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Published October 04, 2010, 12:00 AM

Woman’s next goal: run in half marathon

Three years ago, Tracy Bergsholm could barely run 10 yards at a time. This weekend, she’ll shoot for 13.1 miles.

Three years ago, Tracy Bergsholm could barely run 10 yards at a time.

This weekend, she’ll shoot for 13.1 miles.

Bergsholm said she doesn’t care how long it takes her to finish Saturday’s FM Mini Marathon – just being able to run the race is a milestone for the 30-year-old Fargo woman.

In 2007, she weighed an estimated 365 pounds. She says “estimated” because she couldn’t find a scale big enough to weigh her.

Then, one day, her younger brother, Curtis, confronted her and their mother in their living room in Cadott, Wis.

Curtis Bergsholm, a personal trainer, says he didn’t care about his 27-year-old sister’s appearance. He was worried about what was happening underneath her skin.

“I just had a big heart-to-heart talk with them and pretty much said, ‘I want you to be around,’ ” he recalled last week. “I think Tracy, she was pretty much heading down a path that, who knows how long she would have made it?”

Tracy Bergsholm agreed to start going to the gym with her brother, and she has rarely slowed down since, dropping more than 170 pounds in three years.

It wasn’t easy, and she prides herself on having done it the old-fashioned way: exercise and eating right. She created a website, www.28to8.com – a reference to her starting pants size and her goal size – to encourage others and provide tips on avoiding the pitfalls of weight loss.

It wasn’t the first weight-loss try for Bergsholm. She once lost 80 pounds “the wrong way” – by eating only twice a day and doing the same workout routine for three hours a day.

This time around, she changed not only how often she ate but also what she ate. She started consuming five smaller meals a day to boost her metabolism, focusing on vegetables, fruits and protein, and cut out fast food completely.

“I haven’t eaten McDonald’s or anything like that since I started,” said Bergsholm, who moved to Fargo in August 2009 and now works for Fargo Public Works.

For motivation, she’d lay the next-smaller size of pants on her dresser. She started losing a pants size per month.

“I hit a lot of thrift stores,” she said, laughing.

Psychologically, a key to the weight loss was repeatedly telling herself that she loved to exercise.

“Pretty soon, you start to believe it,” she said.

Also important, she said, were goals. She decided to train for the Fargo Marathon in May, but scaled back to the half marathon.

Then, a few weeks before the race, she broke her foot in an accident.

“That was devastating. I was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ ” she said.

Unable to run, she stayed in shape by working on her upper body and riding a stationary bicycle. She got the all-clear to start running again about 10 weeks ago and set her sights on the FM Mini Marathon.

Her mother and fiancé will be there Saturday, along with her brother, who lives in Minneapolis and runs a senior fitness company.

“We’re all proud of her,” Curtis Bergsholm said. “Three years ago, we would have never thought this was possible. She definitely proved us wrong.”

Tracy Bergsholm still hopes to run a full marathon someday and to fit into a size 8 by her June 4 wedding date.

She said the most satisfying thing about her weight loss is the liberation. The woman who at one time couldn’t fit on amusement park rides and had to fake buckling up on a jet because the seat belt wasn’t long enough has since learned the joys of skydiving, parasailing – even clothes shopping.

“I wouldn’t admit it back then, but I was very, very depressed,” she said. “Now, everything’s an opportunity.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528