As Shandi Wrench’s life spiraled out of control so did her weight. Wrench added more than 350 pounds to her 5’8″ frame.
Food was her comfort.
“I don’t know exactly how much I weighed. My scale only went to 330 pounds and I know I weighed at least 20 more pounds than the scales could register,” she said.
At 31 and 160 pounds, Wrench said she is smaller today than when she was in elementary school.
Wrench’s grief – and battle with weight – started at an early age.
When she was nine, her father died leaving an emotional void in her life. To help ease her grief, Wrench’s mother gave her whatever she wanted – including food.
The family moved from Chetopa to Russel where Shandie found school to be a nightmare.
“Kids are so cruel. When the teachers weren’t around my classmates called me Shamu (the whale.) I wish they knew how hurtful that was,” Wrench said.
By the time Wrench was 12 her stepfather had died and once again food was used to help ease the pain.
“When I was 12, I weighed 212 pounds. My mom finally decided to put me on a diet, but I lost only 10 pounds and then began to gain even more weight back,” she said.
The family returned to Chetopa in 2003. In 2004 Wrench married.
Her weight continued to balloon and during her pregnancy she reached 295 pounds. Her daughter, Abiannia, was born in 2005.
The first five months of her daughter’s life was spent in and out of hospitals. Abiannia had been born with a heart defect which had required surgery and the only person who could hold her without her crying was her mother.
“I sat for hours holding Abby, and when I wasn’t holding her I was eating,” she said.
In 2006, tragedy again struck when Wrench’s husband died.
More eating ensued until Wrench found the excess weight was keeping her from playing with her daughter.
“If I tried to run across the yard with Abby I couldn’t breathe,” she said.
Wrench found her new work schedule of working nights and caring for her daughter during the day resulted in her eating less and she began to lose weight.
By 2009 she was down to 240 pounds and living in Iola. She and her daughter moved here for an employment opportunity, she said.
“What really started my weight loss was the 2010 Charley Melvin Mad Bomber Run For Your Life. I thought I can do this run,” she said.
Wrench began watching what she ate adding more fruits and vegetables and cutting out all her snacking. She went to the track to run and now can run 13 miles without a break.
Her biggest nemesis was Pepsi, she said, “I would drink at least a 12-pack a day.” Today she drinks at least two gallons of water a day.
“Last year I ran the Mad Bomber Run in a little over 30 minutes. This year I hope to do it in 27 minutes,” she said.
WRENCH EXERCISES five to six days a week. She runs for cardio and goes to the gym for strength training.
“I like to listen to my music and meditate while I exercise. I’m not there for a social life. I’m there to get healthy,” she said.
Every now and then she will give into a craving – she especially likes Chinese food – but dutifully goes to the gym the next day to work off the extra calories.
“I give myself rewards for reaching my goals, but it’s not with food. When I got serious about running I bought myself a good pair of running shoes. The same was true when I was 180 pounds. I told myself when I reached 160 I would buy myself a pair of designer jeans,” she said.
Wrench said she is much happier and confident today and is able to keep up with Abby.
Her next goal in life is to do the Iron Man Run in Hawaii.
“I know I can run and swim but it’s the bicycling that I have to work on,” she said.
Anyone can lose weight, she said, but it has to be for you and you have to be dedicated for the weight to come off.