From 427 Pounds to Triathlete

ABC News Blogs
From 427 Pounds to Triathlete
.

View photo

From 427 Pounds to Triathlete (ABC News)

Aimee Smith lost half her body weight and now competes in triathlons. Photo credit: Clint Thayer / Focal Flame Photography.

Aimee Smith of Janesville, Wis., knew she was big, but since her scale only registered 300 pounds, she didn't realize how big. She finally weighed herself one day and was shocked to see the real number - 427 pounds.

"My knees hurt, my back hurt. I had high blood pressure. I was pre-diabetic. I was going down a bad path," she says. "I'm sure carrying around 400 pounds wasn't doing my health any favors."

That was a little over two years ago. Since then she's had gastric bypass surgery, completely overhauled her lifestyle and lost more than 200 pounds - half her body weight. Now she competes in triathlons and runs 10Ks. She's training for the Wisconsin marathon this upcoming May. Eventually, she'd like to do an Iron Man triathlon.

Gastric Bypass Hypnosis: Thinking Thin

"In high school I probably would have been voted least likely to do something athletic if there was such an award," she says with a laugh. "I've lost so much weight that when I went back for my 25 th reunion recently, no one recognized me. They thought my husband was the one who was in their class!"

Smith, 44, has some sage advice for anyone contemplating a similar weight-loss journey.

"You've got to change your relationship with food. Start thinking of it as fuel rather than a friend you can rush to whenever you're having an emotional problem," she says.

Smith admits that some fuels tastes better than others but once she began working with a health coach who helped her commit to a healthier way of eating, the weight really started coming off. She's learned to embrace fruits and vegetables, even "exotic" picks like kale and collard greens which she says were completely foreign fare in her previous life.

She still splurges on the occasional cookie but instead of buying a huge bag of processed junk, she goes to a local bakery or coffee shop and orders just one.

"I then can enjoy the one item - it's been very liberating to not be so tied to food," she says.

Regular exercise has also been a huge factor in her weight loss. After having surgery, she signed up for a "couch to 5k" program and took it twice. She learned to swim so she could enter triathlons. Now she loves to compete even though she usually finishes at the very back of the pack.

She's serious about training and racing but she tries to have fun with it. For her last 10K she wore a tutu and a Santa hat and kept stopping to pose for pictures.

Nothing in Smith's formula is an earth-shattering secret, but research suggests her approach is on the right track. For example, the National Weight Control Registry, which tracks successful "losers" who've dropped an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for more than five years, found 98 percent of registrants overhauled their eating habits and 94 percent increased physical activity.

Top Weight-Loss Methods Revealed

Registrants also reported relying on social support, something Smith says has been important to her. Her husband, kids and co-workers have been there to cheer her from the very first shed pound but she says one of the biggest surprises is how much encouragement she's gotten from the athletic community.

"These are serious athletes who stand on the podium at the end of a race. I expected them to be snobs. But it's been very eye-opening how compassionate they've been towards me. They love my determination and they go out of their way to let me know they're proud of me for not quitting," Smith says.

Has the long process of weight loss been discouraging at times? Sure. Especially, Smith says, because she started off with hundreds of pounds to lose.

"It's not always helpful to look at the big picture," she says. "Start small and if you can only do two steps at a time, do that and then do it again tomorrow. Progressively build on what you can."

View Comments (62)

Recommended for You

  • Deaths Reported in Medan, Indonesia After Military Plane Crashes in Residential Area

    An Indonesian Air Force C-130 Hercules with 12 people on board crashed Tuesday into a residential neighborhood in Medan, the country’s third largest city, reportedly killing at least 20 people, authorities said.Adam Malik hospital spokeswoman Sairi M. Saragih told the Associated Press that the…

    Good Morning America51 mins ago
  • How Police Caught Escaped Prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat

    A three-week manhunt for two escaped prisoners, called a "nightmare" by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, came to a violent end this past weekend when one inmate was shot and killed Friday and another was shot and apprehended Sunday. Officials announced they had reason to believe Sweat and Matt, who…

    Good Morning America
  • Escaped Prisoners: How David Sweat and Richard Matt Survived 3 Weeks on the Run

    During escaped prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat's three weeks on the run in upstate New York, Matt spent some time in a previously unknown camper in Franklin County, an official confirmed. Jon Chodat, who lives just down the road, told ABC News the camper that sheltered Matt, 48, from the…

    Good Morning America
  • Father Describes How He and His Family Escaped a Plane Crashing Into Their Home

    A father's quick thinking helped save his wife and two children when a plane hit their Massachusetts home.Aaron Rice and his family survived the Sunday evening crash that killed all three on board when it hit the Rice family's home in Plainville, near the Rhode Island border."My wife and my boys…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Ant-Man' Red Carpet: Check Out Paul Rudd and Rest of Cast at World Premiere

