Karen Varner loses to win

Published 5:44 pm Monday, February 4, 2013

By CONNIE NOLEN/Community Columnist

Karen Varner is a winner. She always has been a young woman that Pelham High School claimed with pride.

Pelham High School teacher Karen Varner may be smaller physically, but her Pelham Panther spirit is enormous.

As a PHS alum from the class of 1996, she went on to UAB. Returning to her alma mater as a teacher and athletic trainer after earning her degree, Varner serves today as PHS history department chair, senior class sponsor, pep rally emcee, Miss PHS emcee and a powerful product of determination and positivity.

While Varner has certainly made something of herself, she also lost almost half of the person she once was. Over Thanksgiving 2011, Varner missed only two extra days of school to have the surgery that would begin a weight loss journey toward renewed health.

“I just didn’t feel good,” Varner said. “I wanted to be able to do more and have more energy.”

To see Varner today is to know that she has accomplished her goal. Always a doer and a willing volunteer, Varner now exudes energy.

“I feel much younger,” Varner said. “I run all the time.”

Recently, Varner finished in the top 20 percent of a local race, and she’s running her first half-marathon on Feb. 24. Varner has lost 122 pounds so far. More importantly, she’s gained an improved quality of life.

“I teach with more energy and my students respond to this change in me,” Varner said.

Varner’s diet fuels her busy lifestyle.

“I eat smaller portions and very little sugar,” she said. “I take my vitamins and I eat lots of protein.”

The mother of two young sons, Varner has many reasons to celebrate her renewed health. In addition to her other duties at PHS, Varner also works with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and spearheads our PHS Relay for Life event each spring.

While her energy and activity levels attest to wonderful health, Varner said, “I would like to lose 12 more pounds so I can say I’m literally half the person I used to be.”

Physically, Karen Varner may be half of who she was; however, her determination and energy are beyond measure.


Connie Nolen can be reached by email at CNolen@Shelbyed.k12.al.us.