When Aimee Smith agreed to do an interview for a local TV station, she never expected it would inspire this many people.
“I had no inclination they were going to send it to CNN, and it would go viral,” said Aimee. “I had to warn my husband the other day. You know, I just want to let you know you’re on the Daily Mail in England. Your picture is on their website.”
Just a few years ago, with the scale topping 400 pounds, Aimee realized she had to change her life. “You’re going to either take control of you life, or you’re going to die. If you wake up today, it’s time to do something about it.”
That was when Smith decided to undergo gastric bypass surgery. Despite being the initial catalyst for her weight loss, Aimee said it’s a decision that she regrets. “If I was given the opportunity again I would not do it. No matter what method you use to lose weight, it comes down to eating and exercise. I didn’t know about whole food then.”
Since then she’s met Coach Kitty, who got Aimee out of the rut she was stuck in at 250 pounds when she was still eating a lot of processed foods.
“[Kitty] really has opened my eyes a lot to clean eating and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and that whole mess.” Aimee’s coach has helped her begin training for marathons, triathlons, and, this year, her first half Ironman. “She just seems like she knows everything about everything.”
10 Questions with Someone who Changed
1. What made you decide to change your life?
I had my daughter, my second daughter, 4 years ago in August of 2008. And I had a c-section where I had some really bad health problems after that. I knew at 300–I didn’t know what I was really–but at 300, I couldn’t be a good mom. All my health problems stemmed back to my weight. It was time to do something.
2. What’s the journey been like the past few years?
It’s been tough to be totally honest. The hardest thing for me to do was to break up my relationship with food. When I grew up, I was always heavy. I was 300 pounds right out of high school. It was my best friend. I had to lose that relationship, which actually now was the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve lost a lot of friends from this whole weight loss deal. But the best relationship that I’ve lost was the one with food. I mean, I enjoy food now, and, you know, if I want a cookie I don’t have the guilt associated with having a cookie. I’m going to go have the damn cookie and be done with it. I can have one and not a hundred anymore.
3. Do you have a moment that signifies all the success you’ve had?
I did the River to Ridge Half-Marathon this past September. It was my second half-marathon of the year, and it was way tougher than the first one. The first one I did in Kenosha in May was very flat [. . .] I did it in like 3 hours and 1 minute. I thought, I’ll never beat that time here in Janesville because it goes through Arbor Ridge which is really hilly [. . .] I took 6 minutes off my time officially, but I stopped for pictures and did a little bit of messing around that could have been 10 minutes. I’d gotten that much quicker and that much stronger just from May to September. I surprised myself because I didn’t think I could do that.
4. You’ve said you had trouble calling yourself an athlete. Why is that?
Part of me thinks I’m 400 pounds. That’s such a term–an athlete–cause you think of the Brett Favres and Aaron Rodgers of the world. I’m a big football fan. I don’t necessarily think of myself as an athlete, but when you look at the definition of what an athlete is, it’s someone who is training for an event. I guess I qualify, but it’s hard to wrap yourself around it. That would be like someone calling me a ballerina. That’s how foreign it is.
5. You’ve done two triathlons now. What’s your favorite form of exercise?
I always like running. Well, not always, but this last year and a half I’ve really enjoyed running. My mind wanders. It goes like 100 miles a minute, but when I run I can put my iPod on and all the voices in my head shut off.
6. What’s the best advice you’ve gotten?
Kitty says this all the time: “Change your food, change your life.”
7. Was it a challenge changing your relationship with food?
It was when I started it, yeah. I thought, well I’ll have the surgery, and I’ll still be able to eat what I want to, just not as much [. . .] I was always a fast food junkie. I couldn’t do that now just because it slows me down. I mean, it would literally make me sick, and I couldn’t do that. Once I realized the trigger behind the eating, it kind of woke me and said, “Oh you don’t need to do that anymore.”
8. What’s your favorite go-to healthy dinner or snack?
We have fresh fruit with us in the house all the time. I’ve got pineapple. I’ve got mango. I love to try new things too. One of my goals every week when I go grocery shopping is to find something new or try a new recipe or a new spice. I try to work something around that. And I make my own–their called energy balls. I use peanut butter, oatmeal, flax seed, chia seeds. My current batch has dried blueberries. They got honey in it. That you can’t have [as a vegan]. I use those a lot when I go running.
You kind of learn to work with what you can. When I go to a race they always hand out gels. I can’t eat those gels because they’re full of sugar. If I eat them I’m either going to be throwing up or I’m going to be in the bathroom, so I have to make a way of doing my own thing. When I go to a race I literally look like I’m packed for a year, and I have it timed out–Kitty and I have it timed out to the minute. Every 40 minutes you need to eat this. Every hour you have to drink this.
9. Now that you’ve come so far, what are your goals for 2013?
Oh, I have like 20 of them this year. I’ve never been one to set goals. I’m going to do a marathon [. . .] and I’ve got–I don’t know if it’s 5 or 6 triathlons I’m going to do, but my biggest one is I’m going to a half Ironman in Racine in July. Seventy point three miles on my feet, literally pretty much, within 8.5 hours. That should be a big thing considering I’m a non-swimmer.
The only good thing about this whole deal is that I’ve moved up in an age group now. USAT triathlon rules go with your age on [December 31st]. I’ve moved up. Technically I’m not 45 yet, but I will be this whole year because of that. I’m in the same age group as some really strong swimmers I know so I’m like, “I’m just going to get behind you and follow.”
10. Anything else you’d like to share?
It’s never to late to start. And that’s my deal, and I just want people to know that [. . .] I don’t feel guilty if I eat the cookie. I realized I didn’t make a good choice. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person. I’ve made a bad choice. That’s how I took the emotion out of eating for me, and that helped me look at things so different.
From ABC/WKOW: Wisconsin Woman: From 427 Pounds to Triathlete
From Huffington Post: Aimee Smith, Wisconsin Mom, Loses 222 Pounds to Become Triathlete