In this issue of Rockstar Runner, I’m so excited to share Angela Gillis’ inspirational story! I met Angela at FitBloggin earlier this year, and after I heard her story, I knew I just had to get her on the blog. She and her husband have lost a crazy amount of weight, and have even been on the Rachel Ray show to share their success. Along the way, Angela developed a running addiction and has completed numerous marathons.
Check it out:
Tell us a little about yourself!
I’m Angela from Texas. In January 2011, Willie, my husband, and I set out to lose weight. We had no idea if we would succeed or where we would end up, but together we lost a combined total of 500 pounds. After losing that 200 pounds, my life changed dramatically. I fell in love with endurance sports, especially running, and haven’t looked back since. My blog, We Beat Fat, documents post weight loss and the highs and lows of maintaining the weight loss. I’m happy to say my life is filled with lots of positive energy and highs! Losing the weight didn’t make me happier, but it allowed me to see that I can do anything if I put my mind to it. That gave me the power and strength to see the world differently through a more “can do” attitude instead of the “I think” attitude.
How/why did you start running?
I started running because walking on the treadmill just wasn’t doing it for me. I picked up the speed on the treadmill and I was jogging. I couldn’t jog for long periods of time but I would do a minute and walk for 3 minutes and then do it again. The next thing you know I was jogging for 10 minutes and then the minutes became miles. But I want to emphasize, I am still a run/walker. That is what works for me.
What do you love about running – what keeps you coming back time after time?
I love running because it’s something I never thought I would do. I also love running because it always gives me something to work toward. Obviously, I’m not a competitive runner but I am competitive with myself. It’s one of those things that I can self measure and crossing a finish line 10 seconds faster than the last time makes me feel happy. Also the time I spend running is just my time. I clear my mind and I am just one with the road. It’s peaceful and chaotic at the same time, but that’s the time I spend with myself. Sometimes it’s the therapy I need to make it through a hard day or sometimes it’s just thing that makes my day better.
How do you get yourself out the door on days when you’re just not ‘feeling it’?
I ask myself two questions: “do I not want to run because my body is just tired?” or “do you not feel like running because you just don’t want to run?” If I know I’m feeling tired, then I’ll listen to my body and just rest. Anything else, I still get out there. I feel like it’s better to try than not. Even on the days I don’t want to run, I’m always glad I did. If I don’t feel like running, the best thing for me to do is to just go out there and say I’m going to walk. Most of the time I end up running because getting out of the door is the hardest part. But if I don’t end up running, at least I got out there to do a walk and stretch my legs.
Do you have an inspirational and/or funny running story (or stories!) to share with us?
The story that comes to mind is from last year. I decided I wanted to run a marathon after saying I would never do that. I picked the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis in December so I started training in early June. I needed to build a base and get consistent with my running before the actual training started. I stuck to my training plan and REALLY trained. I think I only missed 2 runs out of the entire plan. I was ready and worn out from marathon training but I pictured myself crossing that finish line so many times nothing was going to stop me from finishing the race.
When December rolled around, I was excited but there was a dreaded possible ice storm heading to the Memphis area. Our flight to Memphis was canceled, but we got in the car and drove all night to be there for packet pick up the next morning. At packet pick up I cried when I picked up my bib. I was just so happy. We did all the expo things and it really looked like the marathon would go on. At 7pm the night before the marathon, it was canceled. I was devastated. I cried. I felt like I lost myself. I went to sleep angry and mad. But I woke up ready to tackle those 26.2 miles. So in 37 degree weather, I ran my marathon in my husband’s childhood neighborhood. The temp. continued to drop while I ran, but I finished those miles. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done because I did it by myself in some chilly conditions but it’s a moment I am proud of in life.
How has running changed your life?
Running has allowed me to be the person I never thought I would be. It’s pushed me to achieve goals, meet time commitments and just keep my life active and fun. It’s also taught me how to make friends. I’ve opened up a lot more to people since running with a group and I wouldn’t have done that before.
What words of wisdom do you have for brand new runners?
Get fitted for a pair of shoes. I really messed up my IT Band and feet because I just ran in the shoes I had and that was a huge mistake. I could have avoided a lot of heartache if I would have gone to a running store.
Also, don’t let anyone tell you not to run. If it feels comfortable for you, just go with the flow.
And never compare yourself to other runners, just do you and don’t worry about anyone else. Fast or not as fast, you’re still out there doing it.
What are your favorite inspirational blogs to follow?
My favorite blog is Run, Eat, Repeat but after Fitbloggin’ I met so many great people. I think my new favorite blog is Breathe Deeply and Smile. Both Monica and Lauren have a great outlook on life and keep it fun and of course, they love to run!
What is your favorite running outfit?
I don’t really have a favorite running outfit BUT I love running in bright colors and high socks. You will never see me without high COLORFUL socks…unless it’s 100 degrees outside but I’ll have bright compression sleeves on.
What running gear do you think you can’t live without?
I love my Altra zero drop shoes. I just switched shoes and I couldn’t imagine life without them now. I just feel so much faster.
What are your top 3 songs to listen to when you run?
The Spark by Afrojack, I Will Carry You by Rebecca St. James, and Brave by Sara Bareillis.
Treadmill or outdoors?
I prefer the outdoors because there’s nothing like some good ole fresh air. But when it’s too hot, I have no problem with the treadmill.
Anything else we need to know?
Enjoy life and have fun. Running is just a way to see your surroundings and really get to know someone.
How can we find/follow you on social media?
If you’d like to read about other Rockstar Runners, click HERE!