Lovel: My year-long triathlon transformation
December 2nd, 2011
08:54 AM ET

Lovel: My year-long triathlon transformation

It’s one year ago this week that I was reading the news on CNN.com and happened across the CNN FitNation Challenge.

The timing was great for me, because in a moment of insanity I had made an annual check-up appointment for the Monday morning after Thanksgiving. Surprise-surprise: my weight was up.

In an attempt to distract my kind doctor from that issue, I mentioned that I was entering a contest to do the NYC Triathlon, and I asked if she thought I was healthy enough to do it.

I have to hand it to her - if she rolled her eyes, it was so subtle that I didn’t notice it. She allowed that since I had recently completed two uneventful 5K races, I would probably be fine to do a triathlon (not that she really believed I would do it).

Now looking back on the last year, I realize what an incredible transformation this challenge has been.

BEFORE the CNN FitNation Challenge, I:

• Worked at a wonderful but completely sedentary job
• Ate chicken wings and drank a couple of beers at jazz night
• Got winded carrying my 2-year-old granddaughter across the room
• Regularly enjoyed red wine and white-cheddar-cheezies for dinner
• Avoided looking in mirrors, especially from behind
• Knew I needed a lifestyle change if I wanted to keep kayaking and planned to be around to see my granddaughter grow up

So I made my video, entered the 2011 FitNation Challenge and was selected to join the Six Pack! Amazing changes began to occur...

DURING TRAINING for the NYC Triathlon, I:

• Swam, biked and ran before and after work, six days a week
• Often went to live jazz smelling like chlorine
• Started finding it easier to carry my granddaughter around
• Tossed out an old half-eaten box of white cheddar cheezies
• Became fluent in the language of road-biking, from gear and ratios to signals, cadence, and drafting
• Developed a whole new relationship with spandex
• Made many great new friends for life
• Received encouragement from HUNDREDS of people
• Shrank a couple of sizes
• Started looking in mirrors, especially from behind (my clothes weren’t fitting so well any more…)

Today, AFTER completing the CNN FitNation Challenge, I:

• Have completed another 5K and another triathlon
• Run 15-20 miles/week in training for a half marathon
• Still eat healthy-real food at jazz night (with a little red wine, thank you!)
• Help with a group of runners training for their first 5K in February
• Wish my granddaughter would still let me carry her around...
• LOVE sharing my experience through speaking engagements
• Still look in mirrors, to make sure these NEW SIZES are hanging right!

I hope that my year-in-review will inspire all 2012 hopefuls to pick up your cameras and send in your iReport videos. That one small decision led to a lifetime of change for me!

soundoff (10 Responses)


    December 2, 2011 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. NoDoubt

    Wow, this is great- and an inspiration for me also. I sometimes think the only way I am going to really get healthier is if I join a fitness challenge of some sort. Kudos to you for sticking it out!!!

    December 2, 2011 at 14:37 | Report abuse | Reply
    • CaitlinCNN

      Hey NoDoubt – if you're interested, you can do what Nina did! We're doing the Tri Challenge again next year and we'd love to have you apply. Submission videos need to uploaded to this link (it's also embedded in the story): http://ireport.cnn.com/topics/698509

      December 2, 2011 at 16:48 | Report abuse |
    • Lazaro

      Thanks , I've recently been lokiong for info about this subject for a long time and yours is the best I've discovered till now. But, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you positive about the source?

      October 13, 2012 at 22:25 | Report abuse |
  3. maura

    way to go! you should be so proud

    December 2, 2011 at 16:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Anthony NY

    great story, you are never too old to live a healthy lifstyle

    December 2, 2011 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Fran

    Wonderful and inspiring! Thank you for sharing your story.

    December 4, 2011 at 09:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. LaShondra Woodall

    I enjoyed that passage and agree that you can do anything you put your mind to.

    June 6, 2013 at 20:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Alyson Niemie


    January 15, 2021 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Gretta Dahlka


    January 21, 2021 at 00:57 | Report abuse | Reply

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.