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From Obesity to Marathon Running

The inspiring story of a woman determined to lose weight. Faith helped her succeed…and run a marathon.

By Rosemarie Jeanpierre, Los Angeles, California

As appeared in

Good thing Kenneth was there. “You can do this, Rose,” he told me. “You’re stronger than you think.”

But I wasn’t so sure.

Two weeks after that jarring doctor’s appointment, I anxiously stepped on the scale. I watched the needle hover then stop…at 219. “One lousy pound!” I cried. “How can that be possible?”

Clearly I needed to pray about this again. Lord, maybe I’m just not cut out for this healthy living thing. I really need you to show me what to do. I’m lost.

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Learning more couldn’t hurt, I figured, so I did more research online. I discovered that I could still eat some of my favorite meals, just in smaller portions. I started experimenting with recipes and spices and even tried some tropical fruit (like those I’d eaten as a little girl in the Philippines) for dessert. Who knew that healthy food could taste so good?

I made progress with the exercise too. After about a month, I could jog twice around the block without gasping for breath. We had some gorgeous views here in L.A., views I had never seen from the sofa.

Each night I wrote in my journal, reminding myself of why I was working so hard: “Today, I was tempted with cake at work. Then I remembered what the doctor said. Being around for my family is more important.”

Six months into my new lifestyle, and I had dropped 60 pounds. My scrubs hung loose, and late shifts didn’t tire me out so much. I felt a lot better than I had in years.

Kenneth noticed a change in me too. “You look so great,” he told me. “But the best thing is that you’ve been smiling a whole lot more.”

By my annual physical, I had lost 80 pounds. Eighty! My doctor was delighted with my progress. But my routine of eating healthy and exercising was becoming…well, routine. You can probably guess what I did: I asked God to show me what to change next.

Not long after, Ruby-Ann and Fernand came to visit. Fernand got up early one morning and saw me jogging. “You’re pretty fast, Auntie,” he said. “Ruby-Ann and I are competing in the next L.A. Marathon. Why don’t you sign up and run with us?”

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He must be joking! I thought. A marathon wasn’t exactly what I had in mind to shake up my routine. “No way,” I told him. “That’s over twenty-five miles. I can’t go that far. I just run around the neighborhood, maybe a couple of miles.”

But I’d prayed for a change, hadn’t I? What if the marathon was my answer? I had nothing to lose—except maybe a few more pounds. So I signed up. I trained. Hard. The more I ran, the more I loved it—setting goals, pushing my boundaries, gaining confidence.

But here I was at mile 18, my knees feeling like creaky hinges, doubts crowding my mind. Fernand and Ruby-Ann had had to drop back because he was cramping up. I was on my own. The wall was coming up. Have I pushed myself too hard? I took a deep breath to steady myself.

Just then another runner sidled up beside me. “Boy, you make this look easy!” he panted.

That was just the boost I needed. I couldn’t give up. Not now. This race wasn’t about how far I had to go—the next six miles were nothing compared to how far I’d already come.

Reinvigorated, I focused on my pace again. Before I knew it I crossed the finish line. I’d completed the L.A. Marathon in six hours and 31 minutes—not bad for a first-timer. Kenneth wrapped me in his arms, and I burst into tears of joy.

That wall? I ran right through it.