JONESVILLE — A Jonesville man was able to run his first marathon after a lifestyle change that enabled him to lose 80 pounds in the space of eight months and keep the weight off since then.
On Saturday, Jan. 18, Jason Lemons and his wife, Vicki, ran together in The Charleston Marathon. The 26.2-mile marathon was the first race the couple ran together. The couple held hands as they crossed the finish line and Jason gave his wife the medal she won and then she handed him his medal.
Two years ago, however, Jason would have been unable to run the marathon with his wife or any race whatsoever because he was badly overweight.
“Back in December of 2011 I weighed 320 pounds,” Jason said.
His weight and the potential health problems it could lead to caused both Vicki and his physician to urge Lemons to get in shape.
“I got a bad report from my doctor that I was borderline diabetic,” Jason said. “I was actually already diabetic as I was on the pills.”
Jason said his doctor told him his weight not only put him at risk of diabetes but also heart attack and stroke.
“My doctor told me I needed to lose weight,” Jason said. “That and my wife asking me to lose weight is what got me started.”
In addition to asking her husband to lose weight, Vicki would help him do so by introducing him to a group that would support him in his efforts to get healthy.
“My first step was to cut back on my eating and I started walking,” Jason said. “That was the time my wife introduced me to a group in Union called ‘Don’t Quit, Get Fit’ run by Reynard Wood. That’s when I started exercising and Mr. Wood introduced me and my wife to running. We were exercising with this group two or three nights a week.”
In the eight months that followed the bad medical report that spurred him to start dieting and exercising, Jason said he lost 80 pounds, dropping from 320 pounds to 240, the weight he has maintained ever since.
Jason said he’s not finished losing weight, but maintained his current weight as a result of his training to run in the Charleston Marathon. Running in the marathon with Vicki was another milestone in his efforts to get healthy, efforts that also involved the Don’t Quit, Get Fit group.
“We started running 5Ks with the group then we started upping it and we ran our first half-marathon last year at Myrtle Beach,” Jason said. “I’ve lost 80 pounds and I’ve been maintaining this weight during marathon training which took six months.”
Jason said he hopes to get down to his high school weight of 225 pounds. He added that his doctor recently told him that he was no longer diabetic and that his risk of heart attack and stroke have been greatly reduced since he lost weight.
Vicki said she’s delighted her husband has lost weight and gotten fit, pointing out that before he did she was increasingly worried about his health.
“I pushed him to start losing weight because he was getting really unhealthy,” Vicki said. “So I was very glad when he started going to Don’t Quit, Get Fit. His health has really improved.”
Jason said the hardest part of his new lifestyle “is trying not to overeat, trying not to give in and eat fatty foods.” He said that in switching over to a healthier lifestyle he “cut out a lot of processed foods. I don’t eat a lot of sweets and no soft drinks. I’m just mainly trying to remember all that I’ve been taught through the group I’m in. ‘If it doesn’t grow naturally or doesn’t have a mother, don’t put it in your mouth.’”
This philosophy means that Jason’s diet now includes “lots of vegetables, lots of fruits, and lots of chicken and fish.”
As he continues in his efforts to lose weight and stay health, Jason said he’s guided by Don’t Quit, Get Fit’s motto.
“I always live by the motto of group, ‘Always Moving Forward, Never Looking Back.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, Ext. 14.