About a decade ago, a flight of stairs was enemy territory to Kimiko Adolph. She was all too fond of fast food. Her favorite refuge: Sleep and the living room couch.
At 268 pounds, this single mother of three realized she could change – or die.
“I was having breathing problems,” Adolph recalled.
“I had gone to the doctor and my blood pressure was going up. My heart was palpitating. I had just had a baby and I was newly divorced and I knew I had to something for myself and my children.”
The Wayne County resident began with a walk.
“I remember I went over to a park and I said, 'Let's try a mile.' I couldn't even make it around the park.”
But that first walk led to another. Walking led to running. Adolph replaced junk food and fatty snacks with a vegetarian diet. Soon enough, she was running in 5- and 10-kilometer races.
Adolph, 39, now weighs 140 pounds, her life a virtual road map for victory in the battle with obesity. In 2012, the Michigan Fitness Foundation recognized Adolph and two others with its “Conquering Obesity” award.
“It was amazing and wonderful,” Adolph said of the recognition.
Fitness Foundation officials say that some obese individuals need a support network and outside motivation in order to make healthy changes. They credit Adolph finding it within herself.
“Any time an individual can make that kind of change in life is impressive. To make those huge changes, to make those goals, takes a lot of courage,” said Jessica Holli, the foundation's communications and events coordinator.
Looking back, Adolph said her new state of well-being was reward enough to motivate her to persevere.
“Once I began doing something, the weight just came off. In the first nine months, I had lost 80 pounds. My friends began asking, 'What are you doing?' People thought that I had bariatric surgery.
“I told them I am exercising.”
She altered her diet after learning about nutrition from her doctor, a vegetarian. Her refrigerator soon was stocked with carrots, green beans, lettuce and vegetarian burgers.
The 2013 Governor’s Fitness Awards will be celebrated at a gala at Ford Field in Detroit on April 25. For more information, go to the Michigan Fitness website.
“After a while, walking got boring so I decided to run. I said, 'Let me do a 5K. Then a 10K and then it was a half-marathon.”
Since then, she has completed three 26.2-mile marathons and too many other races to remember.
An employee of Oakwood Hospital in Dearborn, Adolph has added a weight-lifting regime to her routine at the hospital gym. She runs virtually every day.
“I love it. Nothing is going to stop me.”
Ted Roelofs worked for the Grand Rapids Press for 30 years, where he covered everything from politics to social services to military affairs. He has earned numerous awards, including for work in Albania during the 1999 Kosovo refugee crisis.