WELCOME: I built this site to chronicle my 10 month journey from 320 lb “couch potato” to marathoner back in 2009. After I accomplished that goal, my new goal was to continue running marathons (69 as of March 2021) in order to raise money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis, as well as set an example for others that they too can change just as I did.
If you need help please feel free to contact me: Roger@RFME.org.
VIDEO: If you are here to watch the video of my journey that went viral (9 million+ views), here it is. You can watch the other videos I have made by clicking HERE.
LATEST BLOG: Read Below
This is another piece I wrote on Quora.net (a question and answer site), last edited on May 7th, 2021, that now has almost 700,000 views!
Someone posted the question What is that one picture that describes the lowest point in your life? As usual, I started it as a short piece and ended up getting longer and longer…
Who is that person with my wife?
Back in 2006, my wife (Mary) and I attended the wedding of our niece (Lisa) in Boston. I took quite a few pictures, always preferring to be behind the camera instead of in front of it. And because it was a wedding. I joined in the festivities and had my share of drinks.
The next day I was going through the pictures, renaming the files with the names of the people in the pictures, when I stumbled across the above picture of my wife and some guy who I didn’t recognize. As mentioned, I had had a few drinks the day before, but unlike all of the other pictures, was at a complete loss identifying the man in the picture.
In an attempt to unravel the mystery man in the picture, I looked at the pictures immediately before and after, in hopes it would shed some light in helping me identify him.
The picture before (017) was of two of our nieces, followed by the “?” picture” (018 – I cropped the original image) and then (019) my wife and our niece, Lisa. After going back and forth a couple more times, I finally gave up and showed the picture to my wife asking “Who is that guy beside you?”.
At first she thought I was joking, but quickly realized I was serious and reluctantly said three words that kind of brought my world crashing down around me:
I was shocked and had a quick debate in my mind if she could somehow be mistaken. Looking at the picture and focusing on the tie I was wearing (I suffer from Prosopagnosia aka face blindness), I realized and accepted that she was right and it was me. In order to try and save face (no pun intended), I immediately tried to regain my composure, brush it off and did my best to convince her that I was only joking around.
It seemed to work, but in retrospect, I now doubt that she actually bought it and felt bad for me and this discovery. That is the kind (stress on the word “kind”) of person Mary has always been.
As far as who took the picture, she reminded me that my niece Sarah (017) had offered to take our picture after I took her and her sister’s picture and I hesitantly agreed. Like I said, I prefer to be behind the camera instead of in front of it, and in large part, just for this reason:
I have always hated pictures of myself.
Here’s a classic from the 70s (I was 15) that should NEVER have been taken and I should NEVER have kept it and I definitely should NEVER have posted it on the interweb, but I need to keep you interested so you make it to the end. So so many things wrong with this picture and while this would be a good candidate for What is the one picture that describes the lowest point in your life I didn’t really know any better at the time. Frankly, I have always been a pretty happy person and no doubt at the time, felt that I really had it going on, especially being all “dressed to the nines” and such.
The reason I posted the above picture (beyond my hope that it gave you a laugh) is to show that I have been obese my entire life, moving into the “hefty” category starting when I was around 10. There have been so many That’s it, damn it! moments where my eyes were opened, telling myself This time it will be different and will work! and tried in earnest to lose weight, be it a new diet, joining a new health club, Weight Watchers, etc..
Like a broken record, I would lose a few pounds and eventually, after a few days, start my fall off of the diet wagon and at the same time, find excuses why I couldn’t exercise that day. By the end of the week, the plans that started out so optimistic, had been completely derailed. I blamed everything other than myself for it’s failure, eventually moving on to a new approach to weight loss the following week or month.
This cycle continued over and over for approximately 3 decades.
It also helped that I could convince the person staring back at me in the mirror (which was less and less as I gained more and more weight) that I wasn’t “that” heavy. As far as pictures, I justified that it was just a bad picture thanks to a poor angle, lighting or the person taking it.
I don’t know when or where, but at some point my mind decided that my outside perception by others would be determined by my own, more favorable, internal perception of myself.
