From Mother of 12 To The Next BIG Life Change ‒ With Erin Henderson

KICK’N Hard Feature Story

Expert advice from Erin Henderson, USA’s mother of 12 aiming to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials

As someone who has successfully lost and kept off a large amount of weight, and as someone who has found a happier, healthier, and better version of myself through running, I have some very real advice for anyone who wants to change their life.

Do you want to lose weight? Get healthy? Get faster? Feel better? Be happier? Be successful at something?

For anyone who wants to chase after a dream or make any big, positive change in your life, I can tell you how.

I am not going to make bullet points or give you ten steps to success.

I am going to be honest with you and give it to you straight.

Are you ready for it?

Be willing to put in the hard work to go after your dreams Find the magic to make it happen inside of yourself.

The only way to make a change that lasts… the only way to lose weight… the only way to get faster at running… the only way to achieve something big (anything big)… is to work hard.

Anyone promising anything else is selling something, or missing the point.

We live in a society where hard work is often looked at as something bad and something to be avoided at all costs.

People decide they want something, then realize it will take a whole lot of work to get it, and then decide they don’t really want it that bad. People decide they are going to lose weight or start running or whatever, and work at it for a few days or a few weeks and then realize that it is HARD and that progress is slow, and they give up. They want a quick fix, they don’t want to have to work for what they want.

There is no easy way. There is no magic pill, magic shake, magic cleanse, magic diet, magic training plan, or magic anything else.

The magic is the hard work, dedication and heart you are willing to put in, day in and day out.

The magic is the time, not just a few days or a few weeks, but extended periods of time, you are willing to stay committed. The magic is what you are willing to invest in yourself, and how badly you want what you say you want.

The magic is hard work.


Four years ago I changed my life. Literally.

Four years ago a Wii Fit told me I was OBESE.

Four years ago I decided I was DONE being obese. I was done feeling sorry for myself. I was done feeling sad and insecure. I was done feeling fat and out of shape and unattractive. I was done feeling weak both mentally and physically. I was done being less than I could and should be. I was done putting myself at the bottom of my own priority list. I was done taking care of everyone but myself. I was done wasting the talents and dreams that my Heavenly Father gave me.

Four years ago I was 80lbs heavier and I had never run a mile.

I had no idea how much weight I would lose or that I was going to become a runner, never mind a marathoner. All I knew is that I was ready for a change, and ready to put in the work.

Every day I had to work hard to make good eating choices.

Every day I had to work hard to build new habits to replace years of old (bad) ones.

Every day I had to force myself out of bed early.

Every day I pushed myself through exercises that made me feel fat, out of shape, and very un-athletic.


Progress was slow, sometimes painfully slow. I averaged six pounds of weight loss a month. But I did not get discouraged. I did not give up.

I found that it felt good to work hard, and even the slow progress fueled my drive.

As the pounds came off and new habits formed, I found that along with the new habits I had new confidence, new strength, new outlooks, renewed happiness, renewed patience, and new dreams.

Now that I have dreamed the dream and set the goal to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials, I remind myself often that the magic is daily hard work.


It is the 22 milers on the treadmill when the roads are covered in ice.

It is the 10x800m repeats alone on a track in the dark before sunrise.

It is getting out of bed every morning while the rest of the house sleeps.

It is getting all my runs in ‒ no excuses.

It is not slacking on my core and strength work.

It is not letting negative/hurtful people or setbacks get me down.

It is consistent hard work, every single day.

Four years ago I truly could not run even a single mile at any pace.

Now a sub-3 hour marathon in 2013 is the (very realistic) plan, and a stepping stone to a bigger goal and dream.


I recently had to buy myself new jeans because none of mine fit. My new jeans are a size 0. Seriously. I keep looking at the tags in disbelief. Four years ago I wore a size 20. I don’t say this to brag in any way, but to show that hard work and commitment are worth it if you really want something.

Whatever your hope, goal, wish, dream, or plan may be, do yourself a favor and find the magic to make it happen inside of yourself.Embrace the hard work.

Believe in yourself and care about yourself enough to put in the hard work. Remember, it is supposed to be hard.

Be willing to put in the work to go after your dreams and to make your reality what you want it to be.

That is the secret.

That is the magic.


About Erin Henderson

Erin Henderson is a woman on an EPIC journey.

Married to her best friend, Josh Henderson; together they have 12 children.

The Henderson’s have seven sons and five daughters. They have three biological kids and kids adopted from the U.S.A., Vietnam, South Korea, and Ethiopia.

Erin started running in 2009 as a way to lose weight and fell in love with the sport. She is now a competitive marathoner who is training to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials.

She lives and trains in the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, and writes regularly on her blog, See Mom Run Far.

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  1. Jolene Cannady - February 1, 2013

    I absolutely love Erin. She is one of my biggest inspirations. I have never met her face to face, but hope to someday. Her and I both have stories that mirror each other and when I read this post I feel like I am reading something I would write. Except for the marathon trials, I will leave that dream to Erin.:) My big goal is Boston. Erin thank you for being an amazing person.

  2. Ann Quasman - January 29, 2013

    What an amazing and inspirational woman Erin is… this is one of those stories I need to re-read anytime I feel something is impossible.

  3. Georgina King - January 28, 2013

    A truly magical and inspirational story! The “do yourself a favour” struck a chord – how often do we NOT do that. Empowering for sure Erin!

    • Erin - January 31, 2013

      Thanks so much ladies! I love to share my story and to read the stories of other runners of all levels. I love the running community and the support, encouragement and motivation we can give to each other. Hugs! Erin

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