From sedentary to 5K

From sedentary to 5K
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

By: Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

Proud member of the Live Right Now Advisory Board.

Keri Farrington with daughters Hope, left, and Sophie.

Growing up, Keri Farrington never liked physical activity.

"I'd always been kind of heavy," she recalls, describing herself as "just plain lazy."

By her late 20s, yoyo dieting and two pregnancies had left Keri weighing more than 230 pounds.

Then she decided it was time to change. She wanted to set a healthy example for her two daughters.

"I started walking," Keri says.

At first, a 10-minute walk would leave her winded. But gradually, she added more time, sometimes walking with a friend. Occasionally she joined colleagues at Roseway Hospital in Shelburne, N.S. -- where she works as a secretary -- for lunchtime walks as part of the Heart& Stroke Walkabout program.

Gradually Keri started walking a little farther. At home, she tried workout videos and used an elliptical machine she'd ordered from a TV shopping show. Slowly, the pounds started to come off.

More important, says Keri, "I started feeling so much better."

Now, 12 years later, Keri weighs about 90 pounds less than at her heaviest. She is a committed runner who's logged several 5K and 10K runs.

She makes a point of being active for 30 to 50 minutes five days a week, going home most days at lunchtime to run on her treadmill or do a workout video. If she misses a day, she makes it up on the weekend. Some days she adds evening runs with her older daughter, Hope, now 13, or a friend.

Along with making activity a habit, Keri has changed what her family eats. "I've chosen healthier foods and experimented with stuff I didn't like before. Now we eat more fish and salad, whole grain bread and brown rice."

Keri still lets herself indulge once a week or so in her guilty pleasure -- chips and Pepsi. She finds the small treat helps her keep on track and avoid bingeing.

So how did Keri turn around a lifetime of sedentary habits to live an active, healthy life? Here's her advice:

  • Start slowly and build up your stamina. "Don't think you have to do the big race first thing."
  • Don't put off activity -- even when it's the last thing you feel like doing. "If you can just get through the first few minutes, you end up finishing it and you feel so much better afterwards."
  • "Switch it up. If I run too many days, I tend to get bored with it." Keri

    likes to try different workout videos; a current favourite is Chalene Johnson's TurboFire.

  • Motivate yourself with goals like a 5K run.
  • Believe in yourself. "Running was always something that I thought I could never do. But when you want it bad enough, you do it."
  • Remember why you're doing it. Keri is proud that both Hope and her sister Sophie, 11, participate in sports and love being active.
  • Start choosing healthier foods. "That's what will give you the energy to power through your workouts."

For Keri, now 40, there's no going back to the old, sedentary days. "I can't imagine not having physical activity in some part of my day from now on."

A healthy lifestyle like Keri's can help you make health last. Take the first step today by assessing your risk at

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Submission Policy

Note: The CBC does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that CBC has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Please note that comments are moderated and published according to our submission guidelines.