July 14th, 2010
11:07 AM ET

Teacher finds transformation in triathlon training

To those who didn't know him, Rickey Williams, 38, seemed to be living the good life. He had a successful career and a loving, happy family. In short, he was comfortable. Maybe too comfortable.

"Comfort was my goal," he remembers. "Comfort kept me still when I needed to move and led me to eat when I wasn't hungry."

Eventually being comfortable became too much of a good thing. Williams decided he wanted to make some changes. On a whim, he applied to race the Nautica New York City Triathlon with Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

"Triathlon is not for everyone," he says. "But I think it's just a great way to maybe test yourself."

When Williams met Gupta and his fellow Fit Nation athletes back in January, he made it clear he wanted to treat the triathlon as an opportunity to re-energize his whole life.

"I want to get on top of my fitness. I've kind of let it get out of control in the last few years," he told Gupta. "But I also want to develop a mental and spiritual transformation through the whole process too because I know that's sort of what lead me here."

Over the past six months he's made good on his goals. Williams has lost more than 70 pounds. And mentally he's developed a toughness that he says he's never had before.

"The hardest part the whole way has been just the mental approach," he says. "When you're inactive, and you're imagining doing something like this, you really think you can't do much at all. And the...longer you become inactive, the less you feel you can do. But once you get out on the road, or on the bike, you show yourself you can do a lot more than you imagined you couldn't do on the couch."

Williams says he is ready for the race, thanks to his newfound mental approach. He's confident he will finish it and he's excited for the experience.

But most important, he's achieved the whole body transformation he had hoped for.

"The race...is an important event for me," he says. "It matters, but more importantly, the race is a metaphor for life. Life matters. Everything matters. Every choice I make matters."

"The fitness and increased energy have been great byproducts of my training these last six months, but all of it pales in comparison to the wholeness I've found. The race is not the end. It's the beginning."

soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Terry

    so, where's the article on charting your health that was being advertised????

    July 14, 2010 at 12:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. bob

    proud of you rickey!

    July 19, 2010 at 00:11 | Report abuse | Reply
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    July 22, 2010 at 04:04 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.