by Steffen Cook
“My body could not handle all that weight and I could not even walk for 5 minutes without getting tired.”

Elizabeth Rivera reflects on what was a very low point in her life, recalling times that she know views as pages in the book of her life that are better left turned to happier chapters.

“May 2013 marks my one-year anniversary since I had gastric bypass surgery. I decided several months ago to mark this milestone in my life by testing my limits running in the Spartan Sprint. I remember rolling around in the mud was one of my favorite things to do while I was in the Air Force.”

Elizabeth was honorably discharged from the Air Force for being unable to maintain weight standard. She didn’t know that Type 2 Diabetes was knocking on her door and was about to dictating a rather militant period in her life. She explains,

“I tried so many diets and various exercise programs, but nothing really seemed to have a lasting effect. My health just got worse and the complications from diabetes started to appear. I had several emergency surgeries because of diabetes, two cortisone shots in my left hip, and I had to take a high dose of pain meds twice a day because of a labral tear in my left hip. Not to mention a slight bulging disc and tear in my L5/S1 of my spine. These are just a few things I had to go through because of my weight and diabetes.”

Many different approaches to get the Diabetes under control were tried. Insulin of course eventually appeared, but the result of this was weight gain. Doctors explained how battling in removing the weight would help alleviate the problem, then eventually Elizabeth tried something else.

“My job changed health care plans and I decided to see if gastric bypass surgery was covered. To my surprise it was, but of course there were a list of criteria’s that had to be met. I went through the process required by my insurance and May 2, 2012 was the day I had gastric bypass surgery. At first I was not sure I made the right choice because it was not an easy recovery while in the hospital.”

Rivera talks about her recovery, “With each step I took, things got easier. Everything about my life changed and I no longer focused my life around food.”

Approximately six weeks after recovery, Elizabeth decided to join a gym and begin work with a personal trainer. As is normally the tale with these situations, at first, everything proved difficult and progress was slow. Not very long afterwards, strength began to appear and very quickly, she found herself stronger and fitter than ever before.

“It was my trainer who told me about the Spartan Race and how I should work toward that as a goal. I remember after a session there was an advertisement for the Spartan race flashing on a TV at the gym and I thought one day I would be a Spartan.”

The hard work in the gym was paying off and Elizabeth became a new person. Elizabeth 2.0! Fighting fit and ready for more, she came out of a battle thirsty for more challenge.

“My highest weight was 250 pounds and now I am 125 pounds since my surgery. At 5’ 2” tall no wonder I had so many issues with pain. My body could not handle all that weight and I could not even walk for 5 minutes without getting tired. Gastric bypass was a tool that helped me save my own life and it was the best decision I ever made for myself. I no longer take any medication for diabetes or pain and I believe I am in the best shape of my life for just turning 40. I can do things now that I have not been able to do in a very long time.”

No excuses, no blaming something else, no procrastination. Just out there getting the job done and gleefully accepting challenges that you can sink your teeth into. That’s the Spartan Race way and Elizabeth is now following that lifestyle and couldn’t be happier.

“I have done a few other challenges, but being able to do the Spartan Races is a major milestone. I plan on working toward gaining the Spartan Trifecta and motivating others to get off the couch and start moving. After surgery I could barely walk for 15 minutes and now I am playing in the mud. It takes starting with a few steps to work toward better health.”

See you at the finish line…

Find a Spartan Race near you.  Register today.

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