Health Team

Former bariatric weight loss patients eye grueling triathlon

Posted June 2, 2018 11:08 a.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2018 11:18 a.m. EDT

— If you're planning your first triathlon, it's good to have someone like Rodney Jenkins as a coach.

Triathletes face the special challenge of quick change-ups that involve alternating between biking, swimming and running.

A group of former bariatric patients who underwent the weight loss surgery were training recently in the garage of the Rex Bariatric Center as they prep for an upcoming triathlon that will be held in Garner on June 17.

Michael Ellis, 52, is one of those patients. He consulted Dr. Lindsey Sharp six years ago because he wanted to drop the weight.

"At that time, (Sharp) informed me that I was 455.8 pounds," Ellis said. "I knew then I had to make some changes."

Angela Harris, 55, underwent the same procedure. She was 150 pounds heavier than she is now, even though she was physically active.

"I'd always been athletic pretty much my whole life," she said. "But i couldn't drop the weight."

Ellis and Harris both want to step up their exercise by competing in a grueling triathlon.

Said Jenkins: "With the triathalon, you swim (and) you're using all your muscles."

Two of the sports in triathlons -- swimming and cycling -- are easy on the joints.

"And then on top of the swim (and) bike, you get to run," Jenkins said.

There are plenty of rules to follow - but racing the clock isn't one of them. Harris has already competed in a few triathlons.

"I finished last in each of those three races, every single one, but I finished them," Harris said.

Sharp said participating in the events will boost his patients' self esteem.

"Once they finish, I think it will give them just a tremendous confidence to continue with the healthy lifestyle that they've already started on," he said.