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Women Who Move: Cherie Hart Steffen

CHERIE HART STEFFEN
AGE: 35
MEBANE, N.C.
PERSONAL TRAINER

On my first day of graduate school, a teacher referred to me as “Precious” in front of the entire class. This was when the movie of the same name was in theaters. I was more than embarrassed—I was humiliated.

At that point, I had been overweight my entire life. Normally, after such an interaction, I would go home, cry and comfort myself with food. But on that day, something clicked. I promised myself that I would never let anyone make me feel like that again.

That very afternoon, I walked 10 minutes on the treadmill—a big deal for me. As I walked more and ate less, the weight slowly began to come off. Then I transitioned to running and completely fell in love with the sport. Within two years, I lost 85 pounds and finished my first half marathon.

Running has not only changed my body, it’s changed my life. It’s inspired me to pursue a career in personal training and to start a fitness blog. I think that more women, especially black women, need to see that it’s possible to go from overweight to  t. You don’t need to be Jackie Joyner-Kersee or Lolo Jones—you can simply aspire to be your best and healthiest self.

My journey came full circle a few months ago when I dropped an orange  at the grocery store. It went rolling, and who picked it up but that same teacher who’d humiliated me that pivotal afternoon. “Wow, you look great,” he said. Part of me wanted to thank him for the motivation—but I’d never give him the satisfaction. I just nodded, smiled and went on my way.

MY BEST ADVICE: BE YOUR OWN RUNNER!

Don’t waste time comparing yourself to other runners. Personally, I’m a slower runner. The fastest mile I ever fi nished was 9:56 and I’m 100 percent okay with that. You don’t need to be speedy—you just have to get out there and try!