April 24, 2013 - Ortonville- Food often becomes a centerpiece of holiday get-togethers, but one area family is focusing on health and each other by walking together Mother's Day weekend.
Louanne Allison, 53, will be joined by her daughters, Amanda DeLandsheer, 25, and Amy Allison, 20, at the Bookin' It for Your Library 5K on Saturday, May 11. The event begins and ends at the Brandon Township Library, 304 South St.
This is the second annual Bookin' It race. Last year's event was the first 5K Louanne had done in many years, and she invited her daughters, both Brandon High School graduates, to join her in doing the race. She never expected the girls, both former cross country running stars who could complete the 3.1 miles in less than 25 minutes, to walk the race next to their mother.
"They chose to go at my pace," she said. "That was very cool. It just shows what big hearts my girls have. I didn't want to hold them back, I really just wanted to spend time with them doing a Mother's Day thing that isn't just eating. I'm very interested in getting better health."
The journey to a healthier lifestyle for the family, which includes husband and father Tim Allison, began about six years ago when Amanda, a 2005 Brandon High School graduate, had a summer internship at an athletic club and came home one day after an intense personal nutrition class and cleaned out the family's pantry.
"I threw out anything processed with hydrogenated oils or high fructose corn syrup and shifted our food behaviors to small, frequent meals, made up of whole foods, versus prepackaged goods, which is not food," said Amanda, who still teaches nutrition classes at the athletic club, is finishing up a master's degree at U-M Flint in science and health education, and is assistant project manager for the Greater Flint Health Coalition.
Around the same time, Amy, a 2011 BHS graduate, inspired by her sister and powered by her own self-motivation, would make the changes in her life that led to a 70-pound weight loss.
As a 13-year-old, Amy recalls she was very heavy and unhealthy, with a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits.
"I was made fun of a lot in school, especially on the bus," said Amy. "My friends were cute and pretty and proud of what they were blooming into and I didn't feel beautiful, ever."
In eighth grade, she joined the soccer team, and while she was the slowest on the team, her coach told her she had the most heart. Her freshman year of high school, she began running with her sister and laid out a new eating plan. Her mother made all of her meals, with tons of vegetables, fish and chicken, and no more processed foods or desserts.
Louanne drove her daughter to the athletic club to work out at 5 a.m. before school and when Amy wanted to run after dark when no one would see her, her mother would go to the track with her.
In the beginning, Amy actually enjoyed the physical pain because she knew her body was getting healthy. The mental part proved to be more difficult.
"Even after running, I would think, 'I will still be heavy, still be ugly,'" said Amy. "It would get so hard, and I would be in pain and tired and tell myself, 'It's just not worth it,' but when the weight came off, it was all so worth it and I took off, like a rocket ship."
Amy couldn't stop running and ran everyday because, as she says, "it made me feel so good."
She would lose up to 10 pounds in a week in the beginning as the weight melted away. People began noticing and some fellow classmates began sending her messages, asking how she achieved her success. She still had to bear cruel comments, as the same girls that had called her a cow when she was heavier then accused her of having an eating disorder.
"I still succeeded, regardless of what they had to say or what they thought," Amy said. "You can lose weight if you're fat, but if you are mean, no workout can make you a nice person."
Now a Kettering University sophomore studying mechanical engineering, Amy ran her first half-marathon last October and is looking forward to walking with her mom and sister Amanda in the Bookin' It for Your Library 5K again.
"I am looking forward to being to my Mom what she was to me," she said. "I will be her support system as she was to me."
Cost for the Bookin' It For Your Library 5K Run/Walk is $15 including T-shirt. A one-mile Dewey Decimal Dash for children ages 12 and under is $10. Registration forms available at the Brandon Library, or
www.brandonlibrary.org. Details: 248-627-1462.
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville