It’s never too late to transform a life. That was the message Evan Windom brought to the crowd at a Colville Get Fit rally recently.
The 49-year-old fitness and health advocate shared the stories of his personal triumphs and tribulations as he went from 280-pounds, de¬pressed and unmotivated to taking control of his destiny.
“I remain convinced that whoever said big people are jolly was never a big person themselves,” said Windom. “My whole life, I had always been on the heavier side--even when I joined the military. You’d think that someone in the Armed Forces would be in their peak physical condition, but no. I was one of the PT failures. I was constantly failing the Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) and had to retake it; our instructors had no qualms about letting you know that you were a failure.”
It’s not as if he hadn’t tried, he added. Windom attempted to use supplements, powders, pills, and even hypnosis in an effort to shed the pounds.
“I didn’t lose any weight, but I did get some really cool naps in,” Windom joked. “I even tried that Brazilian berry (açaí palm) whose name nobody can pronounce. Nothing worked.”
It wasn’t losing weight that was so much the problem, as keeping the weight off. Both required a complete lifestyle change that Windom admits he wasn’t ready to make during all his false starts into better health. But the more he neglected his physical well-being, the more impact it had on other aspects of his life. He would often make fun of himself to try and circumvent being teased about is weight. He was withdrawn and shy at social gatherings, ever self-conscious of his size.
Tough wake-up call
At the time, he lived near Mount Si in North Bend. He would often hear friends and neighbors talk about hiking the mountain during the weekends in casual conversation. For Windom, the mountain’s presence served as a continual reminder of what he was unable to do.
The reality of his situation came calling when he lost one of his friends and co-workers, Todd, to complications from diabetes. Todd was overweight and didn’t follow proper health and nutrition guidelines for a diabetic.
“We were in church, and his eight-year-old son called us saying he couldn’t wake his dad up,” Windom recalled. “An experience like that brings your own mortality into sharp focus with no subtlety whatsoever.”
Windom realized that he was sick and tired of being sick and tired. But this time, instead of trying to go it alone, he asked for help. He voiced his health goals to friends, family and co-workers, to help keep him accountable. He employed the use of a personal trainer and began to incorporate healthier food into his diet. During his journey toward improved health, Windom said he finally realized it wasn’t so much about losing weight, or trying to meet other people’s expectations.
“What you weigh doesn’t determine who you are,” Windom pointed . “It has no meaning on your value as a person.
“Weight is nothing more than an outcome of your personal lifestyle choices.”
Windom also joined a fitness support group of like-minded people who encouraged him along the way. In a little over a year, Windom lost 100 pounds and faced the previously dreaded Army Physical Fitness Test that his trainer decided to administer to him.
He passed it on the first try.
Windom also braved the heights of Mount Si last year on Jan. 1, making the trip all the way to the top of an iconic mountain known as “The Haystack” in two feet of fresh snow.
Windom said he tells his story not to brag, but so that people will see themselves in him and his struggles, and see what they can accomplish.
“There’s nothing special about me; I’m not a professional athlete or a celebrity,” Windom said. “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, because they are good things. You learn what does and doesn’t work for you, and you can use that. Have big goals, but reach them with small steps. Promise yourself that you won’t take any shortcuts, no gimmicks and no excuses. Don’t look at your health as something you need to com¬plete, look at it as something you want to start and keep going for the rest of your life.”
To contact Windom, email firstname.lastname@example.org .