Eleanor Sheds Her Sorrow

I wasn’t always fat. In fact, I was really athletic and played field hockey and varsity soccer in my youth.  So, I was always fit and active … until I wasn’t.

At first the pounds crept up slowly. I went through fits of gaining and losing weight. After college, I had a desk job where I sat for hours and hours. I had to travel for work. There was stress and pregnancy weight. So every time the pounds accumulated, I’d reach a “WHOA!” moment (usually when trying to squeeze into some article of clothing) and then I’d get back on track.

Pregnancy was the hardest. I gained a crazy amount of weight each time. I still had on 20 extra pounds from my first baby when I got pregnant again. This time, I just ballooned. I was a giant and sad about it, very sad.  And then, unexpectedly and unforgettably, my world collapsed.

It happened two weeks after my second child, Jake, was born. My mother had been in and out of the hospital.  After a brief visit one evening, I went home as usual. At 11:00pm that night, I got the call that she had suffered a stroke soon after I left her. I stayed at her bedside all night and took her off life support in the morning. She died within minutes, leaving me in absolute shock.

I was sad. I was exhausted. I was also angry. I couldn’t believe this was happening just after having a beautiful, healthy, baby boy.  This should have been such a happy time for me, but I was of robbed that joy. The only thing that I could do besides taking care of my kids was to eat.

Friends and family are great. They all wanted to help. When you have a baby, they bring food. When you are in mourning, they bring food.  They only meant to comfort me. And I did find some fleeting comfort in all those delectable goods. For one month straight, I ate and ate and ate. Before I knew it I weighed more than I did before I delivered my son. I was almost 100 pounds heavier than I was when before I had kids. I was on a downward spiral. I had to do something.

The first day I tried running, it wasn’t pretty but it felt good enough … until the next morning. It hurt and I was discouraged, so I didn’t run again. I did however join a gym and slowly started to exercise again. After a few months, I was able to run a little more. I will admit: it wasn’t a love fest at first. It was hard to do with my big body, and it hurt. I kept it up because being outside did something great for me mentally. It was VERY cathartic. I would think about Mom and the relationship we had. Even now, I never go for a run where I don’t think about her for at least a bit. She is always with me on my runs.

This time away from my kids has always felt guilt-free. I need this “me” time which is so good for me in many ways. I have invested in it by getting some good gear, cute clothes and cool sneakers. I started setting goals for myself – 5K’s, 10k’s, then even a half marathon. I joined a running group where I met great supportive people.  Step by step I eventually lost over eighty pounds. Today, I am strong, healthy, and happy. My sons see me as a role model and love to cheer me on at running events. Last fall, I even placed at the Katonah 5K Road & Trail Race!

I still have a way to go. I’ve been running now for two years and I’m still not where I want to be weight-wise. I may never be, but I donʼt consider myself a failure. In fact, it’s the exact opposite. I know I am only a failure when I stop trying. I hope that all the women who come out for the Running Goddess 5K can enjoy the same spirit of running that has saved my life and my body.

Inquiries can be sent to: elohershey@gmail.com

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