My name is Marty and I am a Bariathlete. It feels so good just to be able to say that, because for so many years, being an athlete just seemed so far out of reach.
I had bariatric surgery three and a half years ago. Prior to the surgery I was 320 lbs, and exercise had not part of my life in a very long time. This was partly due to my weight and partly due to lifelong back problems. I was never a great athlete, always middle of the road, but I enjoyed it, especially playing basketball. In my twenties, I took up running. I was never very fast – 10 minute miles were generally the norm, but eventually my weight and health began to conspire against me.
During the second half of the 80s, I started doing triathlons because my brother was doing them and they looked like fun. I never had any training or background in any of the three triathlon disciplines, but I managed to slog my way through. I was still slow, but it always felt great to cross the finish line and earn the right to wear the race t-shirt. But again my weight was a challenge. I did many of those races at over 250 pounds, and that took a toll.
I gave up triathlons in 1990 – trying to work full-time and raise a family left little time for training. Once the exercise stopped, my weight gain continued. Over the course of the next 20 years, I had two spinal surgeries and my weight reached its peak. I tried everything to take the weight off over the years, but was never successful. I also had reached that point where I was moving into so many high risk areas with my health -prediabetes, potential for high blood pressure, etc. I was fortunate enough to have a doctor who suggested that maybe it was time to look at alternatives. She signed me up for an introduction to bariatric surgery and after a lot of research I chose to have a gastric bypass. It changed my life. I dropped a ton of weight and began to feel that maybe I could use my body again. It took a couple of more spinal surgeries, but I finally got to the point where I was beginning to feel more active again.
In the fall of 2012, I saw a posting at my local YMCA for a triathlon club that would be starting up in late February of 2013. I had always talked about wanting to do triathlons again, but never followed through. But after talking to someone at the Y about it, I took the plunge. And I’m so glad I did. So far this season I have done three triathlons of various sprint distances and hope to do two or three more before the year is over. I am still slow from such a long layoff, but I am getting stronger every day and loving every minute of it!
One of the things I quickly realized is that I had no idea how to fuel my post-bariatric body for training and racing. Everything seemed oriented towards people with ordinary eating capabilities, but I couldn’t find anything that could tell me how to fuel a body dependent on a high protein, low sugar diet. After a lot of Google searches I came upon the bariathletes.com site. I got in touch with Lea and realized that she and her program were just what I needed. I had needed to get back to a better eating plan, and she has provided me not only with that, but with one that specifically allows me to fuel my body in way that supports my training with the right fuel at the right time. In the past few weeks since I started using the eating and training plans she has developed for me, I can already feel the difference. My body has a little more energy, is a little less sore after workouts and is recovering a little faster. I have also lost a few pounds. I fully anticipate that I will continue to improve in each of those areas. I can’t wait to see what my future holds in triathlons. I have no delusions about being a superstar, bur racing at a lighter weight and with more energy that ever before feels great!
Next year, I hope to move up to Olympic distance triathlons. Down the road, a half or full Ironman could happen…who knows?