Weight loss journey leads to Disney marathon
From weighing more than 300 pounds to losing 129 pounds was no small task for Ashley Cooke.
"It's been something that I've struggled on and off with my entire life. I've tried every fad diet regiment online, coaches, different types of programs," Cooke said.
But nothing worked. Ashley said the only thing that stuck was making a commitment to a healthy lifestyle, taking it one day at a time and being inspired by her 15-year-old son.
Gavin was diagnosed with autism when he was 10.
"Just his commitment and how he pushed forward through everything helped me realize what I was capable of doing if I set my mind to it," Cooke said.
So when her employer, Cigna, offered an opportunity to participate in the Disney Half Marathon, Cooke thought what did she have to lose, not really thinking she would be chosen, but she was.
"Eighteen months ago, I was just starting and had those self-doubts," Cooke said. "I couldn't run two minutes let alone 13 miles."
Cooke said with a family history of diabetes and hypertension, she had to take control of her health, but getting started was the hardest part.
"It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life, walking into a gym not knowing how to use the equipment, not knowing anyone there, not knowing if I am doing it properly or correct," Cooke added.
But Ashley didn't get up. She said the key was taking small steps.
"Don't look at the large goal," Cooke said. "Set small goals. Set a small goal of 10 pounds."
And then reward yourself. Ashley is looking forward to crossing that finish line, conquering her fears, accomplishing her goals and hopefully inspiring others who are facing that same challenge.
"You want to be the best that you can be, but also I found that with that, I want to help inspire others and show others anything is possible if you commit to yourself," Cooke said.
While Ashley is excited about representing her company and accomplishing this goal, she still wants to lose 20 more pounds.