How Running Changed Me – Tracy Helmer

Name: Tracy Helmer
Age: 48
Hometown: Las Vegas, Nevada
Occupation: Registered Nurse, Surgery
Start weighing: 297 pounds
Final weight: 175 pounds
Execution time : 2 years

At nearly 300 pounds, I was socially paralyzed. I was depressed and unsure about going anywhere, especially to events that involved physical activity. I was not flexible, had no energy, no stamina and struggled with basic exercises. I ate a lot of worthless calories for them: carbohydrates, fats and way too much. Sometimes I thought I was a shark while eating and eating, but it was absolutely unnecessary. I wouldn’t be able to stop sometimes.

Besides that, I had a lot of health problems. I was living with type 2 diabetes and I also had high blood pressure. I was taking maximum amounts of insulin to combat the effects of my diabetes, but I still couldn’t control my health.

I was in my mid-40s and had serious fears of dying from a heart attack because I saw my older brother have a severe heart attack. He miraculously lived it, but he should have died. After that, I said to myself that I refused that my parents bury their child (me). I’ve seen it many times in my career as a health care provider, and it’s my biggest fear.

I was lucky enough to have bariatric surgery in 2018 and started running in mid-2019. I discovered my stride, my running economy, my shoes and my hydration. In early 2020, this became part of my strategy to build strength, endurance, and lung health (as I’ve treated dozens of COVID patients in my career and seen them struggle with this).

My first runner’s high came in March 2020 and I was hopelessly hooked. A quarter-mile run turned into a half-mile run, and I kept finding the courage to push and push. I then started running a few times a week.

Now I eat medium to smaller portions. I always tend to eat more protein and always leave carbs on my plate. I train myself to say “I’ve had enough”. All of these things are new to me, but they are the best way to maintain my activity level.

Sadly my dad passed away last year, and to this day I can still feel his presence when I run, so I run for him.

I have competed in many 5k and 10k races and competed in the Tough Mudder Laughlin event on November 20, 2021. I completed the 10 mile course with a band around my arm with the name of my father (Johnny).

There is a freedom in running that transcends the issues of everyday life, but in some unexplained way I find balance and the ability to stay grounded. I feel like you can just float when you find your pace and rhythm.

I currently run four to five times a week, and I love running and shadowboxing while I run. I’m training for a busy obstacle course season. My son ran alongside me in my Tough Mudder race in 2021. He was not registered for this race, but he ran along the course between each obstacle to show his support. How can I do not be motivated by it? I run 12 miles or more every month or two just to push myself. My goal is not to run a marathon, but to use running to balance my health and strength.

I lost over 120 lbs. I currently weigh 175 lbs. I’ve built muscle, and overall I’m totally happy with myself.

These three tips have made my running journey a success:

1. Don’t accept your excuses

It’s in our nature to make them, but it can be your choice to cross them. In life, we learn very young to find excuses. Must be fine, if we have to come up with an excuse for why we’re not doing it, then I’m trying to practice the art of reprogramming my responses.

      2. Catch the worm every day

      For me, nothing good ever happens to me if I sleep all day. “The world belongs to those who get up early.” I want to get up early, so I have a choice of things I’m going to accomplish.

      3. Find what motivates you

      I would love to run downhill every day, but I would never get results if there was no effort I had to dig deep to find out. My choice is to rise to the challenge and develop my power and strength by rising to those challenges.

      Sometimes it’s about finding your motivation. Do not be afraid to motivate yourself as you see fit, in order to find a force that drives you. Self-limiting behavior is our biggest enemy in running – when you let your mind stop, your body will follow. Don’t do this shit to yourself.

      Tracy’s Essential Gear

      Asics NovaBlasts: Do not buy online. Go try them instead! Good shoes are essential. You need to find a shoe that is synergistic with your stride.

      Powr Labs Bluetooth Heart Rate Monitor: It tracks my heart rate and connects to my phone so I can track my pace, distance, rest, etc. It increased my efforts.

      Beats Powerbeats Pro wireless headphones: After trying many brands of headphones (and seeing their failures), I just feel like you must have a great way to hear your motivation. And the Powerbeats are the best.

      GU energy gel: I keep a pack or two in my water bottle, so if my blood sugar starts to drop, I get a burst of energy.

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