It’s strange, but even though the scale said 318 and the pants I wore had a 54 inch waist, I would always come back to my belief that I was really only 20–30 pounds overweight. Although illogical and delusional, somehow I could justify these thoughts. To a normal person it doesn’t really make sense, but speaking from my own experience, it did.
And that is why this picture hurt me a little bit…no, it actually hurt me a lotta bit more.
It was around that time (I was 45), that I decided to keep a promise to my wife (I promise that I will go see a doctor when I’m 40…) and finally went to see a doctor about my health. The doctor confirmed that I was as bad as I feared, actually worse, and she reluctantly suggested gastric bypass surgery. Prayers be answered (!) as this was something I had dreamed about for a number of years. To me, it promised an easy fix to a lifelong battle with my weight. I assumed that, unlike actually sticking to a diet and increasing my exercise, it took no discipline on my part other than jumping through a few small hoops (or large ones in my case), attending a mandatory pre-surgery seminar and signing some papers.
Sleep, cut, stitch and cure, all in a day!
Approximately two weeks later, I found myself happily bouncing into a hospital in Boston and sitting down to listen to the mandatory 3 hour info session about the voluntary surgery.
At the beginning, I received all of the positive news that I had anticipated and even more that I hadn’t. But, as required, they also pointed out the few possible negatives of the surgery (3% mortality, possible future internal issues, etc). Long story short, I was surprised to find myself walking out and shaking my head “no”.
The surgery would NOT be my savior
It’s a very long story but after a series of events that happened in one week in May 2008 (I had just turned 47), and even though I hated running and had never really run a mile in my life, decided to run the 2009 Boston Marathon (a race my father had run when I was 7 years old). In the process I could raise money for Cystic Fibrosis, a disease my niece Julia (wow I have lots of nieces!) suffers from and lose some weight. I was hoping for 50 pounds, but honestly I was more concerned about changing my life and finally sticking to a plan that lasted longer than a week.
When I told Mary my latest weight loss scheme, no doubt destined to be added to the list of hundreds of other failed weight loss attempts I had embarked upon since we were married, she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “I think it’s important. If you do, I’ll have a friend at every mile”.
Unlike my other weight loss plan announcements, this time there was something in her reaction and the way she took the news. I saw in her face that it was different, and she later admitted that she was getting more and more concerned about my health.
For some unknown reason, she loved this broken person standing before her, and she wanted to continue living the rest of her life with…me. We hugged and that sealed the commitment I made to her, as well as to my niece Julia.
I HAD 10 MONTHS
Throughout the entire 10 month process, I pushed myself harder than I had ever thought possible. And every single day of those 10 months as I worked out and felt like giving up, I kept repeating the following mantra to myself: If I fail, I have failed her. If I let her down, I have let us down.
So what happened?
This. This happened!
In 10 months, I lost ~125 pounds and went from running 10 yards to running all 26.2 miles of the 2009 Boston Marathon, nonstop. And my life changed forever.
Here I am with my niece Julia at a party my wife threw for me after I finished my marathon. In the background you can see pictures I took every month (on the 7th) and posted on my website to document my weight loss and keep me accountable.
BTW, if there was a Quora question asking “What is the one picture that describes the HIGHEST point in your life?” this would probably be it.
A few days before I ran the race, I made a Cystic Fibrosis fundraising video soliciting donations that I sent to friends and family. A year and half later a friend asked if he could repost and rename the video and I agreed. It ended up going viral with over 9 million views and he called it (embarrassingly) The Most Inspiring Video You Will Ever Watch
And the first picture in the video? The one that started this whole post!
That picture at the start of this story was taken ~13 years ago and below is a recent (Sept 2019) picture of my wife and me. I continue to run marathons (just completed #66 three weeks ago) and every time I cross the finish line I give thanks for the ability to finally change my life.
Thanks for reading and have a nice day (or night).
Help Me. I’ve Been Bad!
Posted on April 26, 2019
The following was written on April 20, 2019 in response to a question posted on Quora.com. The questions was Why do people run marathons if it’s bad for your body? and this was my response.
