Real Nurse Health Makeover: Brenda Murdough
Brenda Murdough, a PACU nurse at Duke University Hospital, ran her first marathon at the age of 58. and lost 38 lbs in 10 months. Learn about her weight loss journey in this blog.The Wake-Up Call
My running journey began twenty years ago when I was 38 years old. My mother had a heart attack at the age of 59. At the time, I was 40 pounds overweight after having my two kids. I was a busy nurse juggling my roles as a mom, daughter, and wife. I was a typical health care worker, caring for everyone but myself.
My mother’s heart attack was my wake-up call. With two young children, I realized I needed to make my health a priority. I had tried losing weight before, but this time it wasn’t about my weight. It was about the long term.
I bought a treadmill with the goal of getting in shape by my birthday. When I stepped on it for the first time, I walked a half-mile at the slow rate of three miles per hour. I didn’t think I was that out of shape — I was a bedside nurse caring for patients every day. However, my chest and calves hurt immediately and I couldn’t catch my breath. I thought to myself, “This is not good.”
I got on the treadmill again the next day and slowly walked another half-mile. I walked that same distance each day, and little by little, it got easier. Eventually, I worked my way up to walking a mile, and then two. When I walked two miles, I decided to try jogging for one minute and then walking the next. Once I was able to maintain that for two miles, it was time to run my first 5K, which is 3.1 miles.
The First 5K
I came in second to last in my first race, but I discovered that the running community is extremely supportive. When I looked around, I saw people of all ages, sizes, and abilities running beside me. When I approached the finish line, there were people waiting there, cheering and saying, “C’mon Brenda, you can do this!” They motivated me to keep going and finish strong.
Weight Loss Followed
I was proud of myself for completing the 5K, so I wanted to keep improving. I signed up for a strength training class that also incorporated some stretching and yoga. As I became stronger physically, I felt mentally stronger as well and more committed to this new lifestyle. I focused my meals and snacks around fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. The healthier food choices I made combined with the exercise helped me lose the weight. I only weighed myself once a month because the way I felt was more important than the number on the scale. Over the course of ten months, I lost 38 pounds.
A New Challenge
I continued running and worked my way up to completing a 10K (6.2 miles). When I learned about a half-marathon that was in memory of my children’s former classmate who died of cancer, I knew I had to do it. When I finished that race, the sense of accomplishment I felt was overwhelming.
Eventually, my 34-year-old daughter and I started running races together. She and I were planning to visit my son and his wife in Hawaii in a year’s time and we discovered there was a Honolulu marathon. We decided to plan the trip around that event and my son said he’d join in the race as well. One of my daughter’s friends signed up for the race and some of our relatives flew to Hawaii to cheer for us too.
I used a Runner’s World training program and my motivation was unwavering because this was the opportunity of a lifetime. I was going to run my first marathon in a beautiful setting with both of my children.
We had to be there at 3 a.m., since the race started at 5 a.m. in order to beat the Hawaii heat. It was gorgeous, so I stopped to take pictures as I ran. The crowd was supportive and kept my energy up. There were definitely tough moments, but I kept telling myself, “You’re doing great, Brenda. You’re going to do this!”
My son and his friend were waiting for me at the finish line and I knew my daughter would be following behind me shortly. I crossed the finish line with a huge smile on my face.
Marathon training is a metaphor for life. There are ups and downs, challenges and injuries, but you find your own ways to become healthier, stronger, and more dedicated to doing your best.
- Have a mantra: I remind myself that “success breeds success.” Each good habit I create or goal I meet moves me forward.
- Make it personal: Sign up for a race that means something to you for extra motivation. Many road races support causes. I like to run to raise money and awareness for autism, veterans, heart disease, and cancer because they have personal meaning for me.
- Know what works for you: Some people love to train with a buddy and that’s great. I like to run on my own, because that’s my “me” time. I’ve been running with my dog lately, which has been fun.
What healthy goal do you want to accomplish? Make a commitment to your goal on our commitment wall. Are you a nurse with an inspiring story? Tell us about your story or that of a nurse you know. Click reply in our weight loss journey discussion or post in our private Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™ Facebook group. Tag us and them with #HealthyNurse.
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