August 2nd, 2011
01:55 PM ET
It’s hard to believe that the Nautica New York City Triathlon is this coming weekend.
It seems like just yesterday that we chose six iReporters to become members our 2011 Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge team, known as the "6-pack.” Their specific reasons for entering the contest varied, but all had a goal of making real, meaningful change in their lives. Since that day, watching their transformation, week after week, has been incredibly inspiring.
When we first spoke to him, last December, Dr. Scott Zahn shared with us how determined he was to get off of the blood pressure and cholesterol medications he’d been put on that very day.
Kas Seerla told us that she had never been encouraged to play sports as a kid, and she knew it was time to focus on getting in shape. She had two young kids and no idea how she would fit the training into her busy schedule, but she was willing to try.
Kendrick Henley was disgusted with how much weight he had put on since college, and at only 25, he knew it wasn’t too late to fix it. He was apprehensive about taking the challenge, but knew he needed something like this to make sustainable changes in his life.
Stasia Cirricione said she’d grown up in a soda pop and fried foods family in the Midwest, and knew there was better food out there. Yet she didn’t really have the information she needed to eat a healthy diet.
Joaquin Brignoni had just been hit hard by the economic downturn and lost a business he’d worked on for years. He had three young kids living at home and wanted to set a good example for them, but had a hard time focusing on his own health while trying to keep everybody else on track.
And finally, Nina Lovel told us that while she may be almost 60, there was no stopping her. (She was right, by the way.)
In early February, the entire team gathered in Atlanta for a big kickoff weekend, where Fit Nation athletic director Laura Cozik put them through the ringer: a long run in the rain, two pool swims, two spin classes, and several lectures on what to expect in their new lifestyle, plus how to adapt their nutrition. Then in April, it was off to Hawaii for a grueling four-day boot camp, and then we sent them right back to real life to work with their trainers, and try to fit triathlon training into their daily lives.
They were six ordinary people with lots of obligations, excuses, and real-world problems to face. And now, just five short days away from their first Olympic-distance triathlon, not one of them is the same person we met in December.
Each one of them has trained five or six days a week since we met. Each one has lost weight, gained strength and confidence and grown - spiritually, mentally and physically.
Looking back at pictures they sent us during the application process, not one of them looks the same. In December, not a single one could run more than 3 miles, and now, they’re gearing up for 6-mile runs this Sunday, but only after they’ve swum a mile, and biked 25 miles.
We'll all be watching in amazement as this group of former couch potatoes officially gets adorned with the title ‘triathlete,” and I hope you will be too.
About this blog
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.