After joining Minneapolis Moms on the Run last summer, Jennifer Leeson (Jenny, or "Frisky" to her derby friends) has transformed the way she thinks about food, her body and exercise. In the process, she has dropped 100 pounds and is training for marathon number 14 — the first since her early 20s.
"Jen is one of the friendliest, most positive people I've ever met," Minneapolis franchise owner Karissa, who nominated Jenny, shared. "I was so inspired by her outlook and determination the very first time I met her. I cannot even imagine Jen without a big smile on her face and just being around her would bring encouragement to anyone." As a busy emergency room nurse, wife and new mom, Jenny's story will leave you inspired. Read on for a fun Q & A.
Q: When did you join MOTR and which location?
A: I joined last summer, the Minneapolis Lake Harriet location.
Q: What (or who) enticed you to join?
A: My sister-in-law! I was afraid to join because I was afraid I’d be the most out of shape, but she assured me I would be fine and fit in, and she was right! I’m forever grateful for her push!
Q: Tell us a little about your story. (Take us through the timeline of your past marathons, weight gain, joining MOTR, weight loss, child somewhere in there?)
A: Back in my 20s I started running and lost quite a bit of weight. Over three or four years I ran 13 marathons and a bunch of other races. Then I decided to go through a bunch of life changes including a career change that involved working 60 hours a week while going to nursing school full time. Needless to say, running fell to the wayside and eating was not great, and stress went through the roof. I gained a ton. I got married, started working crazy hours as an ER nurse and taking care of everyone but myself. ER nurses are not well known for their healthy choices, especially on the night shift! In 2017 I had a daughter, at the ripe old age of 39. I looked at myself and realized that I was suffering from postpartum depression, and wanted to be running. Running always did so much to help me manage my depression in the past (in addition to therapy and medication). My sister in law suggested MOTR, so I joined! I also realized that my body was making it difficult to run, and was going to make it hard to keep up with my daughter. I knew I had spent my life struggling to have a healthy relationship with my body, food, and disordered eating. This was not something I wanted my daughter to see, or for her to ever hear her mom talking about “dieting”, “feeling fat”, or “bad food.” So I worked with my doctor to completely change how I look at food and exercise. Between the support of my doctor, therapy, MOTR, friends, and family, I am 100 pounds lighter and have the healthiest relationship with my body, food, and activity that I have ever had in my life. I’m learning to love vegetables right alongside my daughter! And we still enjoy our cookies together, too, because life is too short to cut out fun. She loves riding in the jogging stroller, which is great because she’s in for a lot of rides this spring as I train for Grandma’s Marathon!
Q: You are committed to running Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN, on June 22nd. What does this mean to you? What kinds of challenges are you facing?
A: Marathon 14 here I come! It’s part of my 40th birthday “year of shenanigans.” I want to show my daughter that women can do anything if they put their minds to it!
Q: What would you tell someone who is considering joining Moms on the Run?
A: Do it! You won’t be the slowest, most out of shape person there! You’re going to make amazing friends, and have the time of your life. Stop putting it off, and do something good for yourself for once!
Q: Tell us about family, work in or outside of home, hobbies, etc.
A: We have one 16-month-old daughter, four cats, and two dogs! Besides work, I keep busy with North Star Roller Derby as a Non-Skating Official in my fifth season. I’ve also recently taken up sewing a lot of my own clothing, and I love to knit. We are a book loving household and need a second house to keep all of our books and board games in!