June Blaser of Silverdale, Wash., is the picture of health. She works out 2-3 hours a day, six days a week, competes in multiple races – including Ironman Triathlons – each year, has a happy marriage, unyielding confidence and a beautiful smile. She doesn’t need a medal, though she now has a collection of them, to prove that wellness is indeed winning.
“If you saw me 15 years ago, you wouldn’t have believed any of this was possible, because I didn’t believe it,” she said. “I weighed 286 pounds, was in a bad relationship, with no higher education or job experience. I was not healthy, in any sense of the word.”
June graduated from high school in 1991, had her son, Matt, in 1993, and found herself alone – divorced and destitute – by 1996. “I had no self-esteem and no option other than to move back in with my parents. My only possessions were a stereo and bed. I had to go on welfare,” she said. “It was definitely my bottom, or maybe my starting blocks.”
It was at that moment that June took the first steps in owning her own course. “I needed to pull myself up from a lot of stuff,” she said. “I was so degraded that I had to begin re-training my mind, along with my body, to believe I was more capable than I thought. Physical and mental health really do go hand in hand.”
She took advantage of a placement in a computerized-training school, which allowed her to begin working at hospice. June started as an administrative assistant, graduated to the front desk, then data entry, then to accounts receivable. As her job skills grew, over a decade, so did her confidence.
“I started working as a karaoke DJ. It was my night job and pushed me to have fun and be with other people,” she said. “Through working, at parties, weddings, in happy and social situations, I began to discover my true self and who I wanted to be.” After a two year friendship, June married her husband James in 2001.
“I was trying to be more of an example for my son, and show him how to eat and be healthy,” June said. “I had gotten myself down to about 220 lbs. just by trying to be more conscious about my habits.”
After years of living in survival mode, June was able to shift into an administrative contractor job in 2006 at the U.S. Naval Base in Keyport, Wash., which became permanent government employment by 2008. With a stronger emotional, career and family foothold than ever before, she was poised for the offer that presented itself next.
“A friend invited me in 2008 to come with her to the Kitsap Tri Babes on Saturdays. She assured me it was for all shapes and sizes. She said they would just get together and swim, workout and encourage each other…so I went,” June said. “That same year I did my first Danskin Women’s Triathlon. It was a sprint! The Tri Babes’ web site says: The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start. That’s definitely true in my case. But I did it. Then, I did it again!”
June found her heart in running. She started doing area 5ks and 4-milers regularly. By 2010 she was ready to run her first Olympic distance triathlon – a double sprint – 1,200-yard swim, 26-mile bike and 10k run.
“I just enjoyed it, my husband was a runner and he reassured me,” she said. “I was starting to feel like a whole person. I had new reasons to smile about, but I wanted to like the smile I was wearing so I turned to Clear Creek Dentistry for some help.”
“I had a bad experience with an extraction in the past, so I was super scared of the dentist. Dr. Haws was so patient, kind, slow and meticulous with me. During each step, he made sure I was OK and comfortable. His skill, gentle voice and tender demeanor were just the perfect fit for me throughout this process,” she said. “He did an amazing job with my veneers and crowns. My new smile was completed in 2011 and I couldn’t have been happier! It was a reflection of not just good teeth, but my inner self-esteem.”
Continuing to race full throttle, June participated in 21 half marathons, three full marathons and her first half Ironman race in Hawaii in 2013 alone. She did another half Ironman in 2014 in Lake Stevens, Wash., and another last month in Victoria, B.C. Her current goal is to complete a full Ironman Triathlon – a 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike, and full 26.2-mile marathon – this fall in Louisville, Ky.
“It’s an ongoing investment in me, in how I feel,” June said. “The dental work, my fitness program, my career, my family have changed my entire attitude about who I am. It hasn’t been an overnight transformation, but nothing lasting forever is. After years of trying to make other people happy, I finally realized that I have to be happy with myself first to truly help anyone else.”
Today, June remains involved with the Kitsap Tri Babes, encouraging other girls and women in their fitness goals, and is on the board of the West Sound Triathlon Club, which actively supports its individual members and various community running events.