Name: Yvette Donde
Occupation: Medical and Social Services Interpreter
Hometown: Tacoma, Washington
Start Weight: 386 pounds
End Weight: 220 pounds
Time Running: 3 years
They say the grass is greener on the other side. That’s what drew me to the U.S. when I moved with my now-ex fiancé from Mexico City to Tacoma, Washington. I didn’t know anything about the place; my fiancé and I were naïve and young, making the decision to come with nothing to the Pacific Northwest. He ended up going back to Mexico, while I stayed.
By 2015, I homeless without many connections. All I worried about was finding a job and eating what I could, which was mostly fast food because it was all I could afford. Thankfully, I found work and stable housing later that year.
At the time, I was 389 pounds, a size 28, and a 3XL. I noticed that walking a block was becoming difficult, and it was almost impossible to find clothes my size. I smoked a pack a day. This needed to change.
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Then, my parents scheduled a family trip to Machu Picchu. I was so afraid I wouldn’t be able to hike, so I started hiking in the Pacific Northwest to get in better shape. A mile was extremely tough for me, but I had friends who pushed me every weekend to go with them. After losing 15 pounds, I was able to enjoy that trip to Machu Picchu more than if I had done nothing.
When I returned, my friends and I decided to do a Color Run 5K together. My first though was that this would be insane, because I was out of shape. I was so pleased when everyone was very encouraging.
After that Color Run 5K, I fell in love with the running community. It was supportive without knowing me, even though I walked most, if not all, of these races I did early on. That spirit was amazing.
The first time I attempted to run, I told myself I would run continuously for 30 seconds. I think I got to 15 seconds, and was gasping and coughing after that. But I set a goal to be able to run for 30 seconds nonstop. Once I was able to do that, I went to a minute, then five minutes, then 10, a mile, two miles, and within a year, I ran—RAN—a 5K.
From there, I learned about other distances people raced. In 2016, I lost 150 pounds through running and changing my eating habits. So, I signed up for a 10K that year. At that race, there was also a half marathon option. Those people, I thought, were insane, so I had to try it. Then I did my first half and saw runners finishing twice what I had done. I had to see if I could do that.
Clearly, I was hooked on longer distances. I loved the training, the grind, the cries, and the process it takes to get to race day.
Running wasn’t the only thing that led me to lose 189 pounds in less than two years. Before I made these major changes in my life, I ate what my dad called a “see-food…