Chris Maske would not have even considered running around Gray's Lake last year. But a trip to the hospital changed everything.
"Long story short, I had an infected tooth and the infection spread into the soft tissue into my throat and the body's natural reaction was to split my jaw shut," says Chris. "So, I had to have an emergency tracheotomy."
Chris was clearly in bad shape. Her blood pressure was so high doctors warned her she was dangerously close to having a stroke. You might say the experience scared her straight.
"I knew I could do better and I knew I deserved better for myself," says Chris.
The first step: An attitude adjustment. Chris started eliminating negative relationships and began chronically her life changing journey on YouTube.
The physical transformation began in December. She weighed 353 pounds.
"Initially, I had a lot of difficulty walking just from my front door to my car. I would get winded. I would get sweaty. So I started out slow."
She committed to dancing an hour a night with her Wii. She joined a Gym, the Phat Club in St. Charles, and started walking at the mall. Two months later, she started running.
"There were days I didn't want to get up. Back in February, when I started, I was up at 4:30 in the morning, running outside in the Iowa winter."
Her perseverance is paying off. Chris now has several five and ten kilometer races under her belt. The next goal: The Des Moines Half Marathon.
"I never thought I would be a runner. I never thought I would enjoy it so much I love the way my body feels when I do it. It's great!"
The exercise and changes to her diet have helped her lose 113 pounds in seven months. You can see the transformation in these before and after pictures. They're posted on her Facebook page under the headline, "The Incredible Shrinking Me."
This journey isn't over, but Chris is well on her way. She's turned one of the worst experiences of her life into one of the best and the scar from her tracheotomy is a constant reminder that change is possible and success is just a step away.
"Set your goals high and believe in yourself. Surround yourself with like-minded individuals who are going to be on 'Team You' and give you that positive support."