Valerie DeVelevis has discovered the love of running on her weight loss journey. (Photo submitted)
Valerie DeVelevis has discovered the love of running on her weight loss journey. (Photo submitted)
DELPHOS — During the summer of 2018, Valerie DeVelvis wasn’t feeling her best. She was enjoying her well-deserved summer break after teaching at Wayne Trace Jr./Sr. High School, but she knew something wasn’t right.

“I was feeling bad. I was exhausted and felt like I had the flu. I knew I had to take action, so I went to the doctor to be evaluated,” DeVelvis said.

Admittedly overweight, the stress of her teaching position, a mother of four young children and an active family life, DeVelvis got the news after a series of routine tests.

“The day I went to the doctor my blood pressure was 180/120 so, obviously I had BP issues and my doctor was concerned about my sodium intake. When I heard those words I went into overdrive on that,” she said.

DeVelvis, an educator for 13 years serving as an intervention specialist, did exactly what she encourages her students to do when it comes to searching for answers and learning new things — research and figuring it out.

“I did my research and learned all I could about sodium. I discovered that sodium is in everything we eat so I had to make some adjustments and change my eating habits. I found an app that worked for me and would keep me accountable. I knew my limits and the app was a good resource to keep me focused and aware of what I could have when it came to sodium,” DeVelvis said.

With a few changes in diet and keeping the sodium in check, DeVelvis lost 10 pounds quickly. With positive results concerning weight loss and the need to eat in a more healthy manner, she developed her own healthy-living diet.

“I just started eating better, making better choices and seeing good results, but I wanted to do more, so I started exercising — mostly walking. The day came when I got serious about walking on the treadmill and as my vigorous walking habits increased, I lost more weight and started feeling better,” said DeVelvis.

However, even with the good results DeVelvis still experienced her own battles. There were days she wanted to eat the sweets or something she really enjoyed and her emotions would get the best of her and she would breakdown. It was those times when she would lean on her husband, Shawn, who she used as her sounding board and would cry out to him about her battle to continue. Shawn would listen and give encouragement she needed and would help bring her back to where she needed to be emotionally.

On the treadmill for 20 minutes to start, DeVelvis admits she didn’t like it. It was awful and she sweat a lot and felt horrible to the point she thought she was going to die. But soon the 20 minutes turned into 30 minutes and with the increase in time came the increase in speed.

“Once I got in a routine of walking on the treadmill daily I became very strict with everything I was doing. I stayed with the low sodium diet and was exercising seven days a week. It was all going great, but another obstacle was standing in the way,” said DeVelvis.

The obstacle would be the upcoming holidays — Thanksgiving and Christmas. Her challenge to eating healthy was going to be difficult, but DeVelvis had sacrificed so much and had worked so hard the previous few months that she would not fall into the trap of going back to the way it used to be.

“I was very much focused with what I was doing and when Thanksgiving rolled around I did celebrate and cheated a little and ate a little unhealthy, but just for that one day. The next day I was back on the treadmill and my low-sodium diet,” commented DeVelvis.

Quickly Christmas arrived and in the first six months Valerie had lost nearly 60 pounds while gaining none throughout the holiday season. For her it was a victory. To help her continue her quest for a more healthy lifestyle she received a Fitbit for Christmas to help reach her health goals.

“I survived the holidays and was ready to ring in the new year with a sense of accomplishment, but I hadn’t totally completed what I had set out to do,” DeVelvis said.

With the 2018 calendar turned over to 2019, the cold winter months allowed DeVelvis to ponder all she had done. Feeling like her nutrition was in check she decided it was time to ramp up her exercise. She continued to walk the treadmill faster and longer until March when the thought of running came to mind.

“I wasn’t even sure I could run but I wanted to try so I set my goal at five minutes running on the treadmill. The five minutes quickly turned to 10 and it just kept increasing. I did this running on the treadmill in the house because I didn’t want anyone to see me running,” DeVelvis said.

As the weather started to warm up and spring was in the air, DeVelvis finally met one of her challenges head-on. She ventured outside and ran in Resurrection Cemetery in hopes that she would not be seen. Winning the challenge to be outside she found herself running more outside and less on the treadmill.

In mid summer DeVelvis was running three miles a day. One day while on one of her daily jaunts, she saw a sign in a resident’s yard advertising the Delphos Canal Days 5K and after reading it, she didn’t hesitate in making her decision to run in it. As she thought about it, she realized it was one of those bucket-list items that she wanted to be able to strike off her list.

Develvis signed up to run the 5K and even convinced her sister, Cory Werts, to join her. One of the reasons she wanted Cory to run with her was in case she failed miserably she would have her sister with her to help soothe the bad choice she made.

As it turned out, it wasn’t a bad choice at all. Running in her first 5K was more than she ever expected. Valerie finished first in her age group with a time of 30:16. Now that she had her first experience of competition in running a 5K she was ready for her next challenge.

“My mom, Anne Maas, used to be a runner and she saw this ad for the Heart Collective Charity 5K in Fort Jennings. Well, after running my first 5K I was really excited to run another, so I didn’t hesitate and I signed up but the only difference was not running with my sister who had other obligations that day,” DeVelvis said.

When the results were tabulated Valerie finished second in her age group and seventh overall, but what she was really ecstatic about was her time. Knocking more than two minutes off her time she crossed the finish line at 28:07.

There are no 5K runs in the near future but another 5K later on is certainly not out of the question. Even though there were times she wanted to give up, she remained strong because she wanted to see results on the scales and it was those results that kept her going.

“There were difficult times during these past 16 months but the positive out-weigh the negative. My husband has been so helpful and it has been his support that encouraged me from the start,” DeVelvis said.

DeVelvis has lost over 90 pounds and continues to work out daily. She has gone from two blood pressure pills to one and hopes to go off of it soon. At one point, she admits to being addicted to food, but now she knows when she can splurge but she also knows her limits.

“With what I have experienced, I want to encourage others who think they can’t do it — they can. I never thought I could but I’m proof that after 16 months and a lot of hard work and discipline, it can be done. It will always be a mental game for me when it comes to losing weight and exercise but it’s a game I am winning and I love that feeling,” she concluded.

You could say it’s her new addiction.