Kathleen completed Learn to Run in 2017 and is now an active and valued member of Run Club and the Operation Move Community. Kathleen originally shared her story in Run Club and it is reprinted here with her permission.
I was blessed with an amazing childhood. I was a very dedicated dancer, starting at the age of 2yrs. From the age of about 7 I was dancing 6 days a week, all my choice. My dancing friends were like extended family and my dancing school was my second home. I got to do some amazing things with my dancing – danced overseas, danced 4 times a year at the Sydney Opera House with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, danced in front of the Queen to open Darling Harbour in 1988, danced with and met many famous people and the list goes on and on, so yes, very blessed.
When I was in Year 9 I went on a school ski camp and it was there that I discovered something. I couldn’t fit into the normal ski boots for my size and had to wear the bigger style boots due to my calf and ankle size. This horrified me being 14, but it also confused me as I was not over weight. My legs were a little chunky compared to the rest of me but not that obvious. My mum took me to a specialist and he wanted to do all sorts of things to my legs surgery-wise. None of that seemed necessary so I just lived with it and kept dancing. As I got older I was still small everywhere but my legs continued getting chunky and by the time I was 16 to me they looked fat and abnormal. Turns out I have Lipodema (different to lymphedema) which I only discovered about 3 years ago.
Once I hit 17/18 I had backed off a lot from dancing as life and friends and boys were much more interesting. It was then that I started to gain a lot weight. Over the next few years add a horrendous relationship that led me to self destruct. Pulling myself out of that mess meant loads of weight gain. I was about 95kg when I met my husband. We moved in together extremely fast and life just went on from there. We’ve had many ups and downs but are still together 18 and a half years later…..just. I have 3 gorgeous kids who are now 8, 9 and 12. In June 2013 after getting to my heaviest weight of 138.8kg I went ahead (after many years of thinking and trying everything but) and had gastric sleeve surgery. Best thing I ever did. It gave me my life back. I dropped 30 kilos really fast and the next 10-15kgs came off pretty easy too. I have now lost over 50kgs and have about 20 to go.
One day the learn to run advert came up randomly on my facebook feed. I had always hated running but I had always been jealous of people that could run…. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I joined, got about 6 weeks in and quit. I wasn’t enjoying it, I wasn’t engaging online and my head wasn’t in it. Every run was a chore. I was disappointed in myself but didn’t believe I was capable of doing it. When the advert came up randomly again a few months later I just thought to myself you CAN do it and I knew I hadn’t really given it a chance properly first time so I signed up again.
This time my head and my heart were in it, the LTR group I was in were an amazing group of women and by about week 3 I found I was planning everything around my runs because I wanted to do them, not because I felt I had to. I found I was enjoying the headspace time to myself and the sense of accomplishment I was feeling was a real high. My love for running and op move started with that group and has just grown since then. I am proud to belong to such an amazing group of inspiring women and am proud of myself for what I am doing. I am slowly starting to let go of the ‘you can’t do that’ thoughts that enter my head and am turning those thoughts into ‘oooo, I wonder what else I could do/how far I could go’ thoughts instead. I am grateful to each and every member of Run Club for the constant support and encouragement and I love how open and honest we can all be in this group.