People always ask me a question similar to yours: Doesn’t running hurt your knees? and I will usually respond with My knees and I have an agreement – If I agree not to put the weight back on, then they agree to put up with my running marathons.
Neither of us have ever regretted this agreement. Here’s why…
I promised my wife when I turned 40 that I would go see a doctor for a complete physical. I don’t know why, other than she had just gone through a pretty big ordeal, but Mary was worried about my health…
So, at 44 when I had my 1000th nosebleed that wouldn’t stop, rushed to the emergency room where they introduced me to my new best friend, the Rhino Rocket, and was informed that my blood pressure was “slightly” elevated at ~220/125, I considered going to a doctor…
A year later, when I had a kidney stone that required not one or two but THREE trips back to the hospital for lithotripsy (ultra sound waves to break up kidney stones) because they couldn’t penetrate the fat surrounding my stomach to effectively break up the stone and literally breaking the skin in the process, the thought of going to a doctor for a full exam re-entered my mind.
But it remained there, as just a thought.
NOTE: There are some times that it’s best to NOT have a picture taken of yourself, and even more times that you should think twice about posting it on the interweb, but unfortunately for you, I ignored both suggestions. And if you thought the above picture was bad (and just to confirm, it was), then the next one is like 26.2 times worse, so I will apologize in advance. Sorry.
It IS extremely embarrassing, but it IS important to show just how unhealthy and overweight I was. I have never posted this picture anywhere (it’s really not one of those pictures you post on Facebook or Instagram with a #badday hashtag) but fortunately I don’t think there are very many people that visit this site or will read this so it’s all good…
BTW, I stuck a quarter there for size perspective. Seriously, who does that? We both know the answer at this point.
I warned you! The good news is it’s over and I promise that there’s nothing but happy and uplifting pictures from this point forward.
Sometime during my 45th year, I finally went to see a doctor as my heart, like the rest of my body, was starting to complain and act funny. Not in a “Ha ha, I can’t believe you ate an entire dozen of Krispy Kreme Donuts. That was so funny!” way, but in a “Hey moron, wake up and notice that I’m having a really tough time circulating the blood through your body and I’m about to give up on you!” kind of way.
As for my mind, it had started screaming “help me” since I was a kid but I just repeatedly ignored it until it eventually went away by medicating it with lots of bad, but very pleasing food.
Now, even more rare than pictures of the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot, is a picture of me eating a salad, or really anything healthy. This rare event was captured and recorded in December of 2007. And while many may claim/insist that this HAD to have been photoshopped, I can confirm that it is in fact 100% authentic. That said, I feel I must add a qualifying statement as to the context of the situation.
As I recall, it was actually a challenge by my nephew Adam to see if my body would explode if I ate something healthy. It didn’t, but that was probably because I single-handedly attacked and devoured the entire desert tray to quickly counteract the “health” and taste of the salad.
Oh, back to the highly overdue doctor visit…
After taking my blood pressure (around 200/120), weight (318 lbs), height (5′6″), etc she announced her findings that (shockingly) I was not in good health! Who knew? With a calculated Body Mass Index (BMI) that was literally off the chart at 51.3 (see below), I had earned everything that goes with a lifetime of abusing my body, a lack of exercise and the resulting morbid obesity (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux/heartburn, sleep apnea, high blood sugar that eventually led to Type 2 diabetes, etc., etc., etc.).
Even though she was a holistic doctor, she suggested Gastric Bypass surgery. While excited about the proverbial “fat loss magic pill” and not having to do anything but have surgery to get rid of my lifetime of poor eating and exercise habits, I was surprised that she would recommend it. Her response: To be honest, you are the first person I have EVER recommended it to. You’re THAT bad Roger!.
In order to have the procedure, you must first attend a 3 hour seminar about the surgery which I eagerly attended. I considered it just one of the pesky requisite hurdles that I had to jump over (or in my case, knock down and walk over or frankly just walk around) and then I would be allowed to happily hop and skip down the road to the surgery table.
