Cris Wade, 47, 6’1″, from Sacramento, California
Before: 235 lb., size 16/18
After: 165 lb., size 8/10
Total pounds lost: 70 lb.
Total sizes lost: 4

I never had weight problems until after I had children. Having two kids in two years—and leaning on a diet of fast food—made the numbers on the scale start to climb. By August 2008, I was 235 pounds, depressed, and low on energy. I realized that if I didn’t change, I would continue to feel miserable for years to come. So I went after something that seemed an audacious goal: running a half marathon. To complete one, I knew I needed to be healthier.

My first step was tackling the two-mile loop in my neighborhood. I assumed a light jog would be effortless, but I struggled to make it past just two houses on my street. While part of me was humiliated, moving my body felt invigorating. Fortunately, my excitement won out, and I continued making my way around that same path daily, each time walking less and running more. I dropped pounds fast, thanks to regular runs and much smarter diet choices (I began swapping Taco Bell for grilled salmon and veggies). But I hit a snag when I suffered a hip injury right before my first half marathon in December 2008. Worried that I’d have to completely stop exercising, I was relieved when my doctor said I could still bike and swim while I recovered.

By March 2009, I was down to 165 pounds and finally able to run again, so I tackled my first half marathon. Bitten by the triple-sport bug (I fell in love with biking and swimming during my time off from running), I did my first triathlon just one month later. Since then I’ve completed countless races, including seven Ironman competitions, which consist of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and 26.2 miles of running. How do I feel now when I think back to the day when I could barely make it down my street? Humbled, empowered, and, most important, unstoppable.

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Get grilling. I used to think boiled broccoli was the only way to eat veggies. Now I throw greens like artichokes and asparagus on the grill, which boosts their flavor and texture—and makes clean eating way more interesting.

Journal it. I record all my workouts in a spiral notebook. It sounds old school, but seeing my progress inspires me to keep pushing myself.

Buddy up. As the new owner of a gym (Kaia FIT Natomas) who also teaches group fitness classes, I’ve seen that having a support system to share your goals with makes you that much more likely to achieve them. My advice: Find a friend (or five) who will keep you accountable.

Wake up ready. My favorite coffee mug says “Suck It Up, Buttercup.” It’s the first thing I see in the morning, and it’s a source of motivation that gets me moving.

 

As told to Anthea Levi