About three years ago, SOWI athlete Christopher Weems of the Wausau Metro agency decided to make a big change. Weems found himself at a crossroads and wanted to lose weight.
“You either change something or you keep it the same,” Weems said. “I was tired of feeling bad so I started walking around the city of Wausau.”
After eight months of walking every single day, Weems lost an astonishing 80 pounds. Even extreme weather couldn’t hold him back. “It took a lot of effort at times. There were some 40-below days. But it was worth it,” Weems said. “I’m 34 but I don’t feel 34. I feel like I’m 25. I have natural energy and I’m happier now.”
“Special Olympics helped motivate me to get healthier. I wanted to give everything I could for my teammates and compete as best I could.”
While Weems was primarily motivated to lose weight to feel better and have more energy, he also had his performance in Special Olympics in mind. Weems has been a highly involved SOWI athlete for 10 years, competing in sports as varied as basketball, football, soccer and bocce. He wanted to lose the weight for himself but also his teammates at Wausau Metro. “Special Olympics helped motivate me to get healthier. I wanted to give everything I could for my teammates and compete as best I could,” Weems said.
And his transformation has definitely helped him on the field. His endurance has become so impressive that his coach now calls him the energizer bunny. Even more importantly, Weems is much less susceptible to asthma attacks now. He hardly ever has to use his inhaler and he rarely feels winded in even the most endurance-pushing of competitions.
This year’s State Summer Games at UW-Stevens Point really helped drive home how much Weems’ endurance has improved these last few years and how much it helps his team. Wausau Metro’s soccer team swept their division en route to a gold medal and Weems’ endurance on defense was a big contributor to their success. In previous years Weems would have to take lots of breaks during games. This year, he was able to stay on the field much longer and remain strong and fast throughout the games.
“It’s gonna take time. But if it’s a goal of yours and you stay committed and follow through, you can do it.”
As Weems has moved past the initial stage of weight loss, he’s evolved in how he stays healthy too. While he lost his weight largely by walking, he’s now moved onto cross training. He mixes in core workouts, basketball and football with his walking regimen. He’s also learned how to have a much healthier diet. Weems’ main dietary changes that he credits with helping him keep the weight off are not eating after 7 p.m. and controlling portions, which he says SOWI’s Healthy Athletes helped instill in him. He also reduced his soda and fast food consumption.
Earlier this month, Weems attended the Family Health Forum at the Outdoor Sports Tournament in Waukesha. There he learned more about how to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into a balanced diet and he’s already put some of those lessons into practice.
His commitment to a healthy lifestyle even has his doctor impressed. “My doctor said, ‘you keep rocking the world,'” Weems said.
Weems also says that commitment is a crucial part of achieving your weight loss goal and he hopes that he can be an inspiration to other SOWI athletes who want to lose weight and adopt a healthier lifestyle.
“It’s gonna take time. But if it’s a goal of yours and you stay committed and follow through, you can do it,” Weems said.