Become Yourself: Stephanie Varner’s journey from couch to 39.3 miles



In early 2011, blogger Stephanie Varner lost 30 lbs with Medifast and started running. She ran 5Ks, 10K, and half marathons before deciding to take on a bigger challenge: the Goofy Race and a Half Challenge. The 39.3-mile adventure has participants running a half marathon on Saturday and a full marathon (her first!) on Sunday. We asked Stephanie a few questions about stepping up to the Challenge.

What made you decide to take on a half and a full marathon back-to-back?
Some of it was the appeal of getting three medals and some of it was because there were naysayers who felt I wouldn’t be able to complete the Challenge. These were the same people who also felt I wouldn’t be able to reach (and maintain!) my weight-loss goals with Medifast, so the desire to show that it was possible was pretty strong.

How did you prepare? Did you change your diet?
I ran several times a week, and eventually upped my mileage to 20 miles total for a training run. It was challenging, to say the least—trying to manage a full-time job along with two kids made it hard to find the time to run. I juggled my daily diet between the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan and Maintenance. On my harder training days (with longer runs) I would stick to Maintenance with lots of protein and vegetables. On my off days, I stuck to the 5 & 1 Plan. It was a good balance for me and I felt like I wasn’t taking in too many heavy carbs during my entire training schedule.

What went through your mind the morning of the half marathon?
The half marathon was great. I have done five other half marathons, so this was just race under my belt. I had a great time running, and it was nice to see where the mile markers were to start off the full marathon the next day. I was in a really happy mood and had a blast running this race.

How did you mentally overcome the challenges to run on Day 2?
Day two, the full marathon, was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. I was already tired from running a half marathon the day before, and I was extremely worried about the weather for the day. (It was a high of 86 degree with 88% humidity and no clouds.)

I felt okay in the beginning, but at mile 19, I hit a major mental wall. I had a lot of support coming in via text messaging, but I was still struggling. I was overheated, dehydrated, and couldn’t imagine going another 7.2 miles. A group of friends met me at mile 19.5 and I hugged one of them, literally sobbing about how I just couldn’t take another step.

I was scared that the sweepers were going to catch up to me. I had to stop at every single medical station. I felt like a complete mess. They encouraged me to keep going and told me how proud they were; I couldn’t let them down, and I couldn’t let myself down. I kept moving one foot in front of the other and repeated, “Keep moving forward!”

In your post, you said, “In January 2013, I became myself.” How did completing this race transform you?
As soon as the finish line for the marathon was in sight, everything from the past two years came flooding over me. I thought about my struggles with my weight before I started Medifast, how I was able to get to my weight-loss goals, and how far I’d come not only physically, but mentally, in two years. I was so overcome with emotion that I cried the moment my foot hit the finish line.

I realized when I had all three medals on my neck at once that I had truly found myself; someone who has transformed themselves inside and out, and if I’m capable of running nearly 40 miles in two days, I’m capable of anything I set my mind to.


You can read Stephanie’s full, inspiring post about the races and about her weight-loss journey with Medifast on her blog, Adventures of Goober Grape and Monkey Man.

Renee Beck

Author: Renee Beck

Renee provides public relations support to all divisions of Medifast. When she’s not busy getting success stories on The Today Show, working with bloggers, managing testimonials, drinking chocolate Ready-to-Drinks to make sure she gets all of her vitamins, and dishing out advice to anyone who will listen … she sleeps.


  1. this is such an insanely motivational post! i can’t get over it. i got a little choked up thinking about her with her friends, being loved and supported during day 2. so good.

  2. I am so freaking proud of you and your accomplishments, Steph! you are truly an inspiration!

  3. SO SO SO proud of you, Steph! We’ve been chatting for over a year and I’m so glad to have seen you go through this journey…you’re inspiring to not only me, but to so many people as well. Congrats on the Goofy and onto the Dumbo!

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