Transformation, a noun, meaning “a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.” When I think of transformation or to transform, I think of my childhood love for Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots in the Transformer series. I remember transforming this large action figure from a red and blue tractor trailer to a great warrior, equipped with all kinds of armor and a huge gun. I loved that transformer and can still hear the noises I would make with my mouth as I twisted and turned the different components, trying to imitate the sounds those parts made as they moved on the “real” Optimus Prime.
Pretend transformation is easy. Actual transformation is not.
I’ve been thinking about writing this post for quite a while but just couldn’t decide on the best time. My dilemma has been whether I should have shared it before I turned 40, after my latest triathlon, or even wait until the end of the year.
Now’s the time; I’m feeling it. For one, it’s been a while since my last blog post and two, I’ve had many people, friends and family, make comments about how much weight I’ve lost saying, “Dang Wells, don’t turn sideways, we may not be able to see you.”
The purpose of this post isn’t to gloat about how much weight I’ve lost or to show off my new physique. I’m also not implying that I have become this great Optimus Prime-type warrior through my transformation. In fact, my reasoning for sharing this is quite the opposite.
I am writing about transformation because sharing my journey could possibly inspire others to seek a positive transformation themselves, whether it’s physically, emotionally or mentally. The transformation story I’m sharing will seem to be mostly physical, but there is no hiding the fact that my emotional and mental transformation has been paramount as well.
Shortly after the first of the year, I found myself in a dark place. It was supposed to be a new year, a time for a new start, new beginnings, a new job. Yet, there I was separated from my marriage, struggling with loneliness, probably some depression, and living in an eerily quiet apartment. For the first time in my life, I sat at a bar with people I didn’t know, watching the Super Bowl.
A bar or casino could’ve been where I ended up most evenings after work but I knew my weaknesses and thankfully instead chose to belly up to the treadmill and the bench press machines at the gym.
Back in December, I stood on a scale that read 224.4 lbs, the most I had ever weighed. That was an eye-opening moment for me. Looking down, I was ashamed that I could grab a hand full of belly fat in both hands. I didn’t really feel overweight, but I was. I guess I just “carried it well,” as some would say.
Initiating a workout regimen was very tough, but once I started, I loved it. It had been a while since I’d lifted weights and early on, I found it very difficult to even run a couple miles without stopping to walk. I knew I had it in me though and I kept going, digging deep to stay committed. I was determined to get back in shape, both physically and mentally.
Weeks of going to the gym and getting up early to run passed yet I still wasn’t seeing much physical improvements from the effort. I would drag myself out of bed and kept going to the gym daily, sometimes even two and three times a day. I would lift weights, run the trails at a nearby lake, and sometimes even go back to the lake later in the evening to walk. My dedication and commitment was confirmed when the employees at my gym would ask, “So, will we see you here again later?”
Eventually, the exercising started getting easier. I would stay on the bike longer, lift heavier weights and run faster. Feeling stronger was great, but with all that hard work and effort, I still had that dang innertube around my waist.
By the time May rolled around I was down to 210 pounds. I was feeling good and it was then I decided to start training for triathlons again. Swimming, biking, running and lifting once, sometimes twice a day, six days a week, became the norm for me. I was thoroughly enjoying the training. My motivation to get stronger and faster kept growing like that proverbial snowball rolling down the hill, growing larger and larger with every turn.
June and July were full of early morning runs, runs that ended with incredible sunrises over Lake Norman and Lake Junaluska. I was running longer and faster. My 5k pace had dropped from 10-minutes per mile to under 8-minutes per mile. I was mixing in long swims and bike workouts throughout each week to get ready for the Lake Lure Triathlon in North Carolina and the Nation’s Triathlon in Washington, DC.
In late July, I was not only beginning to shed fat, but I was getting much faster on my runs and swimming faster than I’d ever swam before. My weight had shrunk down to 188 pounds; I was losing weight in my sleep it seemed. I haven’t weighed 188 pounds since high school and that amount of weight loss worried me a little. I had to reevaluate my diet to ensure I was getting enough calories and carbs to fuel my training.
Ironically, a good friend had just shared some great recipes. She suggested ways to incorporate healthy carbs, like whole grain pastas and sautéed vegetables, into my diet. I was already getting plenty of proteins, but never realized the amount of carbohydrates I needed to fuel my workouts. The shift in my diet was a huge component of my overall training plan.
The hard work and training throughout the summer paid off tremendously. I felt very good about how I performed and my successes in the Lake Lure Triathlon and The Nation’s Triathlon, finishing 67th out of 491 racers in DC. These were great events and I look forward to competing in them again next year.
So, here it is, October 4th and my weight is 185.6 pounds, down 38.8 pounds since December 31, 2016. I am at, or very close to, my “normal” weight for training and competing in triathlons. I am so excited about continuing to train and planning my 2018 race schedule. I am ready and I feel fantastic.
I also feel great mentally and emotionally and am certain the training I put in this year has a lot to do with that transformation.
Yes, I was in a dark place earlier this year, struggling to be confident in myself and just being me, but all of that has changed and for that, I am so grateful. I’m no longer in that dark place or scared of what the future has in store for me and my three amazing children.
I underwent a tremendous physical transformation this year, but I’m most proud of where my transformation has taken me mentally and emotionally.
I have not transformed into anyone different, I’ve just transformed into myself.