Article By: Tiffany Willis
Tiffany is a Bariatric Coach, Bariatric Patient Advocate, and Co-Host of the Life After Fat Pants Podcast. After losing 349 pounds in just 18 months following bariatric surgery in 2012, Tiffany has dedicated her life's work to helping those suffering from morbid obesity disease.
As a child, I was always the slow poke; the last one across the finish line, and the last to be picked for any team sports. From my social life to sports, being heavy weighed me down. As I grew up, my weight issues continued to escalate. It wasn’t that I didn’t have family encouraging me otherwise. I remember my parents buying matching running shoes for my siblings and me. But as the years went by, and the weight piled on, I found myself less and less comfortable with physical activity and more and more comfortable hitting the drive-thru at Taco Bueno.
After weight loss surgery, I knew that I had to do something to keep this weight off and continue my journey of being healthy. Moving beyond the confines of the gym helped me hold myself accountable. Races have been a way for me to strive to reach a goal and finally celebrate crossing the finish lines. Plus, with so much variety, I’m finding that races encourage me to cross-train in ways I would have never imagined. Recently, I competed in and completed my first Tough Mudder Challenge — an obstacle course event that promotes teamwork. At the end of the course, there was a 4-story tall climbing net. I was expected to scale this net. Already exhausted and covered in mud, I doubted my own ability. Just about when I was considering giving up, a group of strangers reached out to me and said, “C’mon, you are with us.” I used their legs like a ladder and off I went up and, eventually, over the giant wall. When I got on the other side, it was all high fives and laughter. For me, it might as well have been an Olympic gold medal, because I felt like a total champion.
The point is exercise is a win-win. It makes us feel good mentally and physically. For me, getting creative and having lots of variety helps me stay on track with my lifelong goals of building muscle, strength, and cardio-vascular wellness. These days, walking my dogs isn’t a taxing sport like it used to be. Instead, it’s what I do for relaxation. My body has changed, and I am capable of things I never considered before. That’s the greatest gift of weight loss — the confidence. And, just like the little engine from childhood storybooks, I think I can — has become my new personal motto.