The Monster no longer lurks in the closet, hides under the bed, or leaps off the screen.
The Monster now insidiously and shamelessly inhabits millions of precious souls with little regard for race, age, gender, education, or income. Relentlessly ravaging bodies, it swiftly dispatches some while seeding others with time bombs of disease and loss. People just like you, just like me.
... tick, tick, tick.
This Monster is a Killer and a Thief. It robs you of some measure of opportunity, happiness, and time, and it robs our country of your creative strength and bright future. This Monster goes by the name of Morbid Obesity.
For decades, the pace of our lives has been hectic. In our struggle to keep up, we have focused less on our health. We have relied on processed foods, preservatives, sugar, empty calories, and too little exercise, to get us by. In those moments when we know we are making poor choices, we tell ourselves we'll eat better tomorrow and get some exercise. For most of us, that tomorrow never comes.
What was I Thinking?
Unhealthy lifestyle choices have become the accepted norm, and powerful marketing validates this insanity. With little regard for our most precious asset, our own bodies, we have systematically failed ourselves. We have failed each other.
All is not lost, however. Many before me have sounded the alarm against Obesity and are active Change Agents in loosening the Monster's stranglehold on the millions of lives being cut short or half-lived. Momentum continues to build... the paradigm is shifting and it is no longer acceptable to be, like I was, 150 pounds overweight, eating three times as many calories a day as my body needed, and never exercising.
... tick, tick, tick
After my own "aha" moment and an amazing opportunity to be a member of The Biggest Loser Season 14, I now have a second chance to savor all life has to offer.
Success did not come easily. Something worthwhile rarely does. It took determination, hard work and the ability to see my Big Picture.
When I say, my Big Picture, I am not talking about my size, although at 364 pounds, I was big. My Big Picture is the knowledge that when I eat healthfully and exercise, I enjoy my life. My Big Picture is the vision I have of America free of the Morbid Obesity Monster.
A Change Agent on a Mission -- and a Bike
We all know that the children are our future. It is for this reason that my passion rests with them. As of this very minute in the United States, 1 in 3 children is morbidly obese. With each excess pound, a bit of life force drains away... doors close, lives pale, and health costs soar.
I am now Riding it Forward, lending my mind, body, and soul to the cause of eradicating the Morbid Obesity Monster. I am cycling across America in a grassroots effort to meet as many kids and families as possible to show them that, they too, can have a healthy body and an abundant life. I believe that I can reconnect our youth to the outdoors and to adventure and help them see health and fitness as an elementary part of life. My journey begins July 31 in Washington, D.C.
Along my journey, I will talk honestly about my successes, failures and fears. I will share information about nutrition, exercise, and show you how enough small goals and positive changes add up to a big payoff in better health, more confidence and improved self-esteem. This is the one time where losing is winning.
Three Simple Words
As one powerful Change Agent in search of others, I invite you to begin Riding it Forward too. All you need to do is sign our big red bus and take the pledge to live a healthy and active life. As part of our community committed to a healthy lifestyle, you will help kids discover their own passion for a healthy and abundant life.
When I speak with kids and work with adults about changing their lives on the outside by starting with changing their lives on the inside, I encourage them with three simple words: Wear Your Soul. So today, in my first blog post here on HuffPost, I want close by sharing my encouragement with you: Wear Your Soul.
Wear Your Soul
Follow Joe Ostaszewski on Twitter: www.twitter.com/joeOstaszewski