But things didn’t go as planned…
While listening to the various doctor’s sugar coated sales pitches and miraculous results, I also picked up on the ones that they sort of glossed over such as “possible” complications including a quick mention of death (!). It was at that point that I walked out shaking my head NO and needed to find another way.
It took about two years, a number of failed diets, hypnosis, nutritionists, weight watchers (4th and 5th time), and another failed attempt to be cast on The Biggest Loser tv show to name a few.
It was right after I found out that I didn’t make the cut for upcoming season of The Biggest Loser that I came up with my latest plan to lose weight. Ironically, I came up with this plan while cooking TWO racks of BBQ ribs in order to gain MORE weight and have a better chance of being cast on the following season of the show. Only those who are/have been morbidly obese would really understand that reasoning, but it’s true.
But I digress. Here was my plan:
Run the 2009 Boston Marathon, just like my father did when I was 7 years old. In the process I would lose weight and raise money for Cystic Fibrosis (a disease my niece Julia has). Simple but just a few questions I asked myself as I contemplated this plan:
Can I run? NO
Have I ever run a mile in my entire 47 years? NO
Do I have any comprehension of just how far 26.2 miles is? NO
Do I hate the thought of walking, let alone running? YES
Do any of the above questions matter? NO!
Here I am about a week after walking three miles. My body was complaining but my mind was celebrating. Fortunately, my mind told my body to get over it!
I could continue to ramble on, tell you about what I went through, my highs and my lows over the next 10 months, how I learned to actually embrace and enjoy exercise, figured out that food is meant to fuel the body and not to just please and placate the mind, that love is the most motivating and powerful force in the world, and many other bits of wisdom I gained over those 10 months, but this would require hundreds of paragraphs, more confusing and superfluous comments and some additional “Help me” pictures, so I will just post a single picture to get us there.
I’ll say Presto Chango and someone cue the Ta-da! sound…
Wow, right? Now, I know what most of you are thinking “Why didn’t he use a better polyurethane sealer for the front door?”. My wife asks the same question. SMH
But others may wonder “Did you really do this in 10 months?” and the answer is YES!
So to answer the original question of “Why do people run marathons if it’s bad for your body”, I will let the picture below with my niece Julia right after I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon be my answer.
Really? You’re still reading this answer? I did it, I lost the weight, I ran the 2009 Boston Marathon and I answered the question so what else do you want to know?
The front door maybe? Do you actually care about the front door? Sadly, it still looks about the same. Sorry to disappoint.
Me? Are you curious what happened to me? Ironically, that marathon was EXACTLY 10 years ago today (April 20, 2009) so what have I been up to? OK, as a reward for persevering and putting up with me, here are a few more pictures for you.
These were taken 5 days ago (April 15, 2019) and I had just finished running the 2019 Boston Marathon with the race director, Dave McGillivray and a fantastic group of people.
It was my 63rd full (26.2) marathon in 10 years. And my body (and mind) STILL does not think that running marathons is BAD for it.
OTHER BLOG POSTS
Why I NEED To Run The 2019 Boston Marathon
We’re Almost Home – 2016 Big Sur Marathon (written 04.14.16)
Chicago – The Second City (written 10.23.15)
Seven Years Later (written June 7, 2015)
8 Years and 3 Days Ago… (written September 18, 2014)
San Francisco “Worth The Hurt” 52.4 Ultra Marathon(started Aug 04.14)
2014 Boston Marathon Video: We Come Running (written Feb 17,2014)
Just as I did 5 years ago I will usually make a video to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that my niece Julia suffers from. This is that video.
When I initially started thinking about this video a few months ago (more like 6 months ago when I received my entry confirmation), I envisioned splitting the screen and have two videos playing simultaneously: my original 2009 Boston Marathon video (which ended up being reposted/renamed “The Most Inspiring Video You Will Ever Watch” and going viral) and the same shots, same clothes, etc 5 years later. I suppose I was inspired by those Now and Then pictures.
Fortunately I quickly came to the realization that this years race is not just about me, but about the event of last years bombing and the effect it had on others. I went down to the Boston Marathon course and started shooting video of everyone training. And while I got some great footage, I just couldn’t get it to work.
