“After college I continued to eat like a football player but stopped doing any of the working out. . . and my weight skyrocketed to over 400lbs in 2006,” explains Mike Willeford of Lafayette, LA.
At thirty years old, Mike tells us he has dealt with his weight since birth. At age nine he was 126lbs competing in the Junior Olympics for wrestling. He weighed in at 315lbs his senior year. By college he was 340lbs, playing football for McNeese. When his weight finally starting taking its toll on his health, causing blood pressure and liver issues, Mike saw a turning point in his battle with obesity. In May 2009, he underwent gastric bypass surgery.
Running became a tool that not only jumpstarted his weight loss after surgery, but gave him new ways to create a healthy lifestyle. Through his newfound passion of running, Mike made it his goal to run a marathon. After completing the Houston Marathon in 2011, he focused his attention toward triathlons.
He is constantly setting his sights higher and focusing on building healthy habits. When he sets a goal he tells anyone he can to hold himself accountable. He also surrounds himself with people that are training. Mike says, “When you hang around a bunch of amazing people like the Cajun Road Runners and my friends at Geaux Run, you get to hang out with the people you love WHILE running and being healthy.” Mike is currently training for the Redman 70.3 Half Ironman in September.
Though successful, his path to weight loss has never been easy. He still loves food and occasionally overindulges. However because of how running has impacted his life he knows, “anything I screw up and eat is a 10K run away from being history.” To Mike, it’s all about using the running community to kick old habits and gain some healthy habits along the way.
His advice to others seeking to lose weight is not to complicate the process. Be consistent with your workout schedule and make “small strategic changes in habits.” Observe and take advice from successful runners.
Mike is proof that running changes lives. While continuing the healthy path he put himself on, he wants to be open to help others find their way too. Here is a final word from Mike:
“Running has put me in the company of the most amazing people. It has helped me not only conquer my weight, but conquer my life. I am not simply a runner, or a triathlete, but an athlete. I will never allow my size or weight to limit me ever again. If friends call and want to hike Yosemite, or run a race in Colorado, or do any number of physical activities I can do it. Running helped give me back that confidence in myself.”
Through running, Mike conquered obesity. What have you conquered through running?