Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

By Patrick Brennan

My name is Patrick Brennan and I am 17 years old. Three years ago I was very overweight and decided to begin a new venture. I read about Power of Prevention and applied its suggestions and tips. I ended up losing 40 pounds and changed my life. I was successful in adopting a new healthier lifestyle with the help of the Power of Prevention program.

When I was 7 years old, I was tall and the appropriate weight for my age. That spring I broke my arm. Even though I was not able to play sports I continued to eat the way I always had, which was not exactly healthy. During my recovery from my broken arm I put on a lot of weight, until the point were I became very overweight. I remained overweight until I turned 14 years old.

Being overweight caused several problems for me. First, I had terrible balance and was always bumping into things. Second, my self-confidence was very low; this made me shy around new people and affected my self-esteem. Last, because of my weight I was never considered a real competitor in the sports that I played and I was mocked behind my back about my weight.

My grandmother and other family members would always tell me how I would be so good looking if only I dropped a few pounds. This did not help—in fact, it was hurtful. I now know that they were just trying to motivate me, but in order to succeed you must motivate yourself. I am by nature an impatient person. One of the things that drove me crazy was thinking about how long it would take to lose the weight and see the benefits.

I will never forget the day my mom told me that her generation might have a longer life span than mine because of childhood obesity. That is a big jump from saying, “You should lose a few pounds” to “I will probably outlive you because of your weight and your unhealthy lifestyle.” I started taking the concept of losing weight seriously and put a plan into effect. After reading the Power of Prevention web site, I began what I realize now was the beginning of a new way of life.

I started with baby steps. I first limited sweets to once per day for a week, then to every other day until I no longer ate sweets. I then did the same thing for fast food and unhealthy carbohydrates. I incorporated a simple workout program of aerobic exercise (treadmill or jogging) for 30 minutes three times a week. The next thing I knew my face started to thin out, my clothes fit better, and I was faster at my sports. It seemed all the pieces came together—I even felt more energized! The better I felt, the more excited about the changes I had made. I was eating fruits and vegetables instead of inhaling junk food. I learned to read labels at a glance and made an educated decision about what I chose to eat. I could see my body changing, I continued my exercise, and then started lifting weights. My sports ability soared and my confidence grew tremendously. I was proud about how I looked, but more importantly, about what I had done. The suggestions and the motivation from the Power of Prevention web site was a tremendous help.

I began eighth grade a new person; some of the teachers did not even recognize me! It was great having teachers, parents, and even other students complimenting me on what I accomplished. Even though at first it took time to get used to my new body, I played well in both basketball and lacrosse that year. However, as much good as there was that year, there was also some bad; some of my teammates and friends became jealous of what I had done. It was hard to lose some of my best friends over something as silly as me losing weight. I never let this bother me and continued my healthier lifestyle. The friends that were supportive of me became even better friends.

Maintaining the weight loss has not been hard to do. Every once in a while I slip into bad habits and have to remind myself how much work I put into this, and not to destroy it. Even now, I do watch what I am eating and just as important, I watch how much I am eating.

Power of Prevention has changed my life. They will never know how truly grateful I am. In April 2010, I had the privilege to run in the Power of Prevention 5k run in Boston. While there, I met Dr. Donald Bergman, founder of Power of Prevention and a member of the Board of Trustees of the American College of Endocrinology, and Sarah and Bryan, staff of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists. These people are trying to help cure a great problem in the United States.

I just want to let all kids that feel like they need to change their diet or lose a few pounds know that it takes time. You have to be patient. There is an old quote that says, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” which is great. But I think “Everyday they worked on building Rome” should be added to the end of that quote. Please take pride in your accomplishments, stay motivated, and know that you are not just working on shedding a few pounds, you are working on a healthier lifestyle. Good luck and feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions: shaqapat51@yahoo.com.