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Get Fit, Make a Difference

By Jenny Roberge

jennyAt first I did it for myself, but I later realized that it was bigger than me. (Pardon the pun.)

In early 2006 I weighed 285 pounds. I think even as a child I was a bit heavy, but it gradually got out of control. I would diet for a while, but then gain it back again. I realized that with the lack of exercise, and poor eating habits I was on a path of self-destruction both physically and emotionally. I decided enough was enough!

I started a strict diet, and began exercising. As I started seeing results, I became even more motivated. In six months, I had lost 100 pounds. Exercise was becoming easier. I got a bike and started commuting to and from work. I was exercising on a home treadmill, and the weight was still coming off. I remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking, “I can’t believe this is me!”  I was feeling happier and even had more confidence in my career as an x-ray technician. I joined the local YMCA and was meeting other healthy people who were giving me even more inspiration.

I noticed a couple of people who had a similar unique tattoo on their calf muscle. When I asked what that represented they said it was the M-dot, which meant they had done an Ironman. At the time, I thought they were crazy.

jennyBy 2007 I was down to a lean 125 pounds, and I thought I could handle my first sprint triathlon. I was immediately hooked. Then I decided I was going to be one of the crazies who attempted the long course. In 2008, I completed my first IM triathlon in Wisconsin with a time of 13:13. Maybe my motivation was out of control, but I had to do better. I revisited in 2009, and 2011 with my best time being a 12:12.

In the offseason, (just to stay in shape mind you) I would run marathons. I have done ten so far. I set a goal to qualify for the Boston Marathon, which I did. I ran the race and then qualified again.

My next goal was to become part of Team USA for USA Triathlon. I trained my fanny off (what was left of it anyway) and qualified and competed in the ITU Long Course World Championships representing Team USA in Henderson, Nevada. What a thrill it was competing on the world stage!

This weekend, I’m racing in the ITU World Triathlon San Diego event. I have been in two marathons in San Diego, so I know the area is beautiful, and coming from the Midwest, I consider the weather to be perfect.  A few of us Bluff Busters (our local triathlon club) were planning our race season and we agreed that nothing could more spectacular than to compete in beautiful San Diego along with some of the best triathletes in the world.

jennyWe expect the atmosphere to be very exhilarating because of the world-class talent, and the size of the field. It will be thrilling watching the elite races, and I’m sure the excitement will spill over to the age group competition with enthusiastic fan support. I am coming with four other members of the Bluff Busters and we are all excited. After the race we plan to stay for some sightseeing, and give our strict diets a break and try some San Diego fish tacos!

At times, I feel like a local celebrity. Others ask me about my diet, or training plan, and I am more than happy to help. When I see overweight people, I sympathize with them. It is unfortunate that overweight people are not treated the same as chiseled athletes.

I have decided to leverage the results that I have had so far by being an example to those that are unfit and unhealthy. I want to be an inspiration to those that need to take control of their lives, stay healthy and feel good about themselves.

Some succeed, and some don’t, but if I can be an inspiration to others, and help them to become happy and healthy, then I feel that I have made a positive contribution to society. I want to make a difference, and fitness is my platform.