Beyond the incredible impact your steps and fundraising make toward fighting breast cancer on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day®, one of the perks of walking is the gift of fitness. With a dedicated training schedule and long walks, many Komen 3-Day walkers find themselves enjoying a healthier, fitter version of themselves.
And sometimes, that healthier, fitter “you” comes with an extraordinary story. Meet Rhonda, from Maple Valley, Washington, a first-time Seattle walker on Team Tracy. Through her training and preparation for the 3-Day®, Rhonda has lost a remarkable lost 101 pounds. “This is more than just my weight loss story,” said Rhonda. Rhonda decided to make a change when she saw her son was also struggling with his weight, and was being bullied in school. Education was their first step: Rhonda and her son went and saw a nutritionist, and they went to a class to learn about portion sizes, healthy eating, and fitness. “I set a goal every month to change my life. The first goal was to not drink carbonated drinks. I switched over to water and I probably lost 20 pounds off of that goal alone. As I started losing weight I started gaining energy, so I would go for walks,” she said. As Rhonda began to walk, she also began to fall in love with fitness. “The walks were so therapeutic for me that there were times I had to call my daughter and say “It’s too dark, can you come and get me?”
Rhonda lost 65 pounds, and then found herself at a stopping point as she became comfortable with her changing body. However, somebody made fun of her, and Rhonda found new motivation from that experience. “I went and lost another 20 or 30 pounds, and I was still on the downward trend, and then my boyfriend asked me to marry him. I thought, I gotta lose more weight!” As Rhonda kept losing weight, she also began to really get in shape, noting that when you lose weight, it’s not about just dropping the pounds, it’s also about toning and adjusting to a newer, healthier you.
Rhonda has always wanted to do the 3-Day. “My mom is a double survivor, and my stepmom is a survivor. I always wanted to do the 3-Day but I was never in shape for it,” she said. Rhonda had wanted to do the 3-Day last year but was on vacation, so 2014 was the perfect time to enjoy her first 60-mile adventure. “I’m having a blast!” she said.
She admits that in addition to adopting healthy habits like eating right, getting enough sleep, drinking water, and exercise, a large part of her success came from hope and believing in herself. She has a tattoo on her wrist that says ‘Believe’ in a lovely black script, and Rhonda said, “When I’m doing planks and I want to give up, I look at my tattoo. Everybody always asks me, ‘believe’ in what? And the answer is myself, or my son, or my daughter, or the tooth fairy. Always believe.”
What advice can Rhonda offer to somebody who is also looking to make a change to their weight? “A lot of people give up because their diet doesn’t work out. It took me six months to lose my first pound. It was six months of changing everything, and I did it the right way. It wasn’t a gimmick or a pill. Because I taught myself to be healthy, I’ve been able to keep healthy. Don’t give up hope.”
Rhonda’s hope, belief, and endurance transformed her life, but her life wasn’t the only one whose changed. Her son ended up also making healthier lifestyle habits, and is no longer bullied. “He tells me every day, ‘Mom, you changed my life’.”