This week’s inspiration comes by way of Angela Marchetti, an amazing 35-year-old in Blue Bell who’s lost a whopping 87 pounds in the past year and a half. It wasn’t easy—Angela’s had a lot of setbacks, including an emergency gallbladder surgery just weeks before she was supposed to run Broad Street last year. But guess what? Angela not only ended up running Broad Street—she positively killed it. And the finish gave her the confidence and drive to complete three more races (all half-marathons!) last year. Amazing, right?
Read Angela’s incredible weight-loss story below, in her own words.
Tell me about pre-weight-loss Angela.
Two years ago, I weighed 265 pounds. I was always a heavier girl growing up, even though I took dance class and played softball and field hockey. As I got older, I wasn’t super active. I moved out here a few years ago after a bad accident and was on lots of medication. I also didn’t know anybody here, so I didn’t go out or socialize. I stayed home, ate and watched television. I joined a gym but wasn’t seeing results. I tried Weight Watchers but it didn’t work for me.
I had the flu really badly two years ago. I had it for four months and couldn’t shake the symptoms. I was tired all the time, always felt run down. Finally I saw a rheumatologist and had bloodwork done. They did a test that measures the amount of inflammation in your body. Someone my age—I was 32—should be between 0.3 and 0.8. I was at 3.1 when the results came back. The doctor said, “You’ve got a lot of weight on your system. I would venture to say that you are probably obese on the BMI scale. You need to do something. You’re 32, you’re overweight and you have psoriatic arthritis. By the time you’re 45, you’ll need hip and knee replacements.”
I cried. No one had been that blunt with me before. It was a huge wake-up call and I knew he was right—I was digging my own grave.
What was the first step you took?
I was feeling story for myself, so a friend told me about a website called My Fitness Pal that she thought could help. She was right—it’s fantastic. It took a little time to get used to logging everything I ate, but I the biggest thing I learned was portion control. I also started making friends through the site—people online I hadn’t met who were going through the same thing as me. I was like, “I’m starting at 265. I’m big, and I know it. I don’t want to be this way.” They’ve been super supportive and encouraging.
What about fitness?
I’m not a big fan of going to the gym. I don’t like using a machine and feeling like people are breathing down your neck to get on after you. I had to find something I enjoy. I wound up going to a Zumba class and loved it. I used to dance so it was a good fit. I found a great instructor and she really motivated me. I told her my story. After the first few months, I could see the weight coming off.
How much weight, total, have you lost so far?
I’ve lost 87 pounds, so right now about 178. It’s taken me since August 2011. I still have 40 to 45 pounds to lose.
I used to be between a size 18 and 22, and as far as shopping went, it was Lane Bryant or nothing. I didn’t fit into any other stores’ clothes. When I first started losing weight, I felt overwhelmed, excited and scared: overwhelmed because, wow this is really happening; joy because I’m seeing success other than a number on a scale; and scared because suddenly I’m not going to have anything to wear. Now I wear a size 10. Today I’m wearing a French Connection dress that’s a size medium. I haven’t seen a medium since middle school.
When did you start running?
I had done the Couch to 5K program before so I knew I had it in me. But when I went to the doctor and he told me I had to lose weight, he said because of my arthritis, I couldn’t do any exercise that was hard on my knees—no running, no jogging. Once I started Zumba and was feeling okay, I started thinking,”If I ran a 5K already, I could probably still run at least a 5K now.” I got properly fitted for shoes and got my sister to run with me. We started little by little increasing our mileage.
Last February when they announced the Broad Street Run, I signed up. I thought it would be a good goal. Between February and March, I wound up getting sick and losing my gallbladder. I was in the hospital for an entire month. By the time I was recovering, it was the beginning of April, and Broad Street was just a month away. My doctor said there was no way I could run it—I was still healing—but when he gave me the greenlight to start running a week later, I went out and did two miles. It was painful, but I was so proud of myself. I added more and more miles, and the week before Broad Street I was up to 10 miles. I ran Broad Street in 1:55:12. By the end of last year, I ran three half marathons.
How did running feel with your knees?
I remember distinctly that everything would hurt. You’ve got fat giggling and you’re not sure if you’re even running correctly. I just decided that I was going to run, even though it was painful, and if I got faster in the process, that would be a bonus. At first it was very painful. I kept a journal of my workouts, jotting down this wasn’t so good, so tomorrow I’m going to try something different and see how I feel. As the weight started to come off, running was less painful on my knees.
What are your running goals for this year?
I decided to join a running group, and I’m running Broad Street again this year. My ultimate goal is to run the Philly Marathon.
Would you say you’re addicted to running?
I would always look at people who were running and think, “These people are crazy! Who’s going to go out and run for fun?” But for me it’s become a way to get out of my everyday. It’s an escape. Running is for me—it’s all me. I don’t have to depend on anyone else, or worry about anyone else. It’s my time.
When I post on Facebook that I went out for a run or share photos from the half marathons, it’s very humbling. I’m not a showy person; I don’t like to show off or brag. But with losing all this weight and knowing how hard it’s been and then posting photos, people have been so supportive. They’ll say, “You’re such an inspiration. Look at what you’ve done, look at where you’ve come from, look at how you’ve persevered, and look where you ended up.” And it’s not even the end of the journey yet for me.
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