active Grandma GiGi who takes her granddaughter to Disney World,” she said. “I wanted to watch her be a kid, and be one with her.”
Angela finishing her 20th 5K race of 2013 –
After losing weight with the help of a commercial weight loss program and walk/running program, she is just shy of her goal to be in “one-derland” (weight in the 100s) by January 2014. This year, she competed in TWENTY 5K races, one half-marathon and one 10K. She’s currently in training to run the Nike Women’s Half-marathon in Washington DC in April with the Leukemia Lymphoma society team in training. Her mother is in lymphoma remission. Her advice for holiday eating: “Love the special delights that only come around this time of the year,” she urged. ” What you don’t need are those crappy cookies that you can eat any time. Save indulgences for the magnificent things that are truly a delicious treat.” Total weight lost: 75 pounds!
Josh Steele –
Josh Steele has one of the biggest weight loss stories we’ve ever featured. Although his 7-foot-tall frame allowed him to carry a few extra pounds, when he tipped the scales at 600 pounds, Josh knew he needed help. He wrote to the Biggest Loser on several occasions but was never chosen for the show. Eventually, Josh embraced his own inner Dolvett, Jillian and Bob, and decided he could be successful by following the old-school rule of weight loss, “eat less and move more.” He started with the Chris Powell Carb Cycling Plan and then just got up and moved – and kept moving – until he had lost over 250 pounds.
Due to his significant weight loss, Josh recently had 11 pounds of skin removed from his chest and stomach. Recovering from surgery has put a temporary damper on his gym time but he continues to eat “clean,” and work out as doctors allow. In a few weeks he’s scheduled to take his ACSM certified personal training exam. After that, he’ll be able to train at FIT Personal Training where he lives in Wabash. He’s excited for the opportunity to give back, saying, “Once certified I will be picking a pay it forward client to train free for 6 months.” Total weight lost: 250 pounds!
If you or someone you know has lost at least 50 pounds and would like to inspire others next year, please send a request to Dani Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
New Year’s resolutions. Are you making one this year? If you’re like most Americans, you’ll resolve to take better care of yourself. And if you’re even more like most Americans, you’re not sure where to start. Consider starting on the first of January, with a commitment, a Commitment Run, that is.
The Commitment Day 5K is a nationwide, family-friendly run/walk. The purpose is for people to help start a national conversation about living a healthier life. The races take place all over the country and have partnered with the American Heart Association to support their “My Heart, My Life” healthy living initiative. By joining in this run or walk on January 1st, you are helping the American Heart Association (AMA) reach their goal of improving cardiovascular health of all Americans. (No time to register and train? Commit to doing a 5K in early 2014 then use our guide to help you select the right one.)
Growing up, the word running was synonymous with a few different words. Among them were torture, punishment, pain, and dread. I remember trying to fake being sick on those dreaded few days each school year when we had to run the mile in gym class. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to run – it just seemed so awful to me.
Fast forward to the year 2003 and I’ve decided to get in shape and join a gym. After a year or two of solely sticking to the elliptical trainer and the occasional group exercise class, I decided to take up running. For some reason, I always had it in my head that you weren’t a real athlete unless you were a runner. I wasn’t even really sure how one becomes a runner, but gave it my best shot. I can still clearly remember going for those first few outdoor runs.
I started off by walking for a minute, running the next, and so on. Then my runs got longer, I could run for one mile without stopping, then two, three and so on. In 2005, a friend and I decided to sign up for a 5k race. It was my first race ever and I was nervous! I set a goal for myself to finish in 30 minutes or less. I finished in 28:30 and felt great! I registered for a number of 5k, 8k and 10k races over the next few years.
I started increasing my mileage and started thinking about running a half marathon; it seemed like a really great challenge and realistic goal considering where I was at, so I took the plunge and registered for the Baltimore Half Marathon. I trained for it by running 8-10 mile runs 2-3 times a week (and shorter runs one other day). I felt good and strong and prepared for race day. On race day, my goal was to finish in two hours. The course was pretty tough with a lot of big hills. It was also great because there were spectators along the entire 13.1 miles cheering us on. I got a sharp pain in my I.T. band around mile 7, but just kept running, and my finish time was 1 hour and 58 minutes. (more…)