Until recently, I had been fighting weight problems my entire life. I was always a heavy child and as I became a young adult, I was classified as obese. I tried every diet and exercise plan out there, but nothing worked.
When a friend of mine first introduced me to LA Roadrunners in 2010, I weighed 235 pounds and was a size 12/14. When I completed my first LA marathon, I weighed 180 and had dropped to a size 8/10. Training for the 2010 LA Marathon allowed me to focus on my health, improved my self-esteem, and given me an incredible sense of empowerment.
This year, I am running in the Charity 2-Person Marathon, but I am not just running for my own health or well-being. I’m joining with a partner, a Hollywood High School student named Alex Yarza, to run for SOSMentor. Although he’s much younger, Alex is someone I can really relate to. He used to suffer from childhood obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
With the help of SOSMentor and their ShapeUp program, Alex learned how to make healthier eating choices and incorporate physical activity into everyday life in order to shed his excess weight and stay healthy. Today, he is at a normal weight, is confident in his own skin and in control of his health.
SOSMentor ShapeUp has helped countless young people like Alex by bringing Registered Dietitians, volunteer mentors, and physical trainers into schools to give kids the knowledge and skills they need to be healthy. SOSMentor’s volunteers mentor high school students in nutrition and exercise for 5 weeks. Then, the high school students become mentors to children at a nearby elementary school. It’s an innovative and effective program that I’m proud to be a part of (I am on the SOSMentor Board of Directors and will be serving as a mentor this Spring).
Alex has become an advocate for healthy eating in his community and even plans on mentoring other high school students during the Spring ShapeUp program. He is participating in the Charity 2-Person Marathon not only to stay active, but also to raise money for the organization that helped him so much.
Having earned my doctorate degree in Educational Psychology and completed my dissertation on juvenile-onset obesity, I am passionate about educating and encouraging young people like Alex to establish healthy habits that will last them a lifetime. And I’m proud to be running for an organization like SOSMentor that does this work every day.