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Stories from the run commute: “I lost 100 pounds by running trails to work.”

The run home used to be tough to get through. Not only has he managed to lose 100 pounds, but Andre Lessard has also completed two Boston Marathons and is running his third this year.

Edmonton’s River Valley is an outdoorsy runner’s dream. When you think you’ve explored every path, there’s a new one and the views on the well-beaten trails are stunning no matter how many times you’ve seen them. Running there is a way to accumulate kilometres without ever getting bored– there’s just so much to see. When Andre Lessard runs there, he bounces along snow-covered paths and over wooden bridges. Regular views of the river and a wooded setting are enough to sway a lot of people to adopt the runner’s lifestyle. Such was the case for Lessard– that and the extra 100 pounds that he needed to shed.

When Lessard started getting active again, he weighed 250 pounds. Standing at 5″7, Lessard says that he was wearing 44-inch waist pants and shirts sized extra, extra large. “I decided that this wasn’t for me,” he says. “I was fairly athletic in high school and I wanted to get back to that.”

He started with in-line skating to or from work. That was having positive effects. Lessard says he started to see changes and was happy to be active again. When he needed a change up, he gave running a shot. That was five years ago. Run-commuting in particular was appealing because of its time-saving element and so that became a new goal for Lessard who works as a manager and brand ambassador for Sport Check located in the infamous West Edmonton Mall. “I still remember my first few runs and how out of breath I was, and the amount of breaks I needed to take, but I loved to push myself for my 10K commute,” he says.

Anyone else who has ever been tasked with losing a fair amount of weight knows level of dedication it takes. It’s a real test of willpower and staying on task. For Lessard, he had to learn about healthy foods as well as what healthy portion sizes looked like and how to adjust to those. Then there was staying on top of regular exercise. Each of these adjustments were lifestyle changes and ones which he describes as “incremental” on their own. Put them together though and he started to see changes. “I gradually started losing the weight, and started feeling better.  Not only physically, but mentally as well,” he says. “The journey was about self-discovery and about self-appreciation.”


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He now weighs 150 pounds, logs over 100 kilometres a week, holds a 2:50 marathon PB and is set to compete in his third Boston Marathon in April. For that, he wants a sub-three-hour race. Though he still struggles with his relationship with food, he has made terrific progress. “My fitness goals keep me in line,” says Lessard. “I found out what my limits are. Every time I think I reach them, I surprise myself by going a little farther and a little faster.”

It’s that little bit by little bit that is likely behind his success. He emphasizes this when talking about taking on a major weight loss goal like this. It was the smaller, short-term goals that make it achievable– not the overall target. “If I had started at 256 pounds with the goal of losing 100 pounds I probably would have given up,” he says.”The micro changes that occur every day can make your efforts feel for nothing.”

Now that he has achieved his initial goal of losing the weight, Lessard is continuing to take down the PBs but on a daily basis, he’s trying to encourage others to make use of the valley trails by populating his Instagram feed with shots from the run. The time-saving element that running home from work brings is also a draw– all her has to do is bring a backpack and the right gear so losing the weight and training for Boston comes with barely a time cost. And then there’s the beauty of the trail. “I love exploring.  Just when I think I’ve seen it all, a new trail will catch my eye and I’ll explore it.  There are a lot of hidden gems in the valley,” says Lessard.

See some of his best shots below:

Go the distance. #run

A photo posted by Andre Lessard (@body.inmotion) on

Nothing can stop you. #run

A photo posted by Andre Lessard (@body.inmotion) on

The world is yours to #run

A photo posted by Andre Lessard (@body.inmotion) on

Get lost so you can find yourself. #run

A photo posted by Andre Lessard (@body.inmotion) on