Delaware Co. Weight Watchers coach training for Half Ironman in Atlantic City

Having competed in marathons and triathlons, the 70.3 mile Half Ironman will be her biggest challenge yet at age 60.
HAVERTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- On Saturday mornings, Michele McCandless coaches Weight Watchers meetings in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

"The meetings offer accountability and support," she said. "We want it to be a way of life and a journey."

McCandless says she originally joined Weight Watchers back in the 1970s, but was on and off the program for decades. She now refers to herself as a "repeat offender."

In 2015, she got her decades-long Weight Watchers journey back on track after rejoining with her husband, Edward.

"I lost 50 pounds," said McCandless. "Took us about eight months."

She says the difference this time was that she enjoyed her weight loss journey.

Now as a coach for Weight Watchers of Philadelphia, she stresses healthy eating and exercise. She also leads a group walk after the meeting.

"I just wanted to make it fun and it really is rewarding," she said.

McCandless started setting fitness goals for herself a decade ago.

"At age 50, I had a bucket list item to run a 5k," she said. "My next run was a 10k."

She went on to marathons and triathlons. Her next race in Atlantic City, New Jersey in September of 2021 will be her biggest challenge yet.

"I'm 60 and I'll be able to do my first Half Ironman," she says.

McCandless started training for the 70.3 mile race in November of 2020.

"I'm doing about six days a week, with one day off," said McCandless.

She says training sessions can last anywhere from two hours, up to four or five hours depending on her workout. She's preparing for a 1.2-mile swim.

"We've been taking it twice or three times a week outdoors to the Schuylkill River. It's a joy to swim there," she said.

The Half Ironman will also include a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

"I found my happy place, because it is like a big stress reliever," she said.

McCandless says she's feeling confident about the race.

"And now at age 60, I feel healthier and more like a kid than I did when I was younger," says McCandless. "And I just truly enjoy it."

For more information:
Ironman 70.3 Atlantic City
Weight Watchers of Philadelphia
Copyright © 2021 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.