Battling through health issues, obesity and injuries, LVAC member Jaime Weller-Lafavor has conquered multiple challenges with determination and grace.
A native Las Vegan, she did not consider herself an active or fit child. After her parents’ divorce when she was nine, she lived with her dad and developed a love of the outdoors from him. They skied, hiked, fished and camped and she played one year of high school volleyball but did not participate in any other traditional sports.
After graduating from Cimarron Memorial high school in 1996, she headed for Northern Arizona University where she graduated Cum Laude with a dual Bachelor of Science in psychology and criminal justice. While in college, she experienced the ‘freshman 15’ weight gain from a bad diet and very little activity, which continued to drive up the scale. When she returned to Las Vegas, she began working at Child Protective Services and Child Haven, then Nevada State Youth and Family Services Division. She has spent her life advocating for children.
With the birth of her daughter Caitlyn, she reached her highest weight of 255 pounds. She remembers, “When I gave birth I was the largest I had ever been. I was depressed and felt awful. Then I was diagnosed with hypothyroid disease and was put on medication. That spring I was determined to lose weight with the hope that the medication would help me break the plateau I had reached at 190 pounds. I also joined Weight Watchers, and together with the new medication, I was able to lose more weight. But I was not fit and I truly wanted to be healthy and fit for my daughter. That has been a large part of my motivation.”
For the next few years, her weight continued to fluctuate, as she would become lazy with eating habits and exercise, making the mistake of thinking that if she was exercising she could eat whatever she wanted. She was encouraged to enter a 12-week ‘Muscle Transformation’ contest.
She did, telling everyone she knew that would listen that she was going to win. The training was tough, but she stuck with it and the day that she received the call that she had won, she said that she “was blown away”.Jaime was initially going to use her winnings for plastic surgery, but changed her mind and bought triathlon gear and equipment instead. Her winnings also paid the registration fee for her first triathlon in May 2012.
Her first race was a sprint distance race sponsored by Iron Girl at Lake Las Vegas. She was also training for her first Olympic distance race that fall. Then came the injury, a partially torn plantar fascia and she spent the remaining part of the year in a plaster cast. Determined not to fall back into old habits, she lifted weights and hula hooped, but for her, it just wasn’t the same as training for an event. After her foot healed, she signed up for her first half distance triathlon in July 2013. Jaime shared, “Boy, was that race a challenge. I cried when I crossed the finish line, but I was determined to do even better the next year.”
“I have learned, as in all things in life, if you think you can or you can’t, you are right. Our bodies are more capable than we realize, but we do need to treat them right!”
“During a beverage laden Super Bowl party, I signed up for the Tempe 70.3”, Jaime remembers.“That was when I retained LVAC personal trainer and group fitness instructor Nancy Dickinson as my coach. She helped me to make great improvements in my performance. She has been an amazing support, and along with the changes we made in my diet, I hit the podium for the first time in a sprint triathlon and then again at the end of the year for a 10k running event.”
Jaime said,” I became an LVAC member in 2014 and LVAC has served as a home base for my pool workouts, cycling classes, and indoor runs (the track is great). I use the cardio equipment as well, and try to fit in CXWORX classes when I can.”
Since that first competition in 2012, Jaime has continued to compete in over 35 races that have included triathlons, 70.3 distance triathlons, century rides and other cycling races, marathons and even mountain climbing. Jaime said, “My most memorable athletic achievements have been crossing the finish line in all my triathlons, especially the 70.3 distance, and all of my peak summits, especially Mt. Whitney. That was incredible.” In addition to all of her incredible athletic achievements, since the birth of her daughter, Jaime has lost a total of 120 pounds!
She is currently serving as the Director of Development overseeing Annual Giving along with Marketing and Communications. Jaime stated, “I truly believe that philanthropy can help Southern Nevada improve our schools, our health, and overall well-being.”
When she is not training for an event, Jaime loves to spend time hiking, backpacking, skiing and road and mountain biking. She loves being with her husband Marc and their daughter.
Throughout her journey, Jaime said, “I have learned, as in all things in life, if you think you can or you can’t, you are right. Our bodies are more capable than we realize, but we do need to treat them right!”