Run My World: How I Empowered Myself Through Fitness

I never used to be a runner. When I had to run in PE or sports, I knew I was slow and thought that my long, lanky limbs looked awkward. I avoided running at all costs, and I always thought that people who ran for fun were crazy.

When I began studying at Loyola University Chicago, I saw many people running outside along the lakefront. That seemed slightly more fun than running on a treadmill that was in the basement of our rec center, so I decided to give it a shot. Once I realized how gorgeous the views were, I fell in love with running.

I’ve always loved group fitness and dance classes, but there’s something about running.

With running, you can choose your own route, your own pace, and your own music. It’s empowering to feel your strong legs taking on the world in front of you, one step at a time.

If you’re training, you’re able to slowly increase your mileage, strengthening your body, but most importantly, your mind.

While I was in college, I struggled with an eating disorder.

It ranged from being so picky and obsessed with “healthy eating” that I wouldn’t eat with any friends to bingeing and purging my food. Not only was I physically unhealthy, but I was mentally struggling as well. I desperately wanted to be happy and healthy, but I was neither.

Running slowly helped me recover. In the same way that I would aim to go a few days without disordered eating behaviors, I would slowly try to improve my running.

Some days, I would work on fast sprints, and other days I would work on longer distance running. I set SMART goals that were small, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-specific. Achieving those fitness goals gave me confidence to achieve mental health goals, which consequently empowered me to achieve other goals, academically and professionally.

I’ve been running for about four years, and I now have a goal set to run a half marathon on every continent. My work and studies have fortunately enabled me to travel the world, and I’ve learned how much I love to run to explore new areas. I think the best way to learn a new city is by foot, and you can cover so much more ground while running. You’re able to immerse yourself in your surroundings like a local, and you’re able to see the world with energizing endorphins.

I’m literally running my own world, and I know it’s only the beginning. I have empowered myself to face any challenge with bravery.

Through my physical and mental strength, I’m confident I’m able to take on whatever comes my way in life.

I hope that by sharing my story, more girls can run their own worlds.

About the Author // Mary is a fitness trainer by morning, marketer by day, and writer by night. She earned her bachelor’s degree and Master of Business Administration in marketing at Loyola University Chicago. She’s a NASM-certified personal trainer with a specialization in behavior change. Run My World is her first book. You can connect with her at or @itsmaryk.

15% of all book profits will be donated to Girls in the Game, a Chicago organization that helps every girl find her voice, discover her strength and lead with confidence through fun and active sports, health and leadership programs.

With extreme fitness trends like clean eating obsessions and exercise addictions, ‘healthy’ can become unhealthy fast. These fixations can damage people’s confidence and overall mental health, preventing them from accomplishing goals in and out of the gym.

In her first book, Mary Kesinger shares her story and health journey. Through fitness, she was able to overcome her eating disorder and obsession with being healthy. Surrounded by encouragement and love, she changed the way she viewed her body, herself, and her world. She empowered herself, and she has since achieved more personal, academic, and professional goals than she ever imagined.

Mary narrates how different fitness challenges can be transferable to other areas of life. Filled with anecdotes and honest reflections, she explains how others can run their own worlds.