Friday, February 8, 2013

The response has been overwhelming!

I put this photo up a couple weeks ago because of a discussion I was having where I was told "what do you know about being fat?! You're this fit, training-monster triathlete!" response, "you have NO idea what you're talking about...let me show you this picture".

Then the conversation changes in tone and I get "oh my were FAT!". Yes, yes I was. Most people either know me as the skinny kid in high school and college or the fit guy you see today but very few know the "fat guy" you see in the picture. That wasn't by accident my friends. That picture of me on the left, taken at my heaviest - 245lbs with a 40 inch waste (yes, FORTY inch waist), is the only one I know of. That time was spent "hiding" from family, friends, life...I was hiding from almost everything but food. I refused to "see" myself. It wasn't until I saw that picture, and realized I was going to need to go up a size in jeans, that the shocking realization sat in that I was a mess.

 What's funny is the even people I work with everyday don't even remember that I was that big now. The change you see in that picture did not come quickly nor without hard work. I went out at bought a weight set for my home because I was ashamed to be "that guy" in the gym... lifting small weight and being out of breath with every effort. There were lots of hours spent on a bike trainer in the dark, watching the Tour de France on DVD, literally sweating my ass of. I spent many months on the bike because my ankles, knees and back (all broken and/or repaired through time) couldn't handle the shock of running at that weight. I started walking, then jogging, then running...then running fast :) It was a slow progression that I had to focus on. Then there was my relationship with food. It was an unhealthy one that I had to train myself to get over. That has been just as much of a struggle as getting and keeping the weight off. 

I will be honest, whenever I see myself in the mirror or pictures I still identify with the guy on the left. My friend Donna calls it FFG (former fat guy) syndrome and the world has piped in that I suffer from BDD (body dysmorphic disorder). I train and race very hard (sometimes too much so) because fear ever turning back into "that guy". It is not easy and whatever I do, rest days I take or food I eat always comes with that nagging voice in the back of my head..."will this make you fat". But...I'll be the first one to say that the only way to conquer your demons is from within and I've worked hard to come to grips with the athletic guy I've become.

What amazes me is the response I've gotten from friends (some I haven't heard from in years), coworkers and strangers alike in response to that picture. From people telling me they've followed my transformation over the years, to those that share their own stories and ask for any tips/guidance/advice I can provide to a number of people who've told me that my story is inspirational and knowing the work I went through to get where I am today is just what they needed to hear to get back in the gym. I don't know about being inspirational but I have always said that if I can drag my broken, fat ass off the couch and train that same ass off to be a competitive age-grouper, multi-sport athlete...ANYONE can! I owe a huge thanks to Chris at Polar USA. He and that company's products have been instrumental in my "transformation"!

By no means am I done! I have 2 Half Ironman events I'll be racing this year and I hope to accomplish a lifelong goal of competing in an Ironman event (hopefully at Kona...fingers crossed). Then maybe I can have that piece of chocolate cake. Sweat on my friends...sweat on!