- Posted December 31, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments
From Couch Potato to Marathoner
After graduating high school, I found an easy desk job. I spent most of my day sitting on my bottom and stuffing my face with fast food and vending machine snacks. I met my wife at my job, and after dating 3 years we got married. We didn’t go on many quality dates, most of the time we just went out to eat or stayed at home on the couch and watched tv. I didn’t like going out because I was embarrassed to be seen, and it was difficult to find places where I could fit. I couldn’t squeeze into the seats at the movie theater, so dates at the movies were few and far between. When we dined out, we always had to request a table since I could not fit into the booths. When I flew home from visiting my grandparents, I had to buy a second seat because I was a “passenger of size” and could not safely fit into one seat without encroaching on the other passengers seats. I stressed out easily, was often anxious to the point of being sick, and was overwhelmed by my size. I was an emotional eater, and I regularly binged. My weight and my health were spiraling out of control.
During March 2012 I started having really bad chest pains. Scared to death of what could be wrong, I went to the doctor. The pains were nothing serious at the time, but my weight was- I tipped the scales at 461.2 pounds. The doctor told me if I didn’t do something drastic, I would die young. At the time, my wife was in nursing school full-time and not working, so I was the sole provider. I was 26 years old, my wife was 27, and I had already been denied for life insurance twice because of my weight. I had been on blood pressure medicine since my early 20’s, and my health was slowly starting to get worse. If I didn’t do something, and do it quickly, the possibility of me dying young and leaving her a young widow was a very real possibility. The thought of dying and leaving her alone and with a mountain of bills was unbearable, and with that, I finally found my motivation.
I realized on March 22, 2012, that my unhealthy lifestyle was not only affecting me, it was affecting my wife. I was being selfish and inconsiderate by continuing the habits that contributed to my morbid obesity. I was cheating years off of my life, but more importantly, I was cheating her of years off of our marriage. That morning I woke up with a new mindset- I was going to change my lifestyle so I could spend many more quality years with her. I joined the gym next door to my job. I started tracking everything I ate. I became committed to losing the weight and doing it all naturally, without the use of surgery or weight-loss medicine. When I started, I set a goal to lose half of my body weight- 231 pounds- over a 3 year period. I reminded myself that I didn’t put the weight on overnight, so it wasn’t going to come off overnight. Time and again I had to tell myself- “Slow and steady, slow and steady.” A month after my first appointment, I followed up with my doctor. I was surprised when I stepped on the scales and I had already lost 25 pounds. Another month went by, and another 20 pounds came off. After the third follow-up, I had lost 75 pounds and the doctor told me, “You don’t have to keep following up with me since you’ve figured out what to do. That is, unless you just want to keep paying me for weighing you and telling you keep up the good work.” That was one of the biggest compliments I had received, and I knew then and there that I really could continue with the weight loss and finally live a healthier life.
As I continued to lose weight, I started to challenge myself athletically. I started running and fell in love with it. Running was a way to help me stay healthy and to keep losing the weight, and it was also a way to keep challenging myself and to stay motivated. When I started running, I set goals to run certain races by certain dates. I ran my first 5K in September 2012 after having lost 110 pounds. It was truly an amazing feeling when I crossed that finish line, regardless of how slow I had ran. My wife and my 5 siblings were all there to cheer me on that day, with one of my sisters even running it with me. I ran my first 10K a few months later in January 2013; my first half-marathon in February 2013; and my first full-marathon in April 2013. As I crossed the finish line of my first full-marathon, my eyes welled up with tears as I was overwhelmed with what I had just accomplished. If you had asked me a year before if I would ever be running a marathon, I would have laughed. And yet there I was, having just accomplished the biggest, most challenging obstacle I had ever set out to do...with my wife there cheering me on the entire time. The smile on her face and hearing her say, “I’m so proud of you” as I finished made all the sweat, tears, and pains worth it.
I kept challenging myself with my running, and I ended up surpassing every running goal I set. I ended 2012 having ran 7 5Ks in a 4 month period. I’m ending 2013 having ran 4 5Ks, 4 10Ks, 7 half-marathons, and 3 full-marathons. I put nearly 1000 running miles in this year, and that was after being sidelined for 6 weeks with an injury. I’m currently training for my first ultra marathon, and I have hopes to run my first 50 mile race by the end of 2014.
Running has helped me to not only reach my weight-loss goal, but to surpass it. 18 months to the day after starting my journey, I had lost 235 pounds, more than half of my original body weight. I tipped the scales that day at 225 pounds- the last time I weighed that much I was 12 years old!
The last 2 years has taught me so much about myself, and really changed me for the better. I’m pursuing a degree in health and physical education, and I’m working on getting my personal training certification. My calling in life is to help others who struggle with their weight, because I’ve experienced it.
In addition to surpassing my weight-loss goal, I’ve come off of my blood pressure medicine, I’ve been approved for life insurance, and I’m no longer anxious about anything. I enjoy living life to the fullest with my wife, and I love being able to take her out to dinner and a movie- without any special accommodations for me. We recently flew together, and for the first time I did not have to purchase an additional seat for me or request a seat belt extender. She’s woken up at 4am on multiple occassions for races I’ve been in, she’s waited hours in the cold for me to finish running dozens of miles, and she’s even proudly placed my finisher’s medal around my neck when I’ve finished. My wife has been by my side through all the highs and lows in my life, encouraging me when I was at rock bottom, and cheering me on when I was succeeding. She’s been my greatest source of strength, my biggest cheerleader, and my motivation to lose the weight. I can’t wait to spend many more quality years with her!