As with my other videos, I always set some intentions for what the viewer is supposed to get out of it. So the three things you are supposed to see in the video are the following:
First, Just how important the Boston Marathon is to me and how it actually saved my life.
Right after I ran Boston 2009, I made a promise to myself that I would run the marathon five years later for a couple of reasons. Primarily so that I would be forced to keep on running and keep the weight off. In addition, I wanted to show others that have come to know my story that I was able to keep the weight off for 5 years and hopefully inspire them to embark upon their own journey, if they haven’t started yet.
In addition, I also wanted to show the viewers of my original video that I DID end up crossing the finishline of the 2009 Boston Marathon and that the story has continued to go on. This is the reason that I started out the video with the same footage as I did in the first video and I look at this video as kind of the conclusion of what happened after I left Hopkinton that day. In addition it also established that the only way you can cross the finishline in Boston is to start running in Hopkinton. And finally, selfishly, I love that Mary says “Love you” because without her support, none of my story would exist.
Second, I wanted to show the camaraderie amongst all runners.
I shot the footage of all the runners back in September when I ran Mainly Marathon‘s “Center Of the Nations Series” (aka CONS) of marathons. I thought it would be a nice idea to designate one of the 5 days as “Boston Strong” day where runners could show their support for Boston. I contacted the race director, Clint Burleson, with my proposal and he was 100% on board.
Before the race Clint suggested that everyone wear an old Boston Marathon shirt, a blue or yellow shirt (marathon colors) or anything representing the Boston Marathon. In addition, after I set up my camera on the course, I asked everyone to maybe give a shout out to Boston, showing their support for the victims and the survivors of the bombs. My plan was to use footage to chronicle the 5 day event and I thought this would be a nice addition. After a couple of weeks recovery, I put the video together and ended up calling it “The 555” after the name given the series by my friend Lisa. Here’s the finished product:
I generally don’t like to reuse footage from one video but after struggling with fitting the footage that I shot on the marathon course, this footage popped into my head and it did a excellent job of accomplishing what I wanted to show: the camaraderie of the runners.
There is also a sub- component of this video and this “camaraderie” idea as well. The Boston Marathon is a unique race in that it is a goal of most marathoners to someday run this iconic race, known throughout the world. This year, we are a unique group of 36,000 runners and each of us did everything we could to run the race this year. Each one of us has our own special reason for wanting to run it and all 36,000 of us will start running in the same place (Hopkinton) and stop running once we reach Boston. And that is why I chose the song “We Come Running”. We will not run in fear of what happened in the past and we will run with “Boston Strong” pride in our hearts.
Thirdly, I need to somehow make a solicitation for donations for Cystic Fibrosis.
Of the three purposes, this was without question the hardest. Actually if you ask any runner who runs a marathon for charity which is harder to do, solicit donations from friends and family or run 26.2 miles, I have little doubt they would all say asking for donations. It shouldn’t be hard, especially looking at the picture below of my wife Mary and Julia (now 15!), but it is.
I really had no idea how to segue over to subject of donations until I had watched the footage of the runners for the 100th time and then it dawned on me.
One of my earlier videos was a project where I got different people to say “Julia”. I have never stopped collecting these videos and every once in a while my friends will just say “Julia” out of the blue. Sally was one of the 5 people that I ran the 555 with and as she ran by the camera she shouted “Julia”. No one would get the reference outside of my friends so I really didn’t pay any attention to it…until the day I was looking for some way to bring in the donation request.
Like a light bulb going off in my head, I saw the opportunity and with a little audio and video editing, was able to line Sally’s comment up. So if you would like to help out Julia and everyone else that suffers from CF, you can click on the link below and you will be whisked away to my 2014 Boston Marathon Firstgiving page. 100% of your donation goes to the Boomer Esiason Foundation which funds research as well as financial aid for the families that must deal with this disease on a daily basis.
Well that is obviously WAY too much information about a simple video but I thought it would be a good way to start the blog on my new website off. Thanks for reading and watching and have a great day!