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I spoke to him of children who would benefit from what we were doing and of those who walk more than five kilometers just to get a drink of dirty water. We spoke of climbing Mt. Fuji and other challenges that life still holds ahead of us. I pulled and pushed him. I cheered for him. I empathized with him. I shared bits and pieces of life wisdom with him. This was not the first time I had told him that I believe in him, that "You can do it!" Even still, today was different. Today was that opportunity for him to rise above something bigger than he was, and not just to call himself a conqueror, but also to feel it in his spirit.
During the last leg, as we could see the finish line, I was giving him a pep talk. I wish I could recall the exact words I said to him at that moment, but I'll never forget his response: "Yeah, just like YOU believe in me." At that moment, my heart swelled with love and hope. Hope that he will embrace those words and grow to be a confident man who does not fear life's challenges. He confirmed that he does truly listen to me and believes me when I tell him, "I believe in you."
As we neared the finish line, he told me he was ready to sprint. He let go of the green bandanna we had carried together for the last 3 miles and we sprinted together to the finish line. During the whole race, he never stopped moving forward—not once. He had ups and downs, but he never quit. And as we crossed that finish line side-by-side, he became a little more of the adult I will someday know him to be.
After grabbing some water and finding my husband, we stood together to listen to the race results. My softhearted 8-year-old son said to me, "That was the hardest thing I've ever done, but I'm glad I did it." In that moment, I learned the most beautiful truth: Today he came to believe in himself, like SparkPeople helped me believe in myself. This would have never happened had I not wrestled with my food and exercise demon and come out victorious, believing in myself. This moment was made possible by SparkPeople and one life changed—no, make that two.
I realized that perhaps the greatest consequence of my weight loss (60 pounds to date) is that I have the ability to help others in a meaningful way. I never thought I would see the day when others would call me an inspiration. Living as a fat person enabled me to relate better to the struggles of others. I guess those 11 "fat" years weren't completely wasted after all.