Over the past several years since I started living a healthier life I've received many compliments. Phrases like "You look great/healthy", "You're amazing", "You're truly inspiring". Of course I love hearing that stuff. It's a bit hard to believe that those words would be directed at me. For so many years I thought of myself as the Fat Guy that always had something self-deprecating to say about myself. I felt I was destined to remain heavy and unhealthy. I would live out my life slowly deteriorating and probably die in my 60's (if I made it that long)
But that's not what happened. I was blessed to work at a place that had health insurance that covered bariatric surgery and I actually had the procedure. And I'm happy to say, I've made the most of it. Overall, I'm happier and healthier than I've ever been. I lost a lot of weight and now I'm doing things fitness wise that I never dreamed. But there's a fine line between bragging about my accomplishments and being proud of them. Obviously I'm proud of what I've done and how I live my life but I also don't want to "push" my lifestyle on others. When people engage me in conversation about my health or running I'm happy to talk about it. Because I think it gets them thinking about their own health and how they may be able to improve it. But I also don't want every conversation with me focused about me and my health. I love learning about other people's lives and sharing opinion/stories.
What's kind of stuck with me is when people tell me "you're inspirational". When I hear that I think, maybe my story and lifestyle can inspire others? Maybe hearing my story will inspire someone to take a walk that day (which happened). Or feel better and optimistic about their upcoming weight loss surgery (which is happening). Or be that last little kick that inspires someone to run a 5k (the reporter who wrote the story in the SLO Tribune told me he was thinking about doing a 5k and when he met me he committed to it. He actually beat me in the race!)
So now I navigate how I want to proceed at helping others. Am I this super-altruistic person with no ego that just wants to do good? Not quite. I LOVE the feeling of making even a small difference in someone's life. And the positive attention and recognition is great. But I also feel I have a unique story and sharing it with the world may be an example to some. And that may lead to folks leading a healthier and happier life. And that's kind of what we all want, right?
In July, Annette (my girlfriend) and I will be going to the Obesity Action Coalition "Your Weight Matters" annual conference in Denver. There will be thought leaders, doctors, and people affected by obesity there. My main objectives are to learn and have fun. I'm also looking to network and get feedback on how to best spread my message and help others. And I'll be running a Half-Marathon too which I'm excited about. My first out of state race!
We also plan on starting a "Bariatric Runner" podcast. As far as I can tell, there's not a lot of content out there, podcast or otherwise, that focus specifically on bariatric athletes. But I know there are A LOT of bariatric athletes out there. Hopefully it will find an audience and people will enjoy it and get some good information/entertainment out of it. There are many challenges to being a weight loss surgery athlete that the average person doesn't know about. This platform will give me an opportunity to dive into those.
So, that's the plan. To stay healthy and start branching out a bit more. I'll have to manage my time a better but that's ok. I need make sure I keep up with my eating and exercise. I'm on a lifelong health journey that God-willing will last another 50-60 years.