February 8th, 2011
05:10 PM ET

Cheeseburger addict takes on triathlon

As part of the 2011 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge, CNN has selected six viewers to participate alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a six-month training program. Each of the viewers selected is receiving all of the gear, training and nutritional support necessary to complete the race and will compete alongside  Gupta on August 7  in the Nautica New York City Triathlon.

Growing up in Atlanta, Kendrick Henley was a fairly health eater.

"There were times where we had unhealthy foods, but for the most part, my parents cooked pretty healthy," he said.

But when Kendrick went off to college, he found an endless supply of junk food. With no influence from his parents, he began eating, and eating a lot.

"I definitely gained the Freshman 15-plus," Henley said. "During my senior year, I managed to lose some weight, but when I entered graduate school, the late night snacking and lack of exercise got the best of me."

A confessed cheeseburger addict, Henley packed on the pounds – growing from 180 pounds at his high school graduation, to over 340 pounds following graduate school. Kendrick knew something had to change, so he considered taking a drastic step and signing up for a triathlon. But considering that drastic step was where he stopped.

"I found one excuse after another not to sign up and continue poor eating and exercise habits. My favorite diet was the 'I'll Start Tomorrow' diet," Henley said.

When he saw the opportunity to sign up for the Fit Nation Challenge though, he knew it was "now or never."

"I figured this was my chance to stop making excuses!"

Since he was selected for the challenge, Kendrick has started walking and exercising on the elliptical trainer. Once he met his coaches - Ironman triathletes Keith Klebacha and Mary Ann Sedor - he began swimming and cycling.

"I'm going to take this challenge one day at a time," Henley said. "If I do all that I can do every day – eat right and exercise – I think I'll be able to cross that finish line, and I think six  months from now I'll be a lot healthier."

His biggest goal - apart from crossing the finish line - is to lose much of the 160 pounds he's put on in the last seven years.

"I don't really want to put a number on it right now, but eventually I want to get back to where I was in high school."

soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. Me myself and I

    Great job! Best wishes and hope you reach sucess! If only my mother or sister would take the steps needed to have a healthier life... Bravo for reconizing you need to change, and then changing. Hopefully you will become an example to those (and there are many) who could take a page from your book.

    February 9, 2011 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. IsletCells

    I sooo need to do this. When between kids, aging parents, school and work?

    February 9, 2011 at 05:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Simone

    GO KENDRICK!!!! I know that you can do it! We are behind you all the way!!!! Now you can show us how to eat healthier as a family! Your niece and I are cheering for you and no matter what we will be at that finish line to give you the biggest family hug EVER! I am super proud of I love you sooo very much!

    February 9, 2011 at 08:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Stasia

    Go Kendrick!!! I know you can! I'll see you when we cross that finish line!!!

    February 9, 2011 at 09:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sandra

    I'm happy for you. I know you will succeed. Love you always

    February 9, 2011 at 11:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Jim S

    Go Kendrick! Wishing you the best!

    February 9, 2011 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Ninalove

    Kendrick, my new friend and Six-Packer- you look GREAT in your pics and in real life! We are going to have SO much fun getting fit over the next months and crossing that finish line TRIUMPHANT over our own lives! "One day at a time" is a great philosophy; think I'll use it too!

    February 10, 2011 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Paula

    I'm very proud (as i always have been) and I know you can do it. I am supporting you in positive thoughts and prayer.

    February 11, 2011 at 07:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Kas

    My Chi-Town buddy! This is a great step in your transformation. Looking forward to working out with you the next 6 months.

    February 11, 2011 at 14:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Marvin


    March 8, 2011 at 17:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Lea C.

    It would be nice to show a better cross section of people. The only ones with kids are married, or the kids are gone. A single parent showing the rigors and realities of balancing kids, work, and an active lifestyle would be a great motivator to many.

    March 15, 2011 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Heather

    GO Kendrick! We are rooting for you!!!! Love you always!

    May 27, 2011 at 20:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Sozan

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    You can certainly see your skills in the paintings you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.


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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.