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Shedding the pounds: W.Va. woman tells how she lost the weight

February 09, 2013|By RAYCHEL HARVEY-JONES | Raychel.harvey-jones@herald-mail.com
  • Shannon Martin of Martinsburg, W.Va., credits healthy eating and an exercise regime for getting herself into top shape.
Submitted photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Boxed food and canned goods used to be a way for life for Shannon Martin of Martinsburg, W.Va.

That's hard to believe when you see her teach a body pump class that would challenge the fittest of military men.

"I weighed 205 pounds and at 5 (foot) 5 (inches) I was obese, I knew I had to make a lifestyle change, a big one," Martin said. "It's true what they say you are what you eat and my diet was filled with processed food."

The turning point for Martin was when she was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis.  According to MayoClinic.com, plantar fascitis is a painful inflammation that occurs on the sole of the feet. It is common in runners, but also affects people who are overweight.

"I would wake up in the morning in extreme pain. It would take my feet at least an hour to loosen up and not cause me pain." Martin, 30, said.

"I thought, 'What's next? Insulin?' It was time to clean up my eating habits I was 24 at that time and I didn't want to succumb to other diseases such as diabetes at such a young age," she said.

Then after reading a book by Dr. Barry Sears called "The Zone," Martin said she started to eat healthier.

"It took almost two years to clean up my eating habits, but it is the foundation of a healthy lifestyle," she said.

Martin said at first she wasn't able to afford a gym membership, so she started exercising at home.

"My husband was 303 pounds at his heaviest and we both knew that we only have one life to live, so we need to make changes," she said.

Their exercise routine included push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups.

"I remember not being able to do even one pull up it was so hard," she said.

 But in 2009, she sat on the sidelines during  Freedom Runs marathon in Shepherdstown, W.Va.

"That day changed my life as I saw people of all shapes and sizes participating. I thought if they can do it, so can I," said Martin.

Martin signed up for her first race in April 2010, the 8-kilometer Wild Woman Race in Frederick, Md.

"After that 8K race, I was hooked and wanted more," she said.

In October 2010, Martin signed up for her first half marathon in Baltimore. 

"I finished the Baltimore half marathon in 2 hours and 14 minutes. In 2011, I won a 5K and a 10K, and in 2012 I won two 5K races," she said.

Martin said her weight loss didn't happen over night.

"It is a gradual process," she said. "When you are obese, you can't suddenly stop eating large portions and start eating like a bird. It is a slow process, but well worth it."

Martin admits that motivation was often hard to find.

"I gave up smoking and decided to give that money to charity so my motivation was signing up for marathons. When I had signed up and paid towards that specific charity or race, I wouldn't back out," she said.

And this time she was finding money in her budget to afford her gym membership.

"The question for me was do I spend $100 on medications because my health is bad due to over-eating, or do I invest in a $20 gym membership and change my life?" she said. "For some people it is more difficult. There are hereditary factors and medical problems. My family are mostly obese and I proved that you can fight it, if you try."

For Martin, the blood, sweat and tears have all been worth it.


"I feel better now and I am in better shape than I was when I was 18 years old," she said. "Previously I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without getting out of breath. My self-esteem was low I was depressed, and that is no fun. I am more outgoing now I have more confidence."

Sometimes people don't even recognize her since she's lost weight.

"At my lowest weight, I was 120 pounds. At that time I did no weight training," she said. "People who have not seen me for a long time have mixed reactions and some people don't even recognize me. It's funny at times."

Martin is now a certified body-pump instructor and personal trainer.

"I truly believe that I have and I will continue to inspire others. I am helping people to start their journey towards health and wellness. I want to pay it forward to others," she said.

Martin believes if she can do it, anyone can. Today, she weighs 133 pounds.

"Was my weight loss difficult? Yes, at times. What is easy? Heck, no. I always tell myself, you want it, you have to earn it. Remember, you can't just work out and eat what you want or visa versa," she said.

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