From Couch to Competitor

How One Woman Lost Weight and Gained an Improved Sense of Self

Before undergoing bariatric surgery, Nikki Thompson, 28, would have to exert so much effort while working out, only to hit a wall. A longtime dancer, she wanted to try something different.

Thompson turned to running 5Ks as a way to get in shape. Beginning with a Couch to 5K program in the fall of 2013, her goal was “just to finish,” she says.

While running several 5Ks over the next year, she kept hitting the proverbial wall, either needing to walk or use her rescue inhaler for her exercise-induced asthma.  “When I would use my inhaler like crazy, I refused to walk. Although I ran 13-minute-mile at times, I was worried if I started walking that I would not start running again.”

Nikki, left, with her son and husband, in 2016Nikki Thompson with Dr. Brian Glucknikki headshot, in June 2017Nikki running at Veterans Memorial Park, June 2017Nikki Thompson in ready position, June 2017

Working for Mercy Health Muskegon as a certified surgical technologist with the bariatric team for the past four years, Thompson has witnessed the attention and support that Brian Gluck, MD, medical director of Bariatric Surgery for Mercy Health Muskegon, and the rest of the bariatric team provided for patients, and was inspired to take the next step. “After helping many patients, I thought, ‘Why am I not taking charge of my health as well?'” Thompson underwent a sleeve gastrectomy performed by Gluck on July 6, 2016.

Fast forward to today: Thompson has lost 85 pounds from her heaviest weight, and now cross trains and runs about 2.5 miles per day to train for the Mercy Health Seaway Run 2017 on June 24, 2017.

Thompson regularly runs 5k and 10k races now as a way to train for her first 15k portion of the Seaway Run.

“I don’t need to stop to walk. I don’t even need my inhaler!” Thompson remarked as she trains.

For Thompson, a healthier lifestyle is a family affair.  “I always told my kids, be healthy, make good choices, but it was a ‘do as I say, not as I do,’ scenario. Now I set a better example.”

Thompson’s mother is running the Seaway Run 5K portion with her 5-year-old son, who will be completing his fifth 5k race. He started participating with Thompson a week after he turned 4 years old.

“My kids definitely serve as my inspiration,” says the mother of two. “We talk often about eating healthy food to fuel our bodies, and we play hard to grow big and strong. I want the focus to be on being healthy, not on a certain size or weight.”

“There is so much more possibility for me now,” said Thompson. “I went from attempting to finish the race to placing – I now consider myself a competitor when it comes to running.”

After the Seaway Run, Thompson plans on competing in the Spartan Race Super Michigan in the fall of 2017, and she’s not stopping there. She has plans to complete a half marathon and triathlon in 2018.

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