What Inspires Me: Lashinda Demus’s Pre-Olympic Weight Loss
The London Olympics may be over, but I'm still inspired by Lashinda Demus, who won a silver medal in the 400 meter hurdles earlier this month.
Why is Demus especially inspiring? She lost 50 doggone pounds, dropping from 180 to 130, in pursuit of her Olympic dream.
How'd that happen? Demus was on track to hurdle in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. But in 2006, when she was ranked number one in the world for 400 meter hurdles, she learned she was pregnant. With twins. After Dontay and Duaine were born in June 2007, Demus's body was 50 pounds heavier.
I can imagine the thoughts whirling around in Demus's head: Is it feminine to develop the competitiveness needed for a number-one world ranking? Do I fear success? Do I really want to do better than my mom? Her mother, Yolanda Rich, was a world-class runner whose Olympic dreams were extinguished when the US boycotted the 1980 games. After Rich gave birth to Lashinda, she gave up running because she needed to spend all her time working and caring for her family.
Unlike her mom, money concerns didn't force Demus to give up sports after becoming a mother. Female athletes today receive much more financial support. But with less than 10 months to go before the Olympic track and field team trials—and still needing to nurse infant twins—Demus faced some serious obstacles. Still, she threw herself into training. She had dropped all 50 pounds by the 2008 Olympic team trials.
But it wasn't quite enough. "I was in first place coming off the last curve," she told NBC Olympics of the final race in the trials."One by one, everybody passed me."
Demus missed winning a berth on the 2008 Olympic team by .15 seconds. She told NBC she cried for a week after the team trials. But she didn't give up. Demus turned to the person who had helped her train from the very start, the person who was a world-class athlete herself. She turned to her mom, Yolanda Rich.
With Rich, a demanding but loving coach, behind her, Demus kept going. In 2010 she set a world record in the 400 meter hurdles. After the 2011 world championships in Daegu, she once again achieved the number one world ranking. This month, with 5-year-old twins in the stands yelling "Go mom, go!" she finally got her Olympic medal.
For all of us who want to lose weight, Demus's example offers three lessons: 1) It helps to have a goal; 2) It helps to have a loving coach and "teammates" with us on the journey; and 3) It helps to have a dream that's bigger than a number on a scale to encourage us to stick with it.
Go Lashinda, go! She says she did it in part so she could leave her kids a legacy. It's one that anyone who wants to lose weight can appreciate!
—Anne Bailey blogs for Fitbie and is on a journey to lose 100 pounds
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