    The big night is finally here. Okay, well maybe "big" isn't the best word to describe "Ant-Man," which debuts tonight at the movie's world premiere in Hollywood.At 9 p.m. ET, Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas and the rest of the cast all hit the red carpet at the Dolby Theater to celebrate Marvel's latest…

    Good Morning America
  • Michael Douglas Loves Wife Catherine Zeta-Jones 'More Than Ever'

    Michael Douglas says he and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones are doing better than ever following their public separation in 2013. The 70-year-old "Ant-Man" star opened up in a new interview about his relationship with his wife, their two children and his life after cancer. "It feels like a rebirth…

    Good Morning America
  • 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup: Complete Results

    Germany, Japan and the United States, three former Women's World Cup champions, have reached the semifinals along with England, which is making its first appearance. ...

    Good Morning America
  • Looking for Quality Fishing Gear?

    Find reels, nets and much more to make your next fishing trip even more enjoyable. Compare bargains at Calibex!

    CalibexSponsored
  • Adorable Kid Helps Dad Pop the Question

    This cutie pie managed to help his dad pop the question without ever saying a word during a family photo shoot. Adam Blum decided to take advantage of the opportunity of the pre-planned shoot to pop the question to the 13-month-old boy's mom and his fiance, Hannah Roach, of Cape Girardeau,…

    Good Morning America
  • Walmart Apologizes for Making ISIS Cake for Man Denied Confederate Flag Design

    Chuck Netzhammer said he ordered the image of the Confederate flag on a cake with the words, "Heritage Not Hate," on Thursday at a Walmart in Slidell, Louisiana. A spokesman for Walmart told ABC News, "An associate in a local store did not know what the design meant and made a mistake. "That's an…

    Good Morning America
  • Taylor Swift Posts Fun Pic With Calvin Harris, Joe Jonas and Gigi Hadid

    Taylor Swift posted a fun picture on Sunday, spending time with her rumored new man Calvin Harris and another rumored couple -- Joe Jonas and Gigi Hadid. Karlie Kloss was also on the boat ride through London.Swift, 25, who famously dated Jonas back in 2008, also joked about Kloss, 22, being the…

    Good Morning America
  • 'Duck Dynasty' Star John Luke Robertson Marries Mary Kate McEacharn

    "Duck Dynasty" star John Luke Robertson married Mary Kate McEacharn on Saturday on the family farm in West Monroe, Louisiana, his rep confirmed to ABC News. "It was one of the best days of my life! It was everything I hoped it would be and more," McEacharn told US Weekly about tying the knot. …

    Good Morning America
  • How Aaron Rodgers Helped Olivia Munn Prepare for 'X-Men'

    As Olivia Munn prepares for her big role in "X-Men: Apocalypse," she's getting some help -- kind of -- from her boyfriend Aaron Rodgers.Munn posted a video showing off her sword skills for her role as Betsy Braddock, aka Psylocke, and there's a familiar face, goofing off in the background."Learned…

    Good Morning America
  • Prison Escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat Were Headed to Mexico, Gov. Cuomo Says

    Prison escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat had originally planned to flee to Mexico before the two split up last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview today. Investigators have already started getting important information from captured inmate Sweat, who is now undergoing…

    Good Morning America
  • Leap Second: Why Tuesday Will Be 1 Second Longer and Could Screw Up Your Computer

    A leap second will be added to the clock on the last day of June, creating the potential to wreak havoc on computer systems not equipped to handle the change. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems (IERS) said the extra second will be added to account for a discrepancy between…

    Good Morning America
  • Kendall Jenner Breaks Sister Kim Kardashian's Instagram Record

    Sorry, Kim Kardashian, but you no longer have the most-liked post on Instagram. That distinction now belongs to your younger sister, Kendall Jenner. Jenner, 19, set the record with a picture she posted over a month ago that now has 2.6 million likes.

    Good Morning America
  • Paul Rudd Reflects on 'Clueless' 20 Years Later

    It's been 20 years since Paul Rudd stole everyone's heart as Cher's love interest in "Clueless" and the A-lister recently took some time to reflect on the cult classic. "Who didn’t have a crush on Paul Rudd in Clueless?" the actor's "Ant-Man" co-star Evangeline Lilly said during a presser over the…

    Good Morning America
  • Avril Lavigne: 'I’m Doing a Lot Better' After Lyme Disease Treatment

    Singer Avril Lavigne said she’s seeing progress in her treatment for Lyme disease, which struck her last year while she was on tour. Her treatment regimen has included multiple antibiotics and ample rest.

    Good Morning America