Two Harbors runner is winning by losingIt was sweet sweat and tears on Cally Olson’s tongue as she sat on a picnic table off Scenic Highway 61. Behind her were 13 miles, more than 100 pounds, and any lingering doubts.
By: Mike Creger, Lake County News-Chronicle
It was sweet sweat and tears on Cally Olson’s tongue as she sat on a picnic table off Scenic Highway 61. Behind her were 13 miles, more than 100 pounds, and any lingering doubts.
It was early June, and she had been testing her new body for the Garry Bjorkland Half-Marathon she will run today.
“I choked up,” she said, explaining the tears as she waited for her husband.
“It was fun to pick her up,” Wade Olson said. “To see that smile on her face. It was a milestone for the whole journey the past 13 months.”
As Cally Olson says, Wade “married a thin girl who became a fat girl.”
Through years of yo-yo dieting, depression and a total lack of energy, Olson went from 120 pounds in her early 20s to a 33-year-old who weighed 255.
“I was on a total cycle,” she said. “I hit 200 pounds and thought, oh my God, how am I going to lose this?”
Last year, the Two Harbors resident decided she needed to take drastic action. She opted for a gastric sleeve bypass operation April 29 that would leave her stomach the size and shape of a hot dog.
It was a difficult decision for someone who grew up in an active, fit family. She was a three-sport high school athlete in Silver Bay.
But somewhere in a busy adult work schedule and the birth of her son, Brody, four years ago, “I
She needed a kick-start, she said, and the surgery was it.
When her mother, Lauri Hohman, heard about the decision, she cried. “I wanted her to do it in a more natural way,” she said. But looking at her daughter’s desperation through all the diets and the sluggishness, coupled with sleep apnea, she backed her decision.
“I was sweating just blow drying my hair in the morning,” Olson said.
Her mother wasn’t sure she would stick to the exercise and diet regimen required post-surgery. Many had their doubts, even Olson.
Six weeks after the surgery, she grudgingly began workouts four days a week. She said one factor in not exercising in the past was the embarrassment of heading to a gym with a super-sized body. “When you’re 200-some pounds, everything is bouncing.”
She did power yoga and Pilates, a strenuous muscle-toning plan.
“Surgery can make a big difference,” Wade Olson said, “but it’s exercise and eating right.”
She regained energy and started to feel good about herself. More than 30 pounds melted off in a few weeks.
She was the pride of her doctors, a “poster child” for how to use the surgery plus a changed lifestyle to meet goals.
She eats less, but isn’t restricted in what she eats. “All I have is a smaller stomach,” she said. “This is a tool.”
The weight kept coming off. Doctors often call the year after surgery a “honeymoon phase,” Olson said, and wouldn’t have expected the kind of transformation she’s shown.
She realized she needed to work on a cardio exercise regimen after going on a 12-mile hike with her mother last fall. “It killed.”
She hadn’t done much running in her past, but she got on the treadmill. Soon, she didn’t feel “like the fat girl running.” By February, she was 100 pounds lighter. When she saw that number on the scale, she signed up for the half-marathon.
“I figured if I could lose 100 pounds in less than a year and work out religiously four days a week for close to a year, I can run or walk 13 miles.”
Her new-found energy and positive outlook oozes out of her.
“I’ve got my old daughter back,” Hohman said. They will run together today, along with seven other friends and family members.
Her husband says he, too, is thrilled to have the “old Cally back,” a woman who can go on walks with their son and be part of an active family.
“Our home life is happier,” he said.
“I’ve never been healthier, stronger or happier in my whole life,” Olson said. Today, she weighs 120 pounds again. “I’m 34 and I have my life back.”