Albion woman loses 100-plus pounds with lifestyle change

Posted 2 June 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Sue Cook – Sheila Lemcke and her dog, Molly, go to the canal for a jog.

By Sue Cook, Staff Reporter

ALBION – In October 2010, Sheila Lemcke decided it was time to make a change in her life.

Her daughter Keira had been born in April that year and had been diagnosed with hypotonia, which is low muscle tone. Lemcke decided that caring for her child meant improving herself as well.

Lemcke started her journey at 228 pounds, her heaviest weight. She began Weight Watchers with a coworker and tracked all of her food intake.

“Even if it was just an M&M, I wrote it down just so I had an idea of what I was eating,” Lemcke said.

Working with her husband Kevin, she measured food out to always know exactly how much she was putting in her body.

“Through all of that, I actually didn’t cut anything out,” said Lemcke. “It’s just that it was all in moderation.”

“We worked through it and made up our own meals plans and just stuck to it,” said Kevin.

Provided photo – Sheila Lemcke in May 2010 holding her 1-month-old daughter, Keira.

After five months, Lemcke decided she was comfortable enough to stop tracking what she ate and still continued to lose weight. On August 25, 2012, she reached a 100-pound loss. Later, she lost another 14. She currently maintains her weight in the range of 114 to 118 pounds.

“Along with the change in my diet and stuff like that, I started doing Leslie Sansone At Home walking discs. She does walking videos and the beat of the music will send you for a mile or two miles. It really works all of the muscle groups. I started off just doing a mile. That was tough at times, but I kept going.”

When she reached the 5-mile walking videos, the program offered something called “boosted walking,” which is similar to running in place.

Lemcke commented, “I’m like, well this is interesting, I kind of like this. I laughed at myself because I always said that I will never be a runner. I will never run. Here I am doing this video saying I kind of like this.”

A week before the 2012 Strawberry Festival, Lemcke decided she wanted to be a runner after all. Her husband supported her fully and encouraged her to do it. Lemcke decided to run for Keira because of her hypotonia and Kevin because he is a brain-cancer survivor.

Lemcke called ahead for approval to bring her dog Molly, an American bulldog, since she is a frequent running companion. Together, they finished the 5-kilometer race in 31 minutes, 23 seconds.

Lemcke ran three more 5k races that year. In 2013, she finished eight more races including a 10k. That year she placed in the top 3 in six of those races. She finished the Strawberry Festival race that year as 1st-place woman in her age group. In April 2014, she ran her first half-marathon and finished in 1 hour, 59 minutes.

“It’s amazing,” her husband said. “She did a lot of hard work. It paid off. I’m very proud of her. She worked really hard.”

Provided photo – Lemcke completes her first half-marathon.

Her advice for anyone trying make a similar weight-loss journey is that it definitely has to be something you want to do for yourself.

“It was for my daughter because I knew I needed to change myself so that I could be here for her and be a strong role model for her. To show her that no matter what difficulties she was going to face, that it can be done,” she said.

“I guess I just want to tell people, that it can be done and to not get frustrated if the scale does go up a little bit, but is has to be something that you want to do for yourself. It really has to be something that you want to do in the long term,” she added.

Lemcke has been part of a group in the Run for God program at the Albion Free Methodist Church. The group starts 12 weeks before the Strawberry Festival. They begin easier with a walk-run program and work up to harder runs and faster times. The group offers devotionals, as well as running advice and tips.

“A lot of it comes from my faith in the Lord. In 2013, was my first time doing the Run for God program and I am doing it this year also,” Lemcke added. “I don’t think if I didn’t have my faith in the Lord and my husband that I would have gotten through it. It would have been so easy to just go back to my old eating habits.”

Lemcke has been training for this year’s Strawberry Festival race as well, but thinks her time will be slower because of training for the half-marathon. She was training for the endurance of a long run instead of speed.

To run (or walk) in the Strawberry Festival on June 14, check the race website by clicking here.