Interview: Melissa Kahn, The Mother Heifer

By on December 11th, 2017

For this month's interview we are heading Stateside once again, although the effects of what this amazing lady has achieved are witnessed all across the globe. It's my pleasure to introduce you all to... Melissa Kahn!

For those out there who are not lucky enough yet to know who you are, go ahead and give them a 30 second catch up.
I'm Melissa Kahn, a half-marathon runner and mother of four, and I founded the online community called Run, Heifer, Run! as a way to connect with and encourage others who are on a journey to healthier and happier lives, one step or mile at a time. Five years ago, I cut the bull and got serious about my health. Starting with a few steps, I managed to lose over 110 pounds, worked my way up to running races and even completed a triathlon. I cleaned up my diet, shed the weight and ultimately found a fitness enthusiast underneath all of that extra baggage. I do all of this from my "heiferhood" in sunny Phoenix, where my husband, teenagers and two crazy puppies remind me that we're all a little happier in a herd. So what was your main goal that you wanted to achieve from changing your lifestyle (besides shedding an insane 110lb or cause!)?
In changing my lifestyle, I wanted to get healthy. I wanted to have the energy to climb the steps in my home without being winded. Genetically speaking, my family genetic pool needs some chlorine - everyone's dead of heart disease or health-related preventable illnesses. I wanted more for my life. The running and triathlon didn't come until well after the weight loss. As i'm sure you know, there are always obstacles in everything you do in life, and making a dramatic change to your health and lifestyle is no different. Looking back, what would you say was your biggest obstacle in getting to where you are today, and how did you manage to overcome it? The biggest obstacle I faced was temptation and social situations. My friends are typically supportive, but everyone thinks it's ok to say "Oh come on, one bite won't hurt you" when, as a person trying to lose over 100 pounds knows, one bite turns into two, turns into the whole cake.  It's essential that your support network REALLY GRASP your goals and how to help you. My biggest obstacle, then, was my own mind, in knowing when to give in and eat a bite, or when to just say NO! Actually that's still my biggest obstacle.
I wanted more for my life
To all those who are reading this interview and either thinking of making a change to their lives or are currently working on their own journey, what would be the biggest piece of support you could give to them right now? Don't wait. Start TODAY. Don't wait until Monday. Until the new year. Make the changes necessary to get healthy starting TODAY. You are worth it, your life is worth it, and you need to take control over your own health. If you don't, who will? You can delay by saying you don't have time to exercise or meal plan - but do you have time later to be sick in the hospital? I don't think you do. Personally I think that people's health always stems from their youth, now more than ever as unhealthy food has a more commonplace in society. What would be one thing you would say to your younger self or any other young person battling with their weight or self esteem? Self-esteem shouldn't come from the number on the scale, but sadly in today's society, we're bombarded with images of anorexic models, people who have no body fat, who are touted as "healthy and beautiful."  You know what's healthy and beautiful? Strong. Curves.  Thigh gap should NOT be a thing.  What SHOULD be a thing is a woman who can run a 5k and still breathe, now THAT is sexy. So, what made you decide on creating the Run, Heifer, Run! community, and did you ever envision that it would have grown to the size it is today? I created RHR as a way to connect with other people who were struggling with similar issues (food addiction, low self esteem, etc) When word started to get out, things kind of went viral.  We've got almost 11,000 strong on twitter and over 2200 in our closed facebook group (ed. Now closing on 2,400!).  I'm honored to be a part of something bigger than myself and more importantly, I'm honored to watch the relationships between heifers form - relationships that are healthy and supportive, encouraging while at the same time not accepting "BS" excuses.  We push each other to be our very best (yes even the head Heifer needs a push now and then) and we have a no holds barred approach to fitness and health.  I never envisioned it'd grow this big this fast, and I love every minute of it.  We use the hashtag #iKahn to show the world we are one #heiferNation and that we stand together in #theHerd. What makes RHR different from all of the other running groups and communities out there? I think our approach to fitness and life makes us different. We are 100% DRAMA FREE. Nobody has time for it.  Don't respect others? You're gone.  Make fun of slower runners or heavier people? GONE. No drama.  We are 100% dedicated to the support #theHerd and the encouragement of ALL people - all sizes, shapes, etc. to get out, get "MOOOOVING" and get healthy.  We have fun. We cuss a little. And we are a family. Last month you organised the first virtual run for the community which went down a storm , what are your plans for the future, bigger virtual events, possibly a physical race or an international Heifer meetup? The first annual #MillionMooMarch was a huge success. We had an international sell-out within a few weeks of opening registration, and we're very proud of that. We had participants from Japan to China, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, and Africa as well as North America.  The one and only Bart Yasso even participated. Currently we're planning one more affiliated virtual race (spring time frame) and then we'll gear up again for the second annual #MillionMooMarch next fall.  Run, Heifer, Run! has plans of physical races in the not too distant future, and I am currently traveling around the world meeting up with heifers from Israel to Nepal, to England and back again. It's a whirlwind and an amazing time. We have a large contingent running the Reykjavik marathon in Iceland next August.
You know what's healthy and beautiful? Strong. Curves.  Thigh gap should NOT be a thing.
How does it feel knowing that you have inspired so many people and helped many, many more achieve their own health and fitness goals. You are a Mother Heifer to so many people! It feels amazing, but it's not about me. It's about each and every one of THEM.  I was just the person with the idea. In order for the community to come together the way it has and to be such a successful group, it takes each and every person's participation and heart.  Every single heifer offers something unique and inspiring to the group and without them, we are nothing.  I hope that my upcoming triathlon in Nepal and the journey I'm sharing will help inspire others, to not just get healthy but to join #theHerd and share THEIR stories of struggle and triumph.  That's what it's all about.  Sharing, and being a family. So, if Gaga has Little Monsters, Bieber has Beliebers, who does Mother Heifer have? Calves? I'm bad with these puns. I'm not punny. Finally anything else you would like to say to the lovely readers? Thank you all for reading, and for supporting our community.  So many huge things are in store for us, come join us online at and in our facebook group Run, Heifer, Run! and follow me on twitter @melissakahn7 for lots of bad jokes and a few inspiring posts from time to time. Mostly, I'm just cranky and hungry.
A quick thank you to everyone who voted for me, Spinal Research and the Run Heifer Run community in the 2018 Running Awards. The shortlists will be announced on Tuesday and i'll be letting you all know the results on Facebook and Instagram. On another note, the next round of the #StepUp challenge will be starting on the 1st of next month, just in time for all of those new year's resolutions to kick in. I would love it if you could come over and join us all for a friendly competition and support as we all try and keep ourselves moving into the new year and reach our step goals each day! I listened to all of your feeback from the last round and now we have a shiny new sited jam packed full of new features, badges and trophies to earn. Head over to the site to register now and i'll drop you a reminder just before New Year so you don't forget to keep a track of your steps :)