CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — U of I grad student Rachel Barnett has been through a major weight loss journey; she lost 90 pounds six years ago and has successfully kept it off. During that time, she found a love for running, and she’ll be putting her skills to the test this weekend in the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon Race Weekend.

Barnett will be running the Triple Mini I-Challenge, which includes a mile-long race, a 5K and a 10K.

“I did my first race last year around this time, and it was a lot of fun and I was kind of looking to get into doing another one,” Barnett said.

She said that she grew up figure skating, but during her undergrad years, she struggled with weight gain.

“I gained some weight, obviously after I retired from skating as a teenager, and it just sort of snowballed on itself during under grad and got just progressively got worse and worse and worse as I was throwing myself into my studies and my academics,” Barnett said.

Barnett said that after some lifestyle changes, she was able to see a difference.

“As I have shed the pounds, I sort of picked up athleticism on the side and became very into fitness,” she said.

While running is very different from figure skating, she said running has jumpstarted her love for fitness again.

“It’s just so convenient and you can do it from anywhere and it’s low-gear,” Barnett said.

It’s also given her a change in scenery that figure skating couldn’t provide.

“With figure skating, you’re sitting around breathing fumes and it’s very dark and dingy inside,” Barnett said. “Whereas outside I get that natural light, it helps with my circadian rhythm and my sleep.”

Barnett said this race weekend celebrates six years since losing weight and running is a way for her to thank her body for all its been through.

She said that while everyone’s body is different, she started clean eating and has been able to beep the weight off ever since.