More than a third of my body was FAT. No joke. That’s what did it. That was the straw that broke this out-of-shape camel’s back.
I’ve been pregnant or nursing for six of the past ten years. I hit my forties. I got a new job last December.
As the new news anchor at Good Morning America, I went to Haiti after the devastating earthquakes. I interviewed a 14-year-old girl named Frangina who’d been trapped in the rubble for 5 days. She’d had a nail puncture her thigh, but it was healing nicely. I met her a week after she’d been pulled from the rubble, and she had yet to receive any medical attention. She complained of a headache. I gave her my ibuprophen.
Hers and the hundreds of other faces of the people I encountered in Haiti stayed with me for months. Mothers nursing in the open air camps; children dragging cars fashioned out of milk bottles….
As news of the earthquake was crowded out by the Gulf oil spill, I was assigned a story about normal weight obesity. The doctor measured my body fat and told me that despite my relatively “NORMAL” weight… my body fat percentage put me at risk for obesity related diseases.
So I embarked on a mission: train for a triathlon, raise money for Haiti and do it by the end of summer. I enlisted the help of Tom Holland, author of the The 12-Week Tri-athlete and Lucy Danziger, editor-in-chief of Self Magazine. I needed deadline pressure. September 11th in Danbury CT… ¼ mile swim. 12 miles bike. 3 mile run. Not crazy, I could do that. Right?
I signed up dozens of my friends and colleagues. UNICEF signed on to give team members their own homepage to get donations. It was the perfect recipe for success 1. a goal. 2. peer pressure and good company 3. the kids of Haiti.
I started out running 1 mile, huffing and puffing. Then 2 miles. Then THREEE. Biking was more fun. I had my “mommy bike” with my 2-year-old on the back. We looped around NYC’s central park. 6.2 miles. The Harlem hill is HARD with 25 pounds of baby on the back… I biked more and more comfortably. Despite weeks of my protesting, Lucy finally talked me into buying a “road bike”… she was right. I felt as though I’d sprouted wings and learned to fly on my new bike.
The swimming was the hardest to fit into my schedule, but I managed to use the YMCA pool near work.
And finally there it was.. RACE DAY. I tried to hold back my fear. We all did well, but it was my friend Caroline who inspired us all. She overcame her fear of swimming, got LOST on the bike leg… and when she got back to transition, Sean, the race director, who didn’t know that she’s of Haitian decent, but saw the steely determination in her eyes… ran the final leg with her. She raised 5 thousand dollars for Haiti!!!!
All told, we raised approximately 60k for Haiti and we got fit.
Juju Chang is the news anchor for ABC’s “Good Morning America” and an Emmy Award-winning correspondent for “20/20” and “Nightline.” She also hosts “Moms Get Real,” a digital show for ABC News NOW aimed at cracking the façade of perfect mommyhood.
Juju Chang will be speaking at The Women's Conference 2010. Watch the webcast of the Conference on October 25th and 26th here on www.womensconference.org