Rebecca Harding wasn’t always an exercise buff. In fact, the 49-year-old Salt Lake City woman used to shy away from most physical activity because she was too ashamed of her size. Now, she’s an avid runner, sometimes going out twice a day. And she’s 68 pounds lighter.

What transformed this former couch potato into a fitness fanatic? She credits Books on Tape.

“I was always much heavier than I wanted to be,” Rebecca says. “As a teenager, I was 30 pounds overweight.” Through marriage and three pregnancies, she continued to gain. By age 35, she weighed 204 pounds.

All the while, Rebecca’s self-esteem plummeted. She began avoiding social events, and even dreaded grocery shopping, for fear that she’d run into someone she knew who’d notice how much she had gained. “All I wanted to do was stay home and eat,” she says. “The more I ate, the worse I felt about myself. The worse I felt about myself, the more I ate.”

Rebecca’s turning point came the day she waited in a hospital emergency room with one of her sick children. “A nurse asked me when my baby was due,” she said. “I was mortified. I wasn’t pregnant.” she says. “Then and there, I made up my mind to slim down.”

Out went the junk food and fast food, replaced by healthful choices such as whole-grain cereals for breakfast, salads for lunch, and skinless chicken breast—stir-fried in lemon juice instead of oil—for dinner.

For exercise, Rebecca joined a walking group in her neighborhood. As she got trimmer and fitter, she went out on her own, graduating to jogging and eventually to running.

Rebecca enjoyed the faster pace of her workouts, but she missed the companionship of her walking-group buddies. To keep herself from getting bored, she decided to listen to Books on Tape while she ran. “I had used the tapes occasionally while I was driving, and I enjoyed them immensely,” she explains.

She began borrowing tapes from her local library and listening to them during her workouts. “I told myself that I could play them only when I was running,” she says. “If I got really caught up in a particular tape, I’d run twice in one day just to finish it.”

That may explain why she was able to lose 68 pounds in just 8 months. Fifteen years later, she maintains her weight at 136 pounds. And she continues to eat healthfully and run daily, always with her Books on Tape in tow.

“Just recently, I ran to a tape of The Horse WhispererRebecca says. “Later, when I drove my route to measure it, I couldn’t believe how far I had gone. Almost 9 miles up a steep hill—and in the rain. I hadn’t even noticed because I was so into the tape.”


Catch up on your reading while you work out. Listen to ^ Books on Tape, available at most libraries, while you run, walk, or do other types of exercise. The stories will keep your mind occupied, and you’ll finish your workout before you know it. In fact, you may even find yourself looking forward to your next session. A word of caution, however: If you live in an area where there’s lots of traffic, you may want to leave your headphones at home. You need to know what’s going on around you, for safety’s sake.


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