Former Fat Girl of the Week

Former Fat Girl of the Week is a place for us to come to celebrate and learn from the success and achievements of one another. Former Fat Girls of the Week are regular women like you and me, living normal lives, but are extraordinarily inspirational. This is their time to shine, and I hope you are as inspired by them as I am.

Name: Tracey Gessner
Age: 31
Occupation: Stay-at- home-mom, wife, wannabe writer, marathon runner!
Twitter: @tmgessner

What's your weight/fitness story?

I've always been active. I studied modern dance in college (a really useful major, right?) and had attended group fitness classes on and off for years before I decided I wanted to transform myself in to a runner.

I joined a gym and started running on the treadmill with the goal of eventually running a 5K. After I ran the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in 2008 I decided that the following summer I would double my running distance to a 10K. However, by the time May 2009 rolled around, I was convinced by my friend Anne to train for the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon and I thought I had surely lost my sanity. Turns out it was the best thing I could have done for myself.

I'm now planning to run two marathons in 2010 and one day hope to complete an ultra-marathon. The Crazy: It's contagious!

Tracey - the marathoner!

What was your turning point and/or "Ah-ha!" moment?

I always say it was harder to get my body to run that first 3 miles than it was to train from 3 to 26. It sounds nuts but just building a solid base is the most difficult thing and it takes a lot of time and dedication.

My "ah ha" moment was one day on the treadmill when I finally realized I was trying to run too fast. I was stuck at running 5 or 6 minutes before I felt like i wanted to walk so I dropped my speed from 5.8 - 6mph to around 5.2mph and suddenly I found myself jogging for 15 minutes nonstop. Now that may sound pretty darn slow but it worked for me in the beginning and over time I was able to build up speed and now my average pace is around 6.5 - 7mph.

How has losing weight/being healthy & fit changed your life?

Recently, my attempts to be healthy and fit more publicly have brought me closer to the Milwaukee community. I've lived here for four years now but it wasn't until I started chatting with people via Twitter and Daily Mile about my training that I became connected to a core group of people with similar fitness goals.

I feel that proclaiming my goals on the internet has held me more accountable and it's also allowed me to meet some really incredible people - online and in real life!

How often do you exercise?

Right now I tend to work out in some shape or form about 6 days a week. This could be running, riding the elliptical, strength training or even an exercise dvd at home. Sometimes I tell myself I need to take another rest day but I usually always end up doing something. :)

Tracey, now

What is your favorite workout?

A loooong, slow, indulgent run. Right now I'm working on getting my speed up so I love the days when I get to relax and take it slow. There's just something so satisfying about it.

What 5 food items are "must haves" in your kitchen?

  • Tons of fresh fruits and veggies. I've recently changed my diet to include more fresh food over processed foods and carbs and my body is feeling awesome. I haven't cut out all carbs but I find that you can eat so much more when you stick to a veggie based diet and you never feel like you are starving.
  • Harvestland boneless, skinless, chicken breast - Most of the meals I make revolve around chicken. There's so just so many different ways you can dress it up and it's good for you too.
  • Skinny Cow Fudge bars- I have such a sweet tooth and if my kids are having hot fudge sundaes I don't feel like I'm depriving myself so much if I have one of these. Sometimes I have one in the middle of the afternoon too. Shhhhh.
  • Fiber One cereal- I start every day with a bowl of this and a piece of wheat toast. A small bowl really fills me up and gives me energy to start the day.
  • Coffee and Red wine. (Ok, that two but a girl's gotta have a few vices. Sorry!)

What is your favorite motivational/inspirational quote?

"This is how you get better." My running buddy Anne told me this during our marathon training and I think about it whenever I particularly need a push.

How do you find balance in your life?

Wow, this is always a struggle. I have bad days. I get lazy. I eat poorly sometimes. But somehow I always pull myself together the next morning and work to get back on track. You have to keep thinking long term and realize that eating half a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough one day doesn't mean you're a failure or a weak person overall.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Completing the marathon was pretty big but I'm going soft and saying my two awesome daughters. They are still a work in progress though so check back with me when they are teenagers.

Tracey completes her marathon!

What do you love most about your body?

I don't look like it but I am strong. Call me if you need any furniture moved. Also, after years of dance training I feel like I can be pretty graceful when I want to be. I can pick up sequences of movement really fast as well.

Are you working towards a particular goal we can support you in (upcoming races, events, etc)?

Right now I'm planning on running two marathons this year. First up is a marathon in Rockford, Illinois this May. I'll also be running the Lakefront Marathon again here in Milwaukee in October. I'm hoping to get progressively faster with each race but I haven't settled on an exact time yet.

What are the last 5 songs played on your iPod?
  • Wake Up - The Arcade Fire
  • This is Not a Test - She & Him
  • Your Ex-Lover is Dead - Stars
  • In the Aeroplane Over the Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel
  • Fidelity - Regina Spektor

What weight loss/fitness tools do you use that you rely on in your weight loss/fit life journey?

I have realized that I have the best discipline in the world when it comes to working out but my eating habits are another story. I find that I absolutely have to keep track of what I eat - whether I'm trying to lose weight or maintain.

Right now I'm using to log my meals and I'm having a lot of success with it so far. When I started running long miles I kind of went overboard rewarding myself with food so having a food journal really helps keep me in check!

Anything else you would like to add?

I can't say this enough: 3 years ago I couldn't even run a mile. Anything is possible!

They say you may be a hero (or an example) to someone, although you may not know it. Tracey is that person for me. As a mom with two children, I am in awe of Tracey and her accomplishments, and from my point of view - a very balanced life. She is an outstanding mom, amazing contributor to the Milwaukee community, and thinspirational individual, and juggles it all with poise and grace. Tracey, thank you for being a wonderful inspiration, I am very proud to feature you as a Former Fat Girl of the Week! Please be sure to follow Tracey on Twitter, check out her blog, Tracey's Space, or get motivated at Fit Milwaukee.


"The big secret in life is there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work." Oprah Winfrey


Marcelle said...

another inspiration. Running is something I only learned to love this year so can relate...

MackAttack said...

I love these posts! Tracey, It's great to see that the starting out slow running has gotten you to finishing a marathon and not hating it! I've tried to run before, but I think I always went too fast and hated it. Thanks for the inspiration!

tombetz said...

Tracey is amazing. Kicking back "old school" I remember "LSD" Long slow distance running which was promoted as a training method as an alternative to the dominant school of training for distance running which was called “PTA" school of running- pain, torture, and agony”. LSD runs are long at a talking pace—the minute you can’t talk,you are going too fast.- typically done at an easy pace, 1-3 minutes per mile slower than your 10k pace. It's a whole way of looking at the sport. Those who employ it are saying running is fun - all running, not just the competitive part which yields rewards.

Andrew is getting fit said...

Very inspirational!

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love these stories! I'm a Peace Corps Volunteer serving in Ukraine hoping to train for and compete in some international half and full marathons during my two years of service -- sometimes I get so frustrated here in Ukraine being a vegetarian in the middle of a carb-loaded winter country, but reading all these stories gives me the boost I need to find small ways to make myself feel better, like doing an extra workout video on my laptop, or walking around my snowy town to enjoy my unique environment and exercise at the same time. Thank you so much for the constant inspiration!


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