(This is a LHRL Member spotlight of Sarah Elizabeth Landen told by her in her own words.)

After leaving a marriage that resulted in years of domestic violence, I went for my annual check-up. My doctor said my blood pressure was high and I would most likely need to go on medication because I was 250+ lbs. and 5’3”. My mom passed when I was a teen because of high blood pressure so something clicked in my head that day. I knew I was the only one that my son could count on. I had to live for him. I went to the work the next day and told everyone I would lose 100 pounds in one year. They all laughed at me.

Before and after for Sarah Elizabeth

June 2, 2016 was the day I changed my life. I literally went cold turkey and detoxed my body. I gave up my multiple daily Diet Cokes, my sugar, and all processed foods. I literally only ate food that grew from the earth for about a month. I went through a week of what felt like an actual drug detox. I even had to take a day off work because my vision was crazy one day. I immediately got a membership to a cheap gym. I was very defeated after only being able to do the elliptical for 7 minutes. I was literally dripping with sweat, bright red, and so embarrassed. I texted my brother because he was the only one that truly believed I could lose 100 pounds. He told me to go on the elliptical the next day for 7 min and 30 seconds. I did that. I kept adding a couple more seconds until I was able to tolerate more. I wasn’t willing to quit. In the beginning I ended up developing a bad Baker cyst in the back of my knee and “needed” surgery. I just kept on working out and eating healthy. I was determined not to have surgery and get this weight off.

Before and after for Sarah Elizabeth

October 2016, I got very jealous of everybody that was running the Chicago Marathon. I knew with my severe asthma; I could never do anything like that. Well, my crazy brother convinced me to sign up because it would help me get through the “fat months” as he called it. Over the course of a year I found a studio style gym that literally taught me how to eat healthy, how to work out with good form and use weights. Someone there told me that it would never get easier, but I would become stronger, be able to handle it, and even eventually enjoy it.

I never went on a diet and I never had weight loss surgery. I just kept getting advice from Elijah and I ended up becoming good friends with a trainer at the gym I joined. She helped me, especially near the end to get rid of the last of the hundred pounds by June 2, 2017.  She also helped me learn how to have a healthier relationship with food. It wasn’t easy, I was rarely motivated, I got injured a lot, I cried a lot during and after workouts. The only time I could do workouts was waking up at 3:30 every morning. I never gave myself excuses. I just pushed on. It’s possible for anyone. I have a lot of health problems including moderate asthma, arthritis, and knee issues. I literally couldn’t even run a block in the beginning.

I lost my 100 in the beginning of June, joined the most amazing running group that literally taught me to run. I ran my Chicago Marathon in 2017! I literally had runners high during the entire thing. I had hordes of friends lined up to watch me throughout the entire race. One friend even drove 2 1/2 hours with her kids to see me for 5 seconds as I ran by! Elijah and his family flew in so he could run with me. It was one of the best days of my life. I felt so accomplished and on top of the world. I never knew my fat asthmatic self could do something so incredible. I was ready to sign up for my second marathon right after I finished. I since have run 6 marathons and 1 ultra. 2.5 of those races were with my brother Elijah.

Sarah Elizabeth and brother Elijah
Sarah Elizabeth and her supporter and brother Elijah

Now I can’t ever imagine going back. I love working out. I love running. My favorite thing is waking up in the morning, running by the lake while watching the sunrise, coming home and doing a crazy ass strength or HIIT work out after! My fitness journey saved my life and was literally my therapy getting through leaving my ex-husband and learning how to live without fear or regret. Things are still not perfect, but I have so much more peace and feel so much happier and best of all I am mentally and physically strong! I honestly could not have done it without the support of my brother. Just knowing someone believed in me was enough.

(Thank you for sharing your incredible life transformation with us, Sarah Elizabeth!)