Even getting out of bed was an ordeal for Aimee Smith when she topped the scales at 427 pounds, and the idea of ever running was a far-fetched fantasy.
“My knees hurt, my back hurt. I had high blood pressure. I was pre-diabetic. I was going down a bad path,” revealed the Janesville, Wisconsin woman, reported ABCNews.com.
Instead of signing her own death warrant with another cheeseburger, Aimee decided to change the course of her fate and two years later – and over 200 pounds lighter thanks to gastric bypass surgery – she now competes in triathlons and runs 10K races!
And she’s not stopping there! Next up on the 44-year-old’s bucket list is the Wisconsin marathon in May, and she even has her sights set on an Iron Man triathlon, which consists of a grueling 2.4-mile swim and 112-mile bike ride topped off with a 26.2-mile run.
“In high school I probably would have been voted least likely to do something athletic if there was such an award,” laughed brave Smith. “I’ve lost so much weight that when I went back for my 25th reunion recently, no one recognized me. They thought my husband was the one who was in their class!”
Now inspiring others to make dramatic changes in their life by kick-starting healthy habits, Aimee offers advice to those planning to follow in her speedy footsteps.
“You’ve got to change your relationship with food. Start thinking of it as fuel rather than a friend you can rush to whenever you’re having an emotional problem,” said Smith, who has learned to embrace fruits and vegetables, even “exotic” picks like kale and collard greens which she says were completely foreign fare in her previous life.
“It’s not always helpful to look at the big picture,” she explained. “Start small and if you can only do two steps at a time, do that and then do it again tomorrow. Progressively build on what you can.”
The plus-sized competitor never aspired to win any medals in her fledging competitions and admitted she was worried about the reaction from serious athletes who stand on the podium at the end of a race.
“I expected them to be snobs. But it’s been very eye-opening how compassionate they’ve been towards me. They love my determination and they go out of their way to let me know they’re proud of me for not quitting,” Aimee revealed happily.