You never know who you’ll end up running with when participating in a marathon event. Everyone has a story behind his or her motivation for running a marathon. For Barry Brokaw, it was the motivation to change his body from obese to fit.
Brokaw, a 43-year-old nurse from Wisconsin, like a growing percentage of Americans, was once obese. He began running during the 1990s while serving in the military. However, he admitted to the Grand Forks Herald that he had an “on and off again” relationship with running, and it was something he never really enjoyed or loved doing.
Nevertheless, in 2008, he found a reason to motivate himself and change his life forever. His weight had spiraled so far out of control that he was no longer able to enjoy time with his young daughter, Alexa. He repeatedly fell short of breath while doing simple things like pulling her in a wagon. Brokaw actually had no idea how much he truly weighed since a standard scale, which measures up to 400 pounds, could no longer hold him.
Brokaw’s newly found motivation to become a healthier father for his daughter led him to a StairMaster, which at first he could only endure for 10 minutes. His first challenge was to achieve a manageable weight for running. “I thought I was going to pass out, but I knew the first two or three weeks would hurt really bad, and then it would get easier,” Brokaw commented in an interview with Runner’s World.
He was no stranger to the weight-loss and weight-gain roller coaster, and he knew the first weeks would be the worst in his long journey. He noted in media reports that he was, “good at losing weight but not at keeping it off.” This is an unfortunate yet common theme among many Americans as they battle obesity.
After two lengthy and challenging years, Brokaw began to shed the pounds, and he ran a 3:57 at the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota, weighing 205 pounds. He continued to push his limits and worked harder, adding mileage and shedding running minutes, as well as pounds.
Brokaw’s dedication put him within reach of the Boston Marathon. He had never intended on running the Boston Marathon, but due to the progress he had made, it became an attainable goal. He hired a running coach and ran a 3:05 at the Last Chance BQ2 Marathon in Chicago. Brokaw surpassed many goals on his path to wellness, and this month he received confirmation of his acceptance into the 2016 Boston Marathon.
“That first 10-minute workout on the StairMaster was way, way harder than running 3:05,” Brokaw said in the Runner’s World interview. “When I look at pictures of myself when I weighed 400-plus pounds, I was so miserable. Back then, I knew about running, and I knew about Boston. I used to think, am I really going to be this big the rest of my life. To think about where I started, getting into Boston is one of the most exciting moments of my life.”
Barry Brokaw used his motivation of wanting to be a healthy father for his daughter and turned himself around. This is most certainly a call to action for anyone struggling with weight management. Obesity is a growing epidemic in the United States, with one-third, over 78 million adults considered obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
At over 400 pounds, Brokaw could have stepped off that StairMaster after 10 minutes and called it quits, leaving himself at high risk for diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, among other chronic illnesses associated with obesity. It was his determination to stick to his weight-loss goals that kept him logging in the miles, and which eventually gained him acceptance into the Boston Marathon.
A study published in Primary Care: Clinics in Office Practice (2009) found, “Potentially, an individual exercise prescription can become one of the most important components of an obesity treatment program, along with an appropriate diet.” Choose a single exercise that works best for you, and couple it with a move to a more nutritious diet, and you will begin your own journey to an obesity-free life. Motivate yourself today and take a stand against obesity. After all, if a 400-pound man can go from sofa to Boston Marathon, then so can you.
In the midst of the obesity epidemic, how do you make healthy choices and control your weight?
Stephen Seifert is a writer, professor, adventurer and a health & fitness guru. His flare for travel and outdoor adventure allows him to enjoy culture and traditions different than his own. A healthy diet, routine fitness and constant mental development is the cornerstone to Stephen’s life.