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Running and triathlon helped a New Jersey age-grouper lose more than 200 pounds and regain control over his life.
In June 2007, Rick Nisbet tipped the scales at 389 pounds and had become as unhappy as he was unhealthy. “I was a heart attack waiting to happen,” he says.
The Clifton, N.J., resident’s low point came at his work’s annual Christmas party, when a quarter-mile walk between the chartered bus and a docked boat for the party left Nisbet huffing and puffing—his back was killing him and his heart felt like it was going to jump out of his chest.
After a family member was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, his wife, who was overweight as well, convinced him they both needed to turn their lives around.
So they signed up for a weight-loss program. Through it, Nisbet learned healthy eating habits, portion control, planning and how making small changes can make a big difference.
He added exercise into his weight-loss routine, and after losing his first 100 pounds, Nisbet got the “itch” to run. Even though he’d been very active when he was younger, his activity level had decreased as his weight increased. He planned to run his first 5K, and two months later, when he crossed the finish line, “I threw my hands up like I won the New York City Marathon,” he says. “I found my new passion as an endurance athlete.”
He worked up to a marathon over the years and ended up losing a total of 213 pounds, which he’s kept off for six years. The 46-year-old is now holding steady at 176 pounds, and his outlook has forever changed. “As I was losing weight, a whole new world was opening for me,” he says. “I was becoming a happier person, people were treating me better, and I was getting control over a certain portion of my life.”
Nisbet says he rediscovered his “inner athlete” through running—it brought out his competitive side, and he loved seeing his times get faster. “It was like a drug!” he says.
He initially started doing triathlon to bridge the gap between the spring and fall running seasons, but now, he says, they’re a way of life. “Triathlons are playing a big part in keeping the weight off,” he says. He loves how diverse multisport athletes are in both body type and mindset, and he’s enjoying the variety and challenge of balancing three disciplines.
“When I was just doing half-marathons and marathons, I always got caught up with just getting my miles in,” Nisbet says. “Triathlons provide new challenges.”
After racing his first full season of triathlon, he’s signed up for his first half-Ironman at 70.3 Atlantic City. He’s surprised even himself with how far he’s come. “I found out during my journey that I can achieve anything,” he says. “I also get a charge off of proving people wrong.”
A Mind for Success
Nisbet offers this advice to newbies:
1. Set small, attainable goals. “This will give you a sense of accomplishment. Success in the short term will give you the confidence to achieve long-term success.”
2. Embrace change. “Life is a book—some chapters are big and some small. You write the chapters. Close the chapter on the old you and open a new one of the healthier you.”
3. Be patient. “Don’t expect to hit it out of the park—it’s a process, just like everything else. It is a lifestyle, just like eating healthy. They work hand in hand.”
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. “There are millions of people that will be willing to help. It is one big community.”