In this guest blog post, AMBER WILLIAMS, a 44-year-old mom of two teens, reveals how having a personal mission tied to a greater good helped her transform her body. Read on to find out how you can follow her amazing lead.
At the age of 35, I took my first steps on a weight loss journey with a lofty end point: lose 100 pounds. At my heaviest, in 2005, I weighed 278 pounds, leaving me with high blood pressure and a warning from my doctor that I was at risk for diabetes. Because I was so out of shape at the time, the only exercise I could tolerate was walking. So when I heard a Susan Komen 3-Day commercial on the radio, something inside me sparked. I knew I wanted to push myself to another level both for my physical health and to honor the four women in my family who had battled breast cancer.
Because I’d set a pretty big goal for myself, I started training a year before the actual walk. Let’s just say it was training for my training. That September, I got active, started walking around the block, going to the gym, anything to get moving. Then I began the 3-Day 24-week training schedule, in May 2006. I followed that program closely to prepare for my 3-Day at the beginning of November. The coaches helped me with my exercise routine and fundraising questions, and the training walks in the months leading up to the event made me confident I could pound the pavement for three days straight.
People ask me all the time how, as a working mother of two teens, I pulled off the training and fundraising for the 3-Day. It’s simple, really: I committed to something and I stuck with it. I’d get to the gym at 5:45 a.m., before my sleepy teens were up, and do about 30 minutes of cardio followed by weight-lifting. The more pounds I lost, the more energy I had, so I began to incorporate Spin classes for some cross-training. Afterward, I’d be home to wake up my kids and get them off to school. I learned that we make time for the things in life we truly enjoy, and working on myself and my goals at the gym was very important to me.
Getting ready for the 3-Day was a family affair; over the summer, my daughter would walk some early mornings or after dinner with me. My husband helped with my fundraising efforts, perfecting the letters and emails I would send out. It certainly helped make asking for money easier! I also felt a sense of community as I walked with friends after work and on weekends.
November 2006 was full of milestones. I completed my first 3-Day in Dallas and was 100 pounds lighter than the previous November. Before all this, I’d been a woman who became incredibly winded just walking down the block or up a flight of stairs. Once I crossed the finish line, I felt stronger than I ever had in my life. Through my tears and emotions, I knew the women I had loved and lost to breast cancer were smiling down upon me and were so proud too!
What else was I supposed to do other than set a new goal? In 2006 I told myself I would walk in the 3-Day for five years to maintain my health and my passion for the cause. In 2011, after I reached that milestone, my daughter Emilie, then 14, asked me to keep walking until she could join me when she turned 16. In 2013 we reached yet another milestone, and Emilie was able to participate with me for the first time. She had always been on the sidelines cheering me on, but having her walk by my side in this emotional and powerful event was incredible.
Does the training get in the way of family time? It never has, and now that Emilie is walking in the event, we train together! We share this passion, and I have never been so proud as when I watched her accomplish those 60 miles in just three days. As a team, we raise money that benefits so many women and men. Together we help to change the future of people like my mother, who is a 12-year breast cancer survivor, and my mother-in-law, aunt and grandmother, who all lost their battles with this horrible disease. We are determined to dedicate our time and effort to this event because it means so much to us.
Amber Williams celebrating Mile 59 on Day 3 with her daughter, Emilie, and Emilie’s youth director, Tom Riggs.
My advice? If you’ve heard about or are interested in participating in the 3-Day, just sign up. Set your goal. Buy some shoes. Get walking! If I can do it, anyone can. And I will be doing it again. This November I’ll mark my ninth consecutive 3-Day, 60-mile journey in the Dallas/Fort Worth walk!
Thanks to events like this, Susan G. Komen has invested more than $2.5 billion in the fight against breast cancer to date. To sign up to walk this year—or for more information—visit The3Day.org.