SARANAC - With the goal of being "Fit by 40," Martha Breyette has set her sights to take part in Plattsburgh's first half-marathon April 18.
Although she will technically already be 40 by that point, hitting the milestone April 1, Breyette knows she'll already be on the path towards her goal.
However, it's a goal which comes with many hurdles Breyette will need to get over.
"The last two years have been really difficult," Breyette admitted. "I've had a lot of health problems. I've finally, in the last six months or so, gotten a lot better health-wise."
Breyette has faced the issue of severe asthma, which has landed her in the hospital on several occasions. With the disease, she's also dealt with getting the flu, and gaining weight from the steroids that treat her asthma.
"I would say probably the last year and a half, I've probably been in the hospital 10-plus times," she said, adding a few times her condition has landed her in intensive care.
She has also been dealing with vocal cord dysfunction, a relatively unknown condition where the muscles in her throat are constrictive, and sometimes shut tight.
"Sometimes I feel like I can't get any air," Breyette said. "All the medications that I was trying to get into me, to help my airways, wasn't getting past [my throat]."
However, these obstacles have not dissuaded Breyette from signing up for the half-marathon, and changing her eating and exercising habits.
With the help of Mary Duprey, a fellow coworker at Pfizer Inc., Breyette has been coached on how to build herself up to complete the 13.1-mile race.
"The reality was, how do I get ready for this seeing as how, number one, I'm out of shape, I have put on weight, and I don't know where to start," said Breyette. "So, I went to Mary and she has literally created ... a training program."
Duprey, a certified personal trainer and triathlete, said she has set up a 14-week plan that includes both running and cross-training activities - which Breyette officially began Jan. 11.
"She does have somewhat of a base fitness level at this point, so we will be starting off with a 30-minute run/walk routines and progressing up to at least an 11-mile run," Duprey said.
She has also worked to change Breyette's eating habits.
"If the label has a list of ingredients that you can't pronounce, don't eat it," said Duprey.
In terms of Breyette's health issues, Duprey has found the exercise has actually produced positive results.
"The exercise actually seems to help Martha's asthma and it reduces her stress and tension," Duprey explained. "She knows her limits and knows when not to push herself too much."
Breyette has also noticed some changes in just a short time.
"I haven't noticed a lot of physical changes as of yet, in my body," she said. "What I'm definitely noticing is mentally. I'm noticing that I'm sleeping a little bit better."
She's also making a change in her eating habits, reducing the amount of soda, pasta and bread she takes in, and eating five small meals a day, instead of three large ones.
"[I'm] trying really hard to eat more vegetables, more fiber," Breyette explained. "I definitely needed to take in more protein and more fiber and a lot less carbohydrates."
Overall, to keep pushing herself, Breyette said she keeps repeating in her head that she wants to be fit by 40.
"But, it doesn't matter how old you are," she said. "I would say for someone who is at this point in time, out of shape, and looking to get in shape, pick a goal. This is a goal for me."
Breyette also advises those who may be considering getting more fit, to find a buddy to work with.
"Pick a buddy and just start to walk, exercise, do something," she said. "Even if you move a little bit each day, it gets easier and easier."
"Set small goals and just know that you're doing something for yourself and it's going to make you happier and healthier in the long run," she added.
Over the course of the next 14 weeks, Martha will chronicle her progress in this newspaper, through a weekly journal entry.