About a decade ago, Jay Ell Alexander of Richmond, Virginia, was one of the only Black women in her running groups.
That’s why she decided to join Black Girls Run, a national organization that encourages women of color to pursue health through the sport. By 2019, Jay Ell became the group’s CEO!
“Back then, there were not African American women running in 10Ks, half marathons, and so forth,” Jay Ell said. “When you go to a training team and you see the only one other Black woman there, you sort of gravitate to each other.”
After Jay Ell had a baby boy in 2019, she realized she was overweight and out of shape. As the face of Black Girls Run, she decided there was no better way to get back on track than by doing what she tells others to do: get moving!
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“I hit my heaviest weight in September 2019, when I gave birth to my son,” she explained. “Because I lead [Black Girls Run], I thought this is really a time for me to be an advocate for the mission that I preach.”
So Jay Ell started watching her diet carefully and signing up for virtual races. She enlisted help from her husband to keep her accountable, and he ended up losing pounds in the process as well.
Just a year later, her husband has lost 50 pounds, and Jay Ell has lost 115 pounds!
“We took a family and team approach in terms of weight loss and meal planning,” she said.
Now that she’s had her own “personal journey,” Jay Ell finds it even easier to relate to other women in her organization. She added, “I’m being an advocate and walking the walk of the mission that we preach every day.”
But the ultimate goal of Black Girls Run is about much more than losing weight. For starters, it’s a way to combat health problems that Black women are statistically more likely to suffer from, including heart disease and strokes. It’s also removing the intimidation many Black women feel when they start a new sport like running.
“A lot of the women that are joining our community want to reinvest in themselves. They want to join a community of women who look like them to say, ‘This is my time,'” Jay Ell said. “We want women to just become healthier and just start moving.”
As for what others can do to follow in her footsteps, Jay Ell recommends starting any weight loss journey with a “healthy mind.”
“You have to be ready to get up off the couch and put your shoes on, or wake up at 6 a.m. to put the [exercise] DVD on. If you’re not in that sound mind, take your time,” she said. She also advises changing your entire lifestyle, making fitness a priority even on days when it’s tough to get motivated.
Jay Ell is definitely “walking the walk.” She took charge of her fitness, and now she’s setting a great example for others while making running accessible to all!
Share this story to congratulate Jay Ell on her amazing journey.
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