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Published April 07, 2014, 12:11 AM

Holt: Moorhead woman finds passion for running

MOORHEAD - As a senior at Minnesota State University Moorhead, Leslie Wood was taking 21 credits and working two jobs. She didn’t have time to take care of herself.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

MOORHEAD - As a senior at Minnesota State University Moorhead, Leslie Wood was taking 21 credits and working two jobs. She didn’t have time to take care of herself.

“Once I graduated (in 2012), I realized I needed to take a step back and focus on improving my overall health,” the 23-year-old Moorhead woman says.

That summer, Leslie ditched her college habits, started following a 1,200-calorie diet, and did a half-hour to an hour of cardio every other day. From there, she kept progressing, all the way to her first marathon in May 2013.

“I had no intention of doing marathon training, but after a certain point, you realize you want to accomplish that goal,” she says.

Leslie, who grew up in Arizona, Leeds, N.D., and then Moorhead, says she’s always been a runner, but it wasn’t until she had to be her own coach that she really tapped into her competitive nature.

After running her first full marathon, the Fargo Marathon, she started training to improve her time. She cut a half-hour off her time her second marathon, the Bemidji Blue Ox Marathon this past fall. She’ll run her third next month in the 2014 Fargo Marathon.

“For me, it’s an event. It’s the process. People want to be a part of that, with you (even if they’re not running with you),” she says. “Fargo has an awesome cheering crowd.”

Leslie doesn’t plan to stop at the Fargo Marathon, though. She’s got her eyes on the Boston Marathon.

She stays on track by following a training plan she keeps in her phone and by sharing her goals with others for accountability.

“If I’m telling people, ‘This is the time I’m going to get for this marathon,’ I’m going to try my hardest to get it,” she says.

Since she started racking up the miles, she lost 40 pounds and increased her muscle mass, endurance and flexibility. She’s increased her caloric intake to match her activity level.

“It’s a balance between protein and carbs, and you have to indulge every so often because you’ll drive yourself nuts otherwise,” she says.

Leslie, a marketing assistant and graphic designer for a Fargo-based architecture and engineering firm, uses her passion for health and fitness to help others reach their wellness goals by promoting workplace programs and initiatives like group walking breaks.

“We live pretty much a sedentary life based on the work that we do. Now we can kind of facilitate an environment that promotes health and wellness,” she says.

It’s also boosted her confidence, which helps her perform her duties as the Social Committee chair for the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber’s Young Professionals Network.

“Now I really enjoy just meeting new people and interacting with them, and I’m not worried about my size anymore,” she says.

Do you have a weight-loss story to tell? Email me at mholt@forumcomm.com.

Forum reporter Meredith Holt lost over 100 pounds between 2010 and 2012. She will share stories of her weight-loss journey in her column, which runs the first and third Monday of each month in Variety. Readers can reach her at (701) 241-5590.