Welcome to Fantastic Finish Photo Friday. We want to bask in the awesomeness of your finish photos. A finish photo captures a moment in time, where you overcame the challenges of the race and training, and reached your goal. The feeling of elation as you cross the line is what keeps us pushing our own limits. Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish.
This week’s Foto is from Jason Demars:
Growing up I was always the big kid. The one that always played catcher for the little league or usually got picked last because I was not the skinny kid. Growing up, I battled with my weight every single minute of the day. I joined the Army in 1993 and during Basic Training of course, I was in shape until I got out of the Army in 1999. I started working as a Police Officer working the old night shifts. Not working out and eating convenience store food had me packing on the pounds. It seemed like overnight I went from 225lbs to 300lbs. I was strong as an ox but had no energy. I was able to do my job, but not to the standards that my family or partners deserved. I became a firefighter as well and of course, I was a big guy. I worked really hard to maintain the high pace of the job and the physical demands that were required. No matter what I did, the weight kept going on and I had just pretty much given up hope that I would ever lose it. I knew deep down inside my heart, I was going to die of a heart attack if something didn’t change. As things have it, I didn’t have the heart attack but instead I got diagnosed with diabetes. I was devastated. I had no one or nothing to blame but myself. I was the one that put that food in my mouth and I was the one that decided to sit around the house feeling sorry for myself instead of walking around the block. Something had to change.
In April of 2009, I went on a date with the most amazing woman in the world. Nicole. She looked through the big guy and saw that I had a heart. She loved me for me and nothing else. We married in 2010 and to this date now have two kids. Colt who is 3 ½ and Chloe who is 9 months. 9 months…that is when my life changed. Not only did we have our baby girl, two weeks after her birth, I had Gastric Sleeve Surgery. I had been struggling with the thought of having surgery. I felt it was the easy way out of my problem. Well, one night, I couldn’t even get down on to the floor to play with son so at that moment I told myself and God, “I need help.”
October 8, 2014 at 0530 hours I reported to the Geary Community Hospital in Junction City, Kansas. I got checked in and met with my surgeon Dr. Hachem. At 0730 I went into surgery and the journey began. I spent 4 days in the ICU due to oxygen levels being very low and it didn’t help that I was 350lbs. The first 3 weeks were a big challenge. I didn’t have any energy and I couldn’t lift or do anything. At week 2 I was wanting to go for walks and even in my mind I wanted to jog. I put on my shoes and shorts XXL that is and walked to the end of the block. I was so exhausted that I had to sit down on the curb and rest for about 10 minutes before I had the strength to get up and walk home. In one month I had lost 35 pounds.
As the weeks started passing by I started to gain my energy back and some of my strength. I started walking every day approx. 2 miles or so. Then I started to Jog to the end of the block. First a block, then a half mile and then I did 2 miles. I was so emotional when I passed that hurdle all I could do was thank God. As time went by and months went by I started jogging more and more and I wanted to do a 5K. Then one of my friends called me a couple weeks ago and asked if I would be interested in doing a Mini Triathlon that Abilene Kansas was hosting. I just laughed. 10 months ago I was 350 pounds and couldn’t even play with my kids to now being 213 pounds and being asked to do a mini triathlon. After about an hour of him trying to convince me, I said YES.
As I pulled into the event I looked around at all the athletes and thought to myself, what in the world did I get myself into. They were all placing their towels and shoes and other items in a need orderly manner as well as their bikes. I had to borrow an old 10 speed from a friend and didn’t even think about a helmet. So I was that guy…totally unprepared and had to borrow a helmet from a fellow competitor. Glad he was able to help. I got my number assigned to me #133 and starting listening to the rules. Now, I have never even seen one of these events let alone down anything like this in my life. I was nervous as could be and just didn’t want to be made a fool of. Then I turned around and there was my family. My wife and kids and in-laws had come to support me. Talk about a tear jerker. I knew that they were proud of me for what I had done up to this point and I knew that I could do this. I was not going to compete against anyone, just myself and the finish line. As I was standing in line awaiting my turn to enter the pool for the swimming leg of the race, I thought back to 9 short months ago. I was 350 pounds with a 48” waist and 3XL shirts. Waiting in the cool morning air getting ready to start my first ever triathlon, was 213 pounds with a 32” waist and Large shirt. They called my name and number and just like slow motion, I took my first step onto the timing mat and entered into the pool. I paced myself and the next thing I know, I had passed my first competitor. I finished the 200 meter swim and exited the pool and got ready for the bike. I could hear my kids yelling for me and what a shot of energy that provided. I got on the bike and exited T1 and started the 6 mile bike ride. I got into a rhythm and started passing more folks. I really enjoyed the ride. I got back to the T2 area and went right into the 2 mile run. I remember telling myself “you got this, one step at a time.” As I turned the last curve and saw the finish line, I knew that I had done something. Everyone was clapping and cheering and there through the finish line I could see my son. He was smiling and cheering and clapping. I crossed the line and he came and gave me the biggest hug ever. I had done it!!!
I looked at the times and I had finished in 49:28 placed 23 out of 32 folks. I didn’t get a medal but I got something better. I had my family, my health and my faith. I am now addicted to the triathlon sport. I am now signed up for my second one in August.
Earlier I said that I thought surgery was the easy way out, boy was I wrong. It has been one of the hardest things that I have ever done. But seeing the look my families face and seeing how proud they are of me is worth it all. To date I have lost 137 pounds. My BMI was a 48.5 and now is a 31. My blood sugars and blood pressures are normal and I am off all medications. I have my life back and I intend to not take that for granted. Life is Great!!!!…
Thank you for letting me share my story. God Bless.
Jason Demars, (39) Abilene Kansas
That is a fantastic transformation, Jason. You are an inspiration for taking control of your life, and making a positive a change. Hopefully triathlon will be a rewarding tool to keep your healthy transformation moving forward. Best of luck and thank you for sharing your story.
Please consider sharing your own photo to inspire others who are working toward their own finish. It doesn’t have to be from a triathlon, just any race that has special meaning to you. If you are interested in sharing, please send a message to firstname.lastname@example.org.