At age 16, after 8 years of competitive swimming, Jill Schieren retired her racing Speedo--but kept eating as if she were training. In college, she blew past the freshman 15 on a diet of cheese steaks and hot dogs--cheap, convenient food she could grab between classes at Temple University in Philadelphia. By her sophomore year, she was carrying an extra 75 pounds. "I was a coach for a community swim team, but I stopped exercising and was eating food I didn't realize was so bad for me," she says.
The Breaking Point
When she hit 225 pounds, Schieren realized how much her weight was interfering with her life. Working as a part-time nanny to pay for school, she could barely catch a running toddler. "I was losing my integrity as a swim coach as I got heavier and started getting aches and pains from dragging around all this extra weight," she says. When she couldn't button a pair of size 16 pants that she had bought just 3 weeks earlier, she knew she had to put the brakes on. "I didn't want to be the girl who spent her life in sweatpants because nothing else fit."
The next day, she bought a stopwatch and ran for one minute and walked for 20. Each day she ran a little longer. "Even if I only added 30 seconds, I kept telling myself, 'At least it was more than I did yesterday,'" she says. Schieren also stopped eating red meat, pork, and processed foods, including all the simple carbs--muffins, bagels, cakes--she used to chow on, replacing them with whole fruits and vegetables. "I live by the motto 'If it doesn't grow out of the ground, I don't want to eat it,'" she says. Two weeks in and already down 5 pounds, she made a promise to herself to fit into a single-digit-size dress by her next birthday, her 21st. After 4 months, she had shed 40 pounds and was running for 20 straight minutes. She stepped up workouts to include abs (crunches and ball situps) and light lifting 30 minutes a day, twice a week. In January 2007, Schieren started a training program for her first distance race, Philadelphia's Blue Cross Broad Street Run. By race day she'd dropped 60 more pounds.
The above woman is NOT Jill Schieren, although Jill Schieren certainly could be like her, if she wanted to. :)