by Cynthia Flores/Asianjournal.com
LOS ANGELES – Of the 20,230 finishers in the 2007 LA Marathon, close to 8,000 were women. Holding the record of being the fastest female runner in the 5K events run in her age group, the fourth fastest 10K time, fifth fastest for half marathon and seventh fastest in the full marathon is Rosemarie Hernandez Jeanpierre.
Five years ago, walking just a short distance was an extremely difficult task for Rosemarie. Badly obese through her life, Rosemarie at 5’2 weighed 220 pounds. Now literally half the woman she used to be, Rosemarie has shed half of this and now weighs 110 pounds. She has competed in many races, has won a lot of medals and has come to be a part of the Los Angeles elite runners’ class.
Recently, Rosemarie has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Shape magazine, More Magazine and the L.A. Sports and Fitness magazine. She will also be appearing in an infomercial with Billy Blanks TAEBO T3 this March and in the Competitor magazine soon.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be able to become an athlete and accomplish anything like this, “ admitted Rosemarie to Asian Journal. “As a child growing up in San Fernando, La Union, I was always the heaviest student in the class.”
Around the mid-80’s, a friend introduced Rosemarie to an American, Kenneth Jeanpierre, who works for the IRS and became her pen pal for three years. In 1988, Kenneth went to the Philippines and married Rosemarie.
“Before I got married, I shed about 50 pounds but it was in the wrong way. I starved myself so all the weight crept back after I got married,” said Rosemarie. She weighed 130 pounds on her wedding day.
Three years after she moved to the US, she was pushing 200. She took up LVN in California and upon passing the State Board Exam, worked as a nurse in the Western Convalescent Hospital for 12 years.
Rosemarie tells her incredible weight loss story in a voice that reveals her own amazement.
“In 2003, I have been having severe migraine attacks and was constantly not feeling well. I decided to have a physical exam and tests showed that I have borderline Diabetes Mellitus, hypertension and out-of-range cholesterol levels and at high risk for a heart attack. It was also the first year anniversary of my father’s death who died of a heart attack as a complication of his diabetes. It was a wake-up call for me. I decided I had to do something about my health,” she said.
“I knew I had to do major changes in my lifestyle. But, knowing in my heart that with God, all things are possible, I was able to overcome my health concerns. I started to do a lot of researching on how to manage a healthy lifestyle. I started educating myself by going to the library and getting all the information I could find that had something to do with fitness and health. And I do believe in the saying, the more you know, the better you do,” she said.
“It was really very difficult at first, but with strong faith in Him, I was able to be guided in abundance. With lots of hard work, will power, determination, consistency, persistence, and self-discipline, support from family and friends, I was able to accomplish my goal. I started to eat healthy – like high in protein, low in carbs and fat. I watched my calorie intake. I exercised, I started walking at first, for at least an hour a day and weight training as well,” she added.
Letting go of rice
“It wasn’t easy specially since I had to cut back on my rice intake. But I don’t deprive myself of Filipino food. I grew up with Filipino food so I love the taste. But now I just load up on the healthier dishes, the ones with a lot of gulay. I’m blessed because I’ve always loved vegetables. I love pinakbet, diningding, all of that, ” stated Rosemarie.
Walking and running was simply an everyday part of her life that Rosemarie didn’t think they would become her passion.
“That was the turning point in my life, when it became a passion for my staying fit. In 2005, my nephew suggested I join the LA marathon. And I realized that I was really ready for a marathon. For that year, I was able to participate in 3 full marathons and did well. I did not stop there. I started running several half marathons as well. And before I knew it, I was being recognized as one of the top three runners in my age division in LA.”
“I never dreamed in my entire life that I would be known as an athlete or a runner, but there I was getting medals and trophies for something I absolutely love doing. I did not run to compete, but just for the sake of the joy running brings me,” she added.
Now working at the Pacific Alliance Medical Center, Rosemarie happily states that she’s enjoying good health and the migraines are gone. “I am so thankful to God for His blessings that He’s given me – doing such a complete transformation in my life. With these accomplishments, I believe God has a purpose in my life, and this is to share my story, to motivate and to inspire others to set positive goals and to set good examples in fulfilling and achieving healthy lifestyle. I want to encourage others to step out from their comfort zones, to do something worthwhile in their lives to release their full potentials,” Rosemarie said.
Today, one of Rosemarie’s dreams is to have a running event especially for Filipinos.
“At all of my running events, I don’t see nearly enough Filipinos. I wish more Filipinos would participate in events like these [such as the L.A. marathon]. I hope we can have our own running event, you know, with sponsors and everything so we can raise funds for the less fortunate in the Philippines.”
With her faith in God, Rosemarie truly believes this will happen soon. “All things are possible with God,” she stresses.