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Providence program is kicked off by famous blogger who promotes health and acceptance.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MIRNA VALERIO -  Mirna 'The Mirnavator' Valerio Nationally recognized ultra-marathoner Mirna "The Mirnavator" Valerio, known as the "Fat Girl Running" blogger helped kick off Providence Heart Institute's sixth annual "Heart to Start" free "couch to 5K" training program at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 7 at Basecamp Cardiac Prevention and Wellness at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center.

Valerio's story of courage and determination began in 2008 when, after a four-year hiatus from running, she weighed more than 300 pounds. Her doctor told her she wouldn't live to see her son grow up if she didn't lose weight.

Valerio has been running ever since and has crossed the finish line of dozens of runs – including nine marathons and nine ultra-marathons. Valerio's social media posts have served an inspiration to runners and walkers of all shapes and abilities who post comments and photos thanking her for her messages of self-acceptance, self-love and living life to its fullest.

Valerio was recently featured in an REI documentary and last month, she published her first book titled "A Beautiful Work in Progress.

Since 2012, Heart to Start, led by Dr. James Beckerman, cardiologist with Providence Heart Institute, has inspired hundreds of people run their first 5K and set goals of becoming healthier. Heart to Starters have gone on to climb mountains, run ultra-marathons and some have reversed medical conditions such as high blood pressure and cholesterol.

The kickoff night included interactive wellness stations encouraging participants to get their blood pressure checked; participate in yoga or guided meditation; and learn about group volunteer opportunities in the community.

Those who registered for Heart to Start on kick off night received a free T-shirt. The evening ended with a book signing by Valerio. To learn more about the free 12-week training program, visit welcometobasecamp.org/hearttostart/.

By Mandy Feder-Sawyer
Reporter, Beaverton Valley Times
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