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    Posted October 11, 2013 by
    Ottawa, Illinois
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments

    More from Thewookie

    From Fatman to Ironman


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Thewookie says the hardest part of his transformation has been dealing with the naysayers. 'People are naturally skeptical and negative, so until I lost a lot of weight, I was accused of lying about swimming 1 mile or running 6 miles or whatever. Now they can go look at the race websites, see my name and my time, and they can't argue with it anymore. The rest is easy. It's like a snowball. Once you get rolling, it just picks up speed and rolls even easier. I'm addicted to the endorphins and I can't stand to miss a workout.' See his story on CNN.com.
    - dsashin, CNN iReport producer

    On January 13, 2012, I weighed in at just over 337 pounds - You could call me Jabba the Hutt. I work at a chemical plant and was climbing to the top of a super structure that was 120+ feet in the air. By the time I got to the top, I had to double over to catch my breath. It was at this point that I knew that if I didn't do something to lose weight, I would never see my three beautiful daughters graduate college, get married or have kids of their own. This was unacceptable. The Sunday immediately following my epiphany, I took my 7 year old swimming at the local YMCA and decided to swim some laps. First day, I swam 10 laps (1/8 of a mile). When I finished, I decided that I was going to run the Ironman in Louisville, Kentucky (Where I'm originally from) in 5 years or less. I did not set a weightloss goal. I set a goal so big that I couldn't achieve it until I grew into (or shrunk down to as the case was) the person who could do it. Everyone discounted me when I said I would do it.  Most reactions were effectively saying, "sure thing, fat boy. you'll run the ironman when pigs fly".


    I lost 30 pounds swimming by March (4 days per week) and had gotten up to swimming a mile on Saturdays. I then started couch to 5K in March 2012. 9 weeks later, I ran my first 5K (39:56 - slow). I moved onto bridge to 10K training. When I hit a wall at 10K training, I consulted a local sports nutritionist who taught me how to eat correctly to fuel the exercise. I also started a facebook page called From Fat man to Iron Man and have many people who follow me as well as many people whom I follow. Once I got through the nutritional change, I continued with half marathon and full marathon training. I ran my first half marathon (Naperville Trails in Illinois - 2:43:51) on September 23rd and my first marathon (Indianapolis Monumental on Novemver 2nd - 5:21:03).


    I started cycling in June 2012 and by the time I ran my first sprint triathlon in October, I had lost 95 pounds. I continued to train all winter running outside (in -19 windchill on many days) and ran my second marathon (Kentucky Derby 4:56:19). I ran addiitonal sprint triathlons, two olympic triathlons, and the Ironman 70.3 in Racine Wisconsin - 7:21) on July 21st. I ran my third marathon on September 22 (Fox valley Marathon). My plan is to run the Louisville Ironman on August 24, 2014 barring no injuries.


    To date, I have lost 135 pounds. I work out on average 12-14 hours per week. I awaken at 3am on the weekdays to run, swim and strength train before I go to work at 6am. I do this because if I wait until I get home, there will be too many distractions that prevent me from doing it. On weekends, I am usually up by 6am to run or cycle. I have inspired many people, including my wife, to take up couch to 5K and I have been inspired by people who I meet at events such as a man missing a leg who ran an olympic and a spint triathlon with me. The fact that he can do it makes me want to excel.

    I ran the same 5K as my fisrt exactly one year from the time I started running and completed it in 25:15 which was nearly a 15 minute time improvement in 1 year. I'm proud of this.


    People no longer doubt that I will run the ironman - so I guess pigs really can fly., or in thins case, former pigs can run, cycle and swim. Most people are cheering me on. I am a firm believer that if you set your mind to something, barring some physical reason why you can't do it, you can do anything. I have also discovered that the human body is capable of so much more than you can fathom if you have the mental fortitude to push past the artificial limits that your brain places on it.


    Once I achieve my goal of running the ironman, I've already decided to start working on ultra marathons and trail running. The harder it sounds or the more challenging it is, the more appealing it is to me.


    Attached are two photos. The first shows me at the 2012 Penguin Plunge in Ottawa Illinois on January 7, 2012. The guys I worked with said I would never jump in the freezing water. This should've been their first indication that I could do anything I set my mind to.


    The second photo was taken during the July 21 half ironman in Racine Wisconsin.

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