The reality television era has become a celebration of our short attention spans — stars of these shows appear on our televisions for weeks, maybe months at a time. Some go onto become international superstars, while others — the majority, to be honest, fade back into oblivion.
Former reality show contestant Rebecca Meyer of Des Moines, Ia., is determined to forge a different path for herself. She’s used her own reality TV stint to change her entire lifestyle — and hopefully motivate others in the process.
Five years ago, 24 year-old Rebecca weighed over 300 pounds. This weekend, she’ll come to Philadelphia to run the Pennsylvania leg of her “50 in 50 by 30” challenge — her own personal mission to run 50 different races in 50 different states before she turns 30 on March 15 of next year.
During the 2009 calendar year, Rebecca dropped from 314 to 139 pounds. Best of all, she has maintained a great deal of that weight loss for the past four years.
Some of you may remember Rebecca from season 8 of “The Biggest Loser”, a show that challenges overweight or obese individuals to lose the most, or highest percentage of weight during the duration of the program. Rebecca reported to season 8 at 279 pounds, the result of years of inactivity.
“I’d struggled with my weight since I was about 10,” recalls Rebecca, “and I knew I wanted to do something about it. I just didn’t know how.”
Before recording a single episode, Rebecca had already dropped 35 pounds. While she was eliminated in week 10, she inspired viewers enough to win a $100,000 at-home prize.
That’s where the story ends for most TV contestants—but not Rebecca. “I remember someone asking me, ‘What’s next?’” she recalled. “I’d run the Des Moines half-marathon earlier that year, then I went to North Carolina and run another race with my boyfriend, who’d later become my husband (Daniel Wright, whom she’d met on The Biggest Loser.)
“I loved running—the thrill, the fear—so I decided I’d do a road race in all 50 states by the time I turned 30.”
As daunting as that challenge sounds, Rebecca admits that at age 25 she didn’t take it too seriously. “But I woke up one morning to an email from a friend asking “Are you serious about this? Because if you are, you’ve got to do 44 more races in a little over two years.”
“So many times in my life, I’d allowed myself to set lofty goals, only to shrink away from them,” she admits. “With this, I decided I was going to do this. No excuses. This wasn’t about weight loss anymore — it was about taking control of my life.”
Since that day, Rebecca’s hit the ground running. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon will be the 40th race on her journey — with events in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine to follow in the next month. She will also run the New York City Rock ‘n’ Roll 10K on October 12. Like most competitors, Rebecca is taking it one race at a time — but she’s too close to her ultimate goal to not allow herself a quick peek ahead. The ultimate goal was always to finish her journey in Hawaii — the 50th race in the 50th state — but there’s one little problem.
“As luck would have it, the race I wanted to do in Hawaii is March 16, 2014—the day AFTER my 30th birthday!” she says. “I need to come up with a backup plan for Hawaii.”
It’s the perfect summary to her journey—after a lifetime of excuses, Rebecca Meyer literally won’t wait one extra day to reach her goal.
To learn more about Rebecca, her story, and her plans for completing her “50 in 50 by 30” challenge, visit www.rebeccaameyer.com
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