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The Turnaround

  • By Matt Fitzgerald
  • Published Sep. 18, 2009

ING Philadelphia Distance Run participant goes from fat to fit.

It was a routine physical examination three years ago that started it. Cristi Boddy, then 36, was told that she was pre-obese, and the news hit her like a ton of bricks. “It was monumental,” says the lifelong resident of Haddon Township, NJ, in the greater Philadelphia area. “I didn’t want that for myself, but I want to be there for my kids, and I never wanted them to be told they were obese.”

Of course Boddy knew she was overweight, but like so many of us, the extra pounds had seemingly come out of nowhere after she reached adulthood, and her view of herself had not fully caught up with the changes in her body. “I was always small and skinny, but then I just started eating and my weight skyrocketed over a four-year period,” she says.

Boddy had had good intentions to eat more healthily and start exercising in the past, but now she was determined. Fortunately, she had a very supportive husband, Michael, who stepped up to give her the support she needed. “He changed everything about our lifestyle,” Boddy says. “He changed when we eat, how we eat, what goes into cooking it-he just completely took over.”

She got a gym membership and began working out several times a week. Boddy had never exercised or participated in any sport previously. Seeing the results, she figured that if a little exercise was good, more was better. “I saw that I was losing the weight and I was feeling really good,” she says, “and I just wanted one more thing, so I decided that if I was going to the gym, I might as well run to the gym.”

Although her fitness club was located only half a mile from her home, Boddy barely made it the first time. Nevertheless, something about it felt right, and the more she ran the better it felt. Now, she says, “I love it. It’s a necessity. I love the accomplishment of it. I love the serenity of it. I love that alone time-silent time. No iPod, just silence.”

When she was routinely running three miles, a friend asked Boddy asked if she would like to sign up for the Broad Street Run, a classic Philadelphia road race held in May. Boddy recalls, “I looked it up and found that it was 10 miles and said, ‘Absolutely not. But that will be my goal.’”

Two years and 40 lost pounds later, Boddy at last felt ready to sign up for the Broad Street Run, and even then her longest training run was just five and a half miles. But she finished-and not only finished, but did so with a very respectable time of 1:27:54 (8:48/mile). She says, “As soon as I crossed the finish line I said, ‘I want to run a half marathon.’”

That half marathon is Sunday’s ING Philadelphia Distance Run. Boddy completed her longest training run, 12.4 miles, last Saturday, and she feels ready. “An hour and 50 minutes is my goal,” she says. “I’m hoping that with the camaraderie and the adrenaline and my preparation that I will pull it off.”

The very next weekend, Boddy will run a 5K with her three daughters, Amanda, 13, Ashley, 11, and Alexis, 8. It will be their first race, and their mother, who started this journey for their sake, couldn’t be happier about the effect that her transformation has had on them.

“They look at everything they eat,” Boddy says. “They talk about it. They shoot down McDonald’s. They know that it’s important that they stay healthy. They’re all interested in running-not to the extent of being runners yet-but they are interested in it as a hobby and as a family thing. It’s fun. I think this first race is going to hook them.”

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Matt Fitzgerald

Matt Fitzgerald

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