Today’s Rockstar Runner has an amazing story – she ran her way back to health and replaced a food addiction with a Disney Race addiction! Meet Rachel Bird, aka DisneyBird:
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I come from a line of food addicts. My great grandfather died at 44 at 400 lbs, my grandfather died at 46 at 450 lbs, and my father had his first heart attack due to obesity at 36 years old and in his late 40’s had a permanent defibrillator placed into his chest. Last July at 376 pounds, I decided to take my life back. I started eating clean, walking, and since have lost 110 pounds. I really didn’t want to die, but my food addiction and laziness got the best of me. I have a 12 year old son with Autism and I want to make sure that I will be here for him, and my family.
How/why did you start running?
My friend Danielle said to me last year before I started my journey, “You should run, we can do a Run Disney run together.” I thought she was insane, but registered for the Disneyland 5K in August. I didn’t even start to “run” until a few weeks before. I could barely walk a mile in 22 minutes. I have always said that I hated running and would never run. It just wasn’t something that I wanted to do. After the Disneyland 5K, I knew I had to do another race…I have run three 5k’s, two 10k’s and one half marathon since, in the last 8 months.
What do you love about running – what keeps you coming back time after time?
I love knowing that I can push myself to do things that I never thought possible. I love the feeling accomplishment after I run. I see people running on the streets and I just want to get out of my car and start running with them. When I am hiking or walking somewhere I just want to start running!
How do you get yourself out the door on days when you’re just not ‘feeling it’?
I just remember that I couldn’t even walk a mile 8 months ago, and I don’t want to get back to feeling the way I did. On the harder days, I put my workout clothes on so I don’t have any excuses not to get up and workout.
Do you have an inspirational and/or funny running story (or stories!) to share with us?
When I started running, I had lost about 30 lbs, so I was still about 350. When I would run, I would always get looks that weren’t so positive…I even had a trainer use me to his client as an example of what NOT to be. I was crushed. BUT, there were so many people who would be nice and say “You can do it!” “ You got this!”
One day at the park where I started running, a lady in her 70’s was running and walking, and as I passed her, I was huffing and puffing and running really slow…she was walking and all of a sudden she was running next to me. She said, “I didn’t think I could run another 10 seconds, but then I saw you running, and I know it’s not easy for you, and I knew that if you could do it, I could.” I just thought it was so sweet. Being a plus size runner, some days it’s our own insecurities that might not make us want to get out there…I have gotten over that. I love the quote, “you are lapping everyone on the couch” because I spent so much time sitting on the couch wallowing in why I was so obese and hurt so much. Now, being out there, running, working out and living my best life, just makes me happy!
How has running changed your life?
In so many ways! I have made some amazing running friends. Also, doing all of the races I have, just the feeling of joy (and pain) with all of the other runners has been so inspiring. The weight loss has changed my life more that I could ever imagine. Being able to feel confident about myself has changed my life.
What words of wisdom do you have for brand new runners?
You can do it! Just get out there. If you don’t know where to start, put your shoes on, get out and just start. Take it slow and easy. You don’t have to run the entire time. I do intervals, and at first felt like a failure because I wasn’t running the entire time. Now, I run 5:1 intervals. I feel great, and most times I run over my 1 minute walking intervals. Run at your own speed, don’t worry if people are passing you. It’s about YOUR run and how YOU are feeling. There will be good runs and there will be HARD runs. Don’t let it stop you. Try just to run for 60 seconds and then walk for 2 minutes. Those 60 seconds will feel like 60 minutes, but you CAN do it!
What are your favorite inspirational blogs to follow?
I love Running with Curves, because it has made me understand that I don’t have to look like a “runner” to be a runner. What I mean in that is, when people see me, they don’t get that I run. I get quotes like, “do you actually run?” “Oh you must just Jog” To be honest, my first few runs I was so shy and nervous and felt like I was sticking out, but the reality is runners come in ALL sizes. Also I love the Facebook and IG page Flex it Pink. It is two everyday women who have been on their own journeys, and they inspire and motivate women.
Have you ever been injured running, and how did you recover?
Being 376 pounds when I started I feel like I was just one big injury. Knee pain, shin splints, Achilles issues. I have to say, I love KT Tape. Their videos on how to tape yourself have helped me SO much. I have lateral meniscus pain in my right knee and tape up for every race. It works so well and has been alleviating pain!
What running gear do you think you can’t live without?
I cannot live without my KT Tape! Also, I use a Fitletic running belt. I have several different kinds. I also love my Ironman Yurbuds. They stay in my ears, I can control my music and not have to fuss with my phone.
What was your favorite race?
My favorite races are the Disneyland races. They are so much fun, and there are so many different kinds of runners. I really loved the Star Wars run! I’m doing the Tinkerbelle 10K in a few weeks and cannot wait for it! I also really loved The Great Race in Agoura Hills. It was so organized and such a great event!
What are your top 3 songs to listen to when you run?
I love this album 55 Running Mixes Smash Hits from iTunes. (pic included) It has all kinds of current songs that they mix into faster running mixes…I put it on shuffle and because its 55 songs (3:37 mins) it’s never monotonous and always is different. I also LOVE Geronimo by Sheppard and Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. Brave, the running mix, always gets me running and gives me wings as well!!
Treadmill or outdoors?
Outdoors! I have an elliptical and spin bike at home but all of my running in outside. There I just something about being out in the open air, birds chirping, sunshine on my face.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
I want to say how much Running With Curves has helped me. It has shown me that there are other women like me. That we all have good days, but a lot of bad days as well. That if we go off of the wagon or fall, we can get back up, go forward and succeed. That we do not have to conform to society’s idea of what women should look like. We are REAL women, we love deeply and work fiercely for our goals and what we want.
How can we find/follow you on social media?
Thanks Rachel for sharing your story!
If you’d like to read about more Rockstar Runners, click HERE.