Thursday, January 5, 2012

Unfit to Ironman, Guest Post by Anthony, Team Aquaphor

I failed to mention in my previous post recapping 2011 how grateful I was to be a part of Team Aquaphor.  It really is a team of remarkable athletes.  I had applied for this team in 2010, and did not get accepted, so I was really pleased to be a part of the team last year.  There is a huge online community for us, which has been especially great after moving away from MI, where I had several friends who were teammates and in my area, as well as TIA, to KY, where I have one other team member, Andrea, who is too far away for training on a regular basis.  Via Facebook,, monthly newsletters, and blogs, I have been able to get to know more about my teammates.  It was through a monthly newsletter that I first learned of Anthony Ripamonti's amazing transformation that was told as part of the featured athlete section.  I had no idea his background, especially after seeing his posts about top of the line gear, tough workouts, and major upcoming races on facebook and the team message board.  I had no clue how new he was to the sport of triathlon, or to sports in general.  I hope you find this inspiring, I know I did.  Here is his amazing story, in his own words, followed by a video clip he put together leading up to IM AZ:

All my life, I've never considered myself athletically inclined. In gym class at school, I always was the last to get picked for any team sport - and rightly so. I was just uncomfortable with my body and generally unenthusiastic about any kind of exercise whatsoever. By the time I reached my early 30's, my sedentary lifestyle coupled with stress from work and lousy eating habits started to take their toll on my body.
I started to notice that I would feel generally crappy all the time. I would groan every time I got out of a chair and I was only 34 years old!! In the fall of 2009, I went to the doctor for a long overdue physical and got told what I already suspected: I was grossly overweight (225lbs @ 5'9"), my blood pressure was in the early stages of hyper tension and my cholesterol levels were through the roof. I also found out, to my dismay, that I had Hashimoto's disease, a condition where your body's own immune system starts attacking your thyroid gland resulting in lethargy, and weight gain.


I felt so depressed and helpless. I felt like my life was out of control. Mostly, I was angry with my big, fat, lazy, pathetic self. I mentally tuned-out my doctor as she was suggesting a veritable smorgasbord of prescriptions to combat the vast array of symptoms I suffered as a result of my undisciplined life. I started visualizing what life would be like at 40 years old, then 50 and on… What I saw was a miserable man, older than his years - a morbidly obese fellow slouching uncomfortably in a motorized scooter. This man was me! I’ve never been more horrified in my entire life! I felt like a parody of Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by the Ghost of Fitness Future.

When I snapped out of it, something had changed in me. A fire had been lit. I turned my anger into focus. I was not going to let this happen! I was going to change my life! I was going to TAKE CONTROL!! Smiling suddenly, I told my doctor that I would skip the prescriptions for now, thank you very much, and try to fix my own problems.

I got home and excitedly laid out a plan for the next 6 months. I would need a goal. I didn’t want to set a weight goal, but more of a fitness goal. Coincidentally, an old friend of mine from college with whom I had recently reconnected on Facebook had just finished a triathlon and posted the details and pictures on his page. I was intrigued! The more I started reading up on triathlons, the more excited I got. The idea of me competing in a multi-sport endurance race was in diametric opposition to everything in my life up to this point. If I could finish one of these, it would be the ultimate triumph over my inner lazy slob! I was giddy as I clicked the “register” button on the race website. In 20 weeks, I was going to be a triathlete, dammit! Now, I just need to learn how to swim and I probably need to get a bike or something...

If my life was a Rocky movie, now would be a good time for one of those cheesy music montages that shows me doing all these grueling workouts in the freezing cold with rain dripping down on my grizzled, determined face (all to the soundtrack of awesome 80's pop). Then, near the end of the montage, with me standing on the roof of the Caesars Palace parking garage, arms out-stretched to the sky (and my physique noticeably more toned than at the beginning of the montage) the music would swell, and in a burst of primal passion, I would yell out something inspiring, yet unintelligible in my best Stallonian accent that would echo across the whole Vegas valley.......

That was November 2009. Fast forward to November 2011

As I glide down the finish chute at Ironman Arizona, the explosion of endorphins in my lean and wiry 145lb body drown out the agony of my screaming leg muscles after eleven hours and thirty two minutes of grueling exercise. I almost can’t believe it’s real. As I hug and kiss my family in the finishers corral I see, sitting off in the distance like the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi, a shimmering vision of that old fat guy in the motorized scooter. He gives me a big thumbs up.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of being in control of your destiny. I, and nobody else, changed my life. It’s so simple, yet so difficult. People tell me all the time that my transformation is nothing short of amazing and that that they could never do what I have done – it’s impossible. I often respond (borrowing the Ironman ™ motto) “Anything is possible.” It truly is - you just have to want it badly enough.


Shannon (IronTexasMommy) said...

Great post! Anthony! You're a rockstar! Amazing story.. thanks for sharing! Go Team Aquaphor!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is an incredible story! What a transformation! And Melissa, how cool that you can be part of Team Aquaphor, too-- sounds like a great opportunity.