Just a few years ago I was obese and sick.
If someone had told me back then that I'd one day be described as an athlete, I would have laughed in their face and probably responded with a string of expletives.
At the time, I took medication several times each day and I suffered from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), asthma and depression. I found it challenging to climb a few stairs without getting breathless and any form of exercise seemed impossible.
One day everything changed and my body finally said "enough."
It was September 2008. I was playing with some of the children at a kids birthday party, when after just a minute or two I felt dead on my feet. My breathing became laboured, my chest was pounding and I broke into an uncontrollable sweat. Something felt seriously wrong.
I probably should've sought medical attention, but instead I medicated myself with the contents of my pint glass, sat down and hoped it would go away.
My heart rate slowly went back to normal, I got my breath back and I put the incident to the back of my mind.
A year later I was traveling on business and tore a hole in my suit. I had an important meeting the following day and my only option was to go shopping, for the BIGGEST item of clothing I'd ever purchased.
Who was the fat guy that looked back at me in the mirror?
I was embarrassed and ashamed of how I'd become. I was scared for my future, scared I might not have much of one left. I was scared of leaving my kids without a dad.
I know it sounds crazy, but that shopping trip was my catalyst to change. Not the suspected heart attack a year earlier, but my reflection in the mirror.
I found a nutritionist. She gave me some easy steps to start cleaning up my diet and I was amazed at how quickly I started to see results.
This made me read anything and everything I could about health and nutrition.
Purely by chance I read a paragraph about drinking vegetables. I'd always known vegetables were good for me, but I never really ate them. Why had I never heard of drinking them?
The idea instantly made sense and within a day, I purchased a juicer.
Juicing vegetable changed my life. The energy it gave me was off the hook. I felt healthier than I had in years and I rapidly became a Natural Juice Junkie.
Needing an outlet for my energy I started to get active, initially with some moderate exercise like rebounding and then in 2012 I decided to fulfil a long held dream.
My Dad ran a half-marathon when I was about 12 years old. I'd always wanted to emulate him, but was never that sporty.
I decided to sign up for my first 10 mile race. I wasn't a runner. The only thing I ran was a bath, but I had energy and determination.
It was much tougher than I'd expected. The first few training runs I could easily have quit. I was breathing like Darth Vader and sweating so much I looked like I'd stepped out of the shower.
The first week or two of my training hurt. But I persevered and it started to get easier.
I started to enjoy running. It became like meditation, a way to clear my mind after a stressful day or to kick start my mornings.
I quickly progressed. I ran a quarter marathon, a 10 mile, a mud run, a half marathon. Within a year I was a marathoner and yet I was still hungry for more.
Juicing had changed my life, taking me from an obese man who was digging an early grave with his fork to feeling young and vibrant again. I had a second chance at life and I wanted to embrace it.
In August 2014, roughly five years after tearing the hole in my suit I completed a cross country ultra-marathon, that follows the Cotswold Way and is just over one hundred miles in length. A month later I completed my first triathlon. I'd become an athlete!
I write this not to brag about my achievements, but rather to show that we are all capable of taking responsibility for our own health and pushing ourselves beyond our own expectations.
My loved ones used to worry about my health. If I'd carried on in my old life I have no doubt I would've been dead by now. I was the most unlikely person to do this. I had every excuse and then some.
The old me would've described the life I now live as "impossible", but like Nelson Mandela said "it always seems impossible until it's done."