ORM presents the series of stories on OCR Transformations. Runners and athletes whose mind body, and spirit have been altered through obstacle racing.
July’s OCR Transformations features Jamie Lesk. Battling her body image led her down a grueling path which resulted in intense calorie counting and extreme cardio sessions. Allowing herself to slip from the grasp of what she “thought” was pretty and becoming healthy has added the fuel she needed to become something she didn’t think was possible…strong!
HIKING, BIKING, AND GAMING?
Jamie grew up as an only child whose parents loved the outdoors. A lot of her childhood was spent hiking, biking, swimming, horseback riding, rock climbing, and doing whatever she could to just stay outside. Oddly enough, her parents were also really into video gaming too. Most nights and days with bad weather resulted in many hours in front of the television playing games. Although Jamie and her family were fairly active, she still could work off all the food she ate. Her parents always made home cooked meals and made sure that the meals they ate were well rounded. However, having two working parents…Jamie often found herself at her grandmother’s house.
Her grandmother was a small woman with a very petite body type. As her grandmother got older, her doctors recommended that she gain weight by consuming a high fat diet. Jamie always wondered why her grandmother’s cooking was so tasty ☺. Her grandmother also made it mandatory on half days from school that they get McDonald’s. Not to mention all of the donuts, ice cream bars, and well-stocked candy drawer that Jamie always had access to. Although she was slightly heavy set growing up, Jamie was sure to stay active throughout school. She participated in basketball in high school for four years and even though she wasn’t the best, Jamie loved the team atmosphere and the feeling of belonging. Jamie didn’t truly become aware of her weight until she could no longer stand the person staring back at her in her reflection.
A break up is what motivated Jamie to stop being lazy and get back in the gym. She had more time on her hands and she wanted to devote that extra time to herself. She wanted to be healthier and happier, which in her mind ultimately meant she had to be skinnier. Jamie was a junior in college and living in her own apartment, which allowed her to buy healthier foods and create a better work out regiment consisting of cardio circuits during the week. Her new “lifestyle” consisted of low calorie and fat free options. However, she would get away from it by visiting home for the weekends.
As the weight started to come off, Jamie realized the obvious—eat less and be more active to lose weight faster. She had always been the “fat friend” and was looking forward to the day when she no longer had to be the token heavyset person in the group photos. She started spending more time in the gym and even more time counting calories and avoiding food. Slowly and methodically, Jamie would cut various foods and food groups until she was left with almost nothing (a crazy low 200 calories per meal average). Before long she was barely eating 400-600 calories a day and doing excessive amounts of cardio for hours on end. She had dropped from a starting weight of around 250 pounds to her lowest at about 120 pounds. From her extreme diet restrictions, Jamie had developed anorexia and in turn…was killing her body. She had moments when she would lay in bed and feel her heart stop beating. She was always cold, her hair started falling out, she felt dizzy and disoriented more times than not, and she lived in a chaotic haze of calories and exercise.
In her mind, Jamie needed to lose more weight. She looked terrible and felt even worse, but it was never enough. 120 pounds of bone wasn’t low enough and anything over a few calories here or there was a failure that resulted in tears, manic exercise, and a handful of failed attempts of purging. After graduating a semester early, Jamie moved in with her boyfriend at the time. He has always been a great support for her and while living together she was able to “slip” from her obsessive eating habits. Occasional cheat meals became cheat days and then rolled in to cheat weeks. Before long she was binging in excess of what she was able to burn off. Jamie had become out of control completely and she knew something needed to change, but she had no idea how yet.
FINDING “FAMILY” IN OCR
Through an accidental stumbling upon Dana Linn Bailey, Jamie found Ella Kociuba on social media. She was instantly taken by her leopard hair and achievements in the bizarre world of obstacle course racing. She had heard of Spartan and Tough Mudder a few times, but had no clue what they really were. Jamie knew that it involved running, carrying large objects, and running through electrical wire…nothing she wanted to be a part of. However, as she began to follow Ella more and more she developed a curiosity that turned into desire to participate. In 2014, Jamie signed up for the Indianapolis Spartan Sprint. She was intrigued by the sport and wanted her chance at the mud.
Once she was registered, the realization of needing to be able to run distances of three to five miles while lifting heavy things kicked in. The Sprint was set for April and Jamie signed up and started training early November. She started training by using workouts she found on bodybuilding.com and the Couch-To-5K app. She could have sworn she had given herself enough time to train, but April snuck up quick. Before she knew it, Jamie was making the five-hour drive at 1:00 in the morning to see if she had what it took to be a Spartan.
Although she drove to the race alone, she sure didn’t feel alone shortly after arrival. She quickly discovered the inclusive world of OCR and instantly felt like she was a part of the “family” as she waited for her starting wave. Ironically, Jamie made a friend with the person who was parked next to her at her first race and now they are close friends. After an amazing first experience, Jamie fell in love with the family like atmosphere and signed up for the Chicago Super and Vermont Beast later that year.
After participating in the Mud, Guts, and Glory event that same year Jamie was introduced to the OCR team the Crazy Mudder Muckers. She was quickly welcomed into the group with open arms where she has met some of her closest friends to date. Forming such close friendships in the OCR community is what has helped push Jamie to be better and run more. She stays in touch with people she meets at events and uses social media such as Facebook to communicate often. Jamie’s 2015 season has led her to run her first (of several) Ultra Marathons, multiple OCRs, a return to OCRWC, registration for World’s Toughest Mudder in November, and an introduction into the world of Tough Mudder.
CURRENT WORKOUT PLAN
Currently, Jamie’s training schedule is pretty basic. She runs every other day (or everyday when she is running lower milage for the day). She also alternates with weight training on her days off of running. Her running schedule is split between mid-distance (below ten miles), long distance (10+ miles), sprints, and hill intervals. Her job requires her to be on her feet a lot lifting heavy items weighing between five pounds to 150 pounds.
Jamie’s journey began at about 250 pounds at 5’10” followed by dropping down to a whopping 120 pounds. She currently weighs in at about 200 pounds and her focus has been about properly fueling her body. Her ideal goal weight is 178-180 pounds, but she is making the proper adjustments slowly due to her rocky relationship with food. Discovering her love for obstacle course racing has helped push Jamie to her happier and healthier life she lives today. The feeling of family and inclusion adds fuel to her active lifestyle!