I was an obese teenager! There, I said it. It’s hard for me to admit but for a better part of 7 years of my life I battled the war on bulge. At the age of 14, at a height of 5 feet 6 inches, I had a 38” waist and tipped the scale at nearly 200 pounds. According to the Body Mass Index I was morbidly obese. How did I get there? Well, that was the easy part. Like many kids, I spent much of my days from the ages of 8 to 15 playing video games, watching TV and eating whatever I wanted. I wasn’t healthy, and worst of all, I wasn’t educated on what I was doing to my body both inside and out.
Along with some of the health complications I bore, one of the hardest things to deal with as an obese teenager were the stigmas that come with being overweight. Children are mean, but teenagers are cruel. I lived with constant ridicule from my peers, overwhelmed with embarrassment when changing for gym class, and dealing with the snickering of children I’d pass in the playground were just a few of the scenes that I replay in my mind when I think back to my early years. I never wore shorts in the summertime and I always wore baggy clothing in trying to camouflage my protruding belly. At the age of 14, one Sunday morning, I looked at myself in the mirror. Thoughts of suicide and self-loathing filled me and I broke down sobbing. With blood-shot eyes and a tear-soaked tee-shirt, I thought “enough is enough!” and that was it — and I’ve never looked back. From that point on my life changed forever. The secret was the empowerment in realizing and accepting I was in complete control of me. Through self-education on nutrition, health and fitness I learned what I needed to do; I started to mountain bike daily, joined a gym and did little, daily things that focused on improving my overall health and well-being.
I’ve never gone back to that place, but I don’t forget what it was like. It helps me relate with those people who face weight challenges. I know how it feels to have people stare at you; I know what it’s like having to say “no” to the summer social and pool parties; I know what it’s like when out of breath after walking up a flight of stairs or the difficulty with simple tasks like tying my shoes – it’s the little things that seem the hardest to do… but never forget, you’re not alone.
My passion is to engage and challenge people in living healthy, more active lifestyles. With increasing obesity rates and a lack of focus and education on preventive medicine, our country is facing a health epidemic. The solution starts with parents modeling a healthy active lifestyle for their children to follow. Everyone needs inspiration to change and someone to hold them accountable to their fitness goals. It’s my promise to offer inspiration, education, equipment and training – specifically supporting families – so that childhood obesity is no longer an issue in our country.
Remember, with every waking moment there exists an opportunity to make a lifelong change that can impact not only your life, but the lives of those around you. It’s with that in mind that I do what I do. Through education and support, I’m committed to helping both the young and old of today learn the benefits of healthy, active living. Together, childhood obesity will no longer be an issue facing our world.
To get a little sense for who I am, here’s an interview I did with the Whole Food Project: