By Jackie Rainford Corcoran EBS Health Columnist

Bozeman resident Janet Cassidy is on a mission to confront and overcome obesity. She is going to walk 3,000 miles across the U.S., beginning in in San Diego, Calif., in March 2016 and finishing that September in Tallahassee, Fla., and you’re invited to join her journey.

Cassidy weighed 350 pounds five years ago. She has since lost 150 pounds and firmly believes that if she can turn her health around, anyone can.

During a Sept. 22 interview with Cassidy, it was apparent that she’s in this for the long haul. After a rocky start in her youth, she has changed her mindset about weight loss.

“My mother always tried to do restrictive eating with me so I always rebelled against any sort of diet,” Cassidy said. “The only time I lost weight was when I was a sophomore in high school and I got down to 107 pounds by not eating and throwing up.”

However, Cassidy says she started gaining that weight back quickly and never went on a diet again. When she began losing weight this time, it wasn’t for the sake of weight loss, but to feel healthier.

We all have pivotal moments in our lives that trigger a powerful change. For Cassidy, it was in 2010 after a festive St. Patrick’s Day of, “drinking good beer and eating bad food,” when she woke up feeling terrible and visited her doctor.

Cassidy had been controlling diabetes with pills for five years and was sent to the Bozeman Health Diabetes Center where she began crying when she was told she had to start taking insulin twice daily. However, the physician was caring and informative and offered her a plan of action that gave her hope. After taking his advice and getting counseling from a dietitian she got off of all of her medications within four months.

“I’m not sure what you would call how I eat now,” Cassidy said, when asked to describe her current nutritional habits. “All I know is I get up every morning and I try to make the right choices for my health. Sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I fail miserably, but not trying everyday is not an option.”

Her physician told Cassidy that if she ever wanted to get her weight down to 150 pounds she would have to restrict herself to 1100 calories a day, due to the hormonal imbalances caused by diabetes. This depressed her at first, but now she says, “I just go one day at a time and hope for the best.”

I asked Cassidy if she feared the long walk ahead of her.

“I just don’t let my mind go there,” she said. Cassidy has faith that this is the right thing to do for herself and everyone else struggling with obesity. Her mottos keep her motivated and she hopes they encourage others: “If I can do it anyone can. One step at a time.”

Visit roamforimprovement.com to join Cassidy on a leg of her journey, or to donate to her undertaking.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, an NASM Certified Personal Trainer, a public speaker and health activist. Contact her at jackie@thetahealth.com, or find more information at thetahealth.org.