Running for her life: One woman is inspiring others through her weight loss story

When faced with challenges people are left with two choices; roll over and quit or fight like hell.

Sonya Alexander of Fairfield is one of the inspiring few that chose to fight like hell. Alexander runs, not just a mile on the treadmill, but miles across the state.

“I went from being this completely unhealthy and unmotivated [person] to running every town in Connecticut,” she said.

Alexander started running after learning that her weight was causing a variety of health issues including sleep apnea, pre-diabetes and high blood pressure.

Sonya Alexander (before) chose to lose the weight after realizing her health was at risk.

“I knew I needed to make some drastic life changes. And I did,” she said. “I committed to changing everything about me because I didn’t want to end up having to take medication, I didn’t want to end up being diabetic and I didn’t want to end up having a stroke or a heart attack.”  

Alexander said the support of her loved one’s and the concerns for her health kept her motivated to keep running even when she faltered which led her lose

“It’s one day at a time, it’s one step at a time. It’s ok to stumble. On my journey I stumbled a lot but I got up and kept going.”

Alexander said she “took one step at a time” by walking loops around the Fairfield University campus, now she’s a member of Run 169, a group that competes in races in every town across the state.

Today she is 160 pounds lighter and is serving as an inspiration for others. Alexander was selected to be one of the ten members of the 2017 Aiello Inspiration Team that will be honored on Oct. 14 as part of the Eversource Hartford Marathon. The Eversource Hartford Marathon is the largest running event in the state and will also feature a half marathon, a kids race and the 26.2 relay in addition to the marathon and a Charity 5K. Alexander said she will be running in the Charity 5K.

“It was actually pretty shocking…it was an honor to be selected because it was based on a struggle I had gone through my entire life,” Alexander said.

Sonya Alexander lost 160 pounds by running and was named a member of the 2017 Aiello Inspiration Team.

To be selected for the Aiello Inspiration Team those on the team each have a story that resonates with others, Beth Shluger of the Hartford Marathon Foundation said.

“It was created to highlight and celebrate the many, many runners that are never going to win the race — that’s what they’re so inspiring for — they’re not the fastest runners but they have the most determination and serve as a real inspiration to people in the community,” Schluger said. “Their stories represent hundreds and hundreds of other runners that will be at the starting line.”

For this year’s team the ten members were selected based on their response to the “What’s Your It?” campaign. Schluger said the “It” is the thing that motivates people to run early in the morning or in all kinds of weather.

“Her story resonates with a lot of people. She was very unhealthy and she lost a tremendous amount of weight, she’s healthy now and she’s running and she loves it,” Schluger said. “No matter the hardship and the difficulties in life, you can do what these people have done and overcome them. You can reclaim that power and running can do that for you.”

Alexander said she’s amazed that others find her story inspiring and hopes her experience will inspire others to make a change.

“It is possible, just take it one day at a time,” she said.