Finalists / Merton W

Merton W.

22.80% weight loss, 56.5 lbs.*

*Results not typical

INSPIRED BY TRAGEDY! “C’mon, let’s go, let’s go, man. Dad was burned in a fire!!!” I still remember those words of my teary-eyed brother while he beat on my seventh period class window on June 8, 1984, like it was yesterday. It was a Friday and we were supposed to see the movie Beat Street, but instead that was the day our beautiful home burned down. And the man who dropped me at school that morning was in a hospital bed burned so badly, I couldn’t recognize him. They said he wouldn’t make it, but he was determined to live for his family. Dad fought hard for his life and lasted almost 2 months before finally succumbing to death at the age of 45. Our family was devastated!! We moved to Florida a year later.

Ironically, today I’m 45 and just recently escaped a fire incident where I live. I still don’t know how I survived. It felt like my game was supposed to be over, but I got an extended play. The incident brought back all the memories from 1984. The fire smell and all. Post-traumatic stress triggered a cycle of depression which makes me overeat, which makes me gain weight, which gets me more depressed, which makes me eat more, and so on. My life was in a rut!! Doom and Gloom!! Overweight. I needed to get my life back!!

CHANGE OF A LIFETIME. Joining Life Time was a big step in the right direction. The club was amazing and the staff was friendly. They sat me down and discussed my weight loss goals and what to eat. They gave me a meal plan and would follow up to see how I was doing. When I stuck to the foods they told me and exercised daily, the weight would drop off. I started to look and feel much better about myself. By the end of the Challenge, I was 56 lbs lighter. After I weighed out, I said, OK, I’ll treat myself to whatever I want,” but the weird thing is I didn’t have a desire for junk food anymore. I got this fruit punch drink and said, ”I’ll at least indulge in some sugar,” but when I drank it, I got sick. It’s like my body was saying, “Bro, what are you doing!! We spent 2 months getting away from this and now you’re bringing us back to this junk!!” I felt guilty. I switched the drink to mineral water and it felt so good! Then it hit me. My system has been retrained. I’m healthy again. Junk foods are like foreign to me. I got my life back. I’m no longer depressed. I like how I look and feel. What a change!

OBSTACLES. A week before the Challenge, I could barely walk. My sciatica nerve sent a sharp pain down my back. I went to a chiropractor who snapped a lot of joints in place, but my back pain still persisted. I was ready to give up. In desperation I tried a bunch of stretching exercises for sciatica, and right before the Challenge started, the pain was gone. Game on!! Three days into the Challenge, I got these bruises on the bottom of my feet that got so tender, it was hard to walk, let alone run. I thought I was done. After stuffing my running shoes with about 5 insole cushions on each foot, the pain level went from an 8 to a 3. A pain level of 3 I will live with. Game on!! But then the real challenge came. My mom had a stroke in one eye and macular edema. She could barely see. I was ripped emotionally. I went to the club one day and just sat in my car weeping. I can’t do this with Mom going through this. But then I thought, quitting won’t help. Why not do this to inspire Mom! Game on!!! And when all the obstacles came after that, instead of viewing them as a reason to quit, I viewed them as another reason why I had to do this. The obstacles culminated with my uncle dying on Dec. 19.

WOW! A SMALL REGRET. If I win this Challenge, it would be a great honor and the exclamation point on one of the most memorable 2 months of my life. But I must admit, I have a small regret of not being able to play out this scene in my mind. You see, I bust into Dad’s room excited, saying, “Guess what?” Pops says, “What man, why are you bothering me? I’m watching the ballgame.” (Pops was grumpy.) I say, “I won the Life Time Challenge. Can you believe it?” He gets up and gets in my face and just glares in my face for 10 seconds, but even his toughest glare couldn’t hide the pride and happiness I know he feels inside. But determined not to show that side in a jovial way, he responds,”SO!!” (lol.)

But let me take that back. I would say, “Dad, today you won the Challenge! You! For these 2 months and all my life, through all my pain, my sorrow, my grief, my tears, my failures, my downfalls, I looked to your example. I kept fighting. I didn’t quit and, as a result, I made it through. So Dad, you’re the real winner today!” At one time, my life felt like doom. My future appeared as one, thick gloom. My reasons to quit, they felt so legit. But I made the commitment to get physically fit. So before my life is sealed with the end, my book’s being written, I’m holding a pen. So whatever I write, I know others will look. I hope you’re inspired from reading my story. Well, as for this chapter, it’s almost complete. I hope in the end, I accomplish my feat. See, we all have a desire to look up and admire. So I perspired to inspire before I expire!