A success story worth telling

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 25, 2011

By David Freeze
For the Salisbury Post
About 3 months ago, I met Elizabeth Chabala. She signed up for one of the Salisbury Rowan Runner’s Beginning Runner Classes. Elizabeth attended the class at First Reformed Church in Landis, and immediately I noticed that she was really trying hard. Elizabeth had a special story, but I had no idea during the first few weeks of the class. Her bubbly personality and genuine positive approach made it fun to run beside her. I noticed that she was taking the class seriously, never missing, always running farther and just a little faster than she did before. We talked as we ran together about her family. On one Tuesday night, one of her classmates told me that Elizabeth had lost more than 100 pounds. My curiosity took over, and I found out how this came about.
Elizabeth was not overweight as a kid, but she hated exercise. After getting married, Elizabeth starting gaining weight with each of four pregnancies, and it never came off. Over a 10 year period, the weight gain totaled 135 pounds. Elizabeth was diagnosed with sleep apnea and also as a pre-diabetic. Exhaustion was a part of every day, and only with a nap could she make it through the day. Elizabeth said “I felt miserable all the time and was a disappointment to my family. I tried many diets, but nothing worked. Gastric bypass surgery scared me. I really believed that I would be overweight for the rest of my life.”
Elizabeth’s mom died in 2005, and it was a devastating loss. Elizabeth found comfort in unhealthy food, the very thing that had killed her mother. Elizabeth realized that she didn’t want her own daughters to lose their own mother. Elizabeth said “I ate lots of terrible things, and never ate fruits and vegetables. Anywhere I went, it seemed like I was always the biggest person in the room. ” She began to avoid anyone with a camera, and seldom went out much. It became easier to stay home and comfort herself with food.
In January, Elizabeth attended a Weight Watchers meeting at the South Rowan YMCA. Her body mass index was 43, signifying that Elizabeth was considered morbidly obese. Realizing that she was sick of herself, and of her own body, Elizabeth felt like this might be her last shot. But after just one month attending classes, she had lost 20 pounds and thought that she might be able to gain control over her eating. Then a friend suggested Zumba. “I was afraid to try it, but I was immediately hooked. Because of my weight, I just couldn’t move as fast as the rest of the class. But each week I got better and it became part of my regular routine,” Elizabeth said. She started going to class twice a week with all four of her daughters. The weight continued to come off, Elizabeth said.
Finally, Elizabeth decided to challenge herself and she ran the China Grove Main Street Challenge 5K in June of last year. At that time, she had lost 56 pounds and she was soon hooked on running. The Beginning Runners Class followed and that is where I met her. She now has lots of energy, eats right and still attends Weight Watchers. She has combined running with Zumba for her exercise needs. Elizabeth will not only run the Bare Bones 5K on Saturday, but she will race it. She is a determined competitor now, as signified by her total weight loss of 115 pounds.
The 10th Annual Bare Bone 5K will take place at Knox Middle School on Saturday. The Bare Bones 5K started as a non-sponsored, low key event, simply intended to give back to the area runners and walkers who enter SRR’s events throughout the year. It has grown into a 200 person race under David Abernathy’s leadership. Abernathy was honored in 2010 as the Southeast Regional Race Director of the Year. His innovative ideas and sound fiscal management have produced successful events, but Abernathy raised the bar this year. First, he went with a higher quality dri-fit shirt. Then he challenged SRR Vice President Steve Clark to a race-off between the two of them. At times, the two have slung rather pointed jabs at each other. Abernathy actually pulled up beside Clark and another runner, telling Clark that he could run much faster if didn’t talk so much. Once and for all, they will settle their differences on pavement that includes the Greenway and Prescott Drive. Different this year also is that all proceeds will go to Relay for Life. Race director Abernathy said “Our board voted to give the proceeds in honor of those who have been touched by Breast Cancer. Relay for Life is certainly a worthy recipient of these funds. “
More details about the Bare Bones 5K at www.salisburyrowanrunners.org or at 704-310-6741.