NAME: Aurea Nicolet-Dones
OCCUPATION: Program Manager
HOMETOWN: Puyallup, WA
FAMILY: Husband, Jake, and children Aurea (2010) and Koben (2013)
How and why did you start?
My running life started with a trip to the emergency room. My blood sugar was three times higher than normal levels. I had been diagnosed with diabetes two years earlier, and was on oral medication and a low-carb diet. But in the midst of working, getting a cold, and taking care of my five-month-old daughter, I hadn't been as vigilant about my medication and blood sugar checks. At the ER, a doctor explained that high blood sugar could lead to coma or even death, and put her on insulin. That was it. I decided I was not going to let this disease beat me," she says. "I was not going to spend the rest of my life taking insulin. So I started walking regularly, then running on a treadmill, then entering some local 5-Ks. Now, I'm down to 179 pounds. I went from a size 22 to a size 10. I have finished a few half-marathons and am training for a marathon. Under the supervision of my doctor, I am off insulin, oral medications, and able to manage the diabetes with diet and exercise. But knowing that my children will watch me be a healthy and physically fit adult is the greatest reward.
Get Started: The Easiest Running Weight Loss Plan, Ever
Describe your regular workout routine.
I work out six days a week. I do one hour of personal training twice a week (weight training, TRX training, high-intensity interval training, and/or Zumba), run three weekdays, and then do my long runs on the weekends. In the beginning, during the personal training, my heart rate would skyrocket and take minutes to come back down. As I get stronger and healthier, my heart rate goes up and comes down quickly, a sign that my heart can withstand the higher-intensity workouts. My endurance has increased; the same activities don't require as much of a recovery period.
What was the biggest hurdle to working out?
Finding time to work out is always a struggle for a full-time employed, nursing mother, with an infant and a toddler. For my weekday short runs, I'll run during my lunch hour, while my husband is cooking dinner, or after the kids are in bed. For my long runs, I coordinate my schedule with my husband's schedule so that I can run when he can watch the kids. If there isn't time, he'll take the kids out in a bike trailer while I run so that we can all get out. When we need to go somewhere (like the store or a family member's house), my husband gets the kids ready, and I'll run to wherever we're going and meet them there.
PLUS: 50 Great Ways to Motivate Your Next Workout
What's the most rewarding part of your running life?
I was able to able to beat my diabetes! Running helped me get off insulin, get off oral medications, and live a life free of constantly worrying about my blood sugars. As I started to lose weight I was able to reduce and then eliminate the need for insulin. As the weight loss continued, my doctor allowed me to reduce and eliminate all oral medications. I currently manage my diabetes with only diet and exercise, with my doctor's monitoring.
What's the secret to your weight-loss success?
When I start to lose weight, I donate the clothes that have gotten too big for me and then I refuse to buy those sizes again. This forces me to maintain or lose weight in order to continue fitting into my new smaller-sized clothes.
TRY THIS: 50 Tips for Weight Loss That Lasts
What kinds of changes did you make to how and what you ate?
I went from eating fast food every day to eating healthier foods in smaller portions more often. The best advice I have gotten is: If you can't tell what plant or animal it came from, don't eat it.
Are there any special precautions you have to take to manage the diabetes?
I still need to be cautious of letting my sugars get too low during a long run or intense workout. I do keep a blood glucose meter with me and check my blood only when I am not feeling well. I only have to follow up with my doctor every six months to ensure that my diabetes is still under control and that I can continue a medication-free life.
What advice would you give to a beginner?
Find what motivates you. Make small goals and when you reach them, reward yourself, and then make a new small goal. For example, each time I met a small weight-loss goal, I would get a relaxing massage.
--As told to editors of Runner's World
More from Runner's World:
The Golden Rules of Weight Loss
Find the Best Shoes for Your Foot Type
Top 6 Reasons Your Weight Loss Plan Isn't Working
NAME: Aurea Nicolet-Dones