The Inquirer is presenting a daily profile of participants in the May 6 Blue Cross Broad Street Run, considered the country's most popular 10-miler, with 40,000 people. See full coverage at www.philly.com/broadstreetrun
When Chad Phillips, 30, graduated from high school, he was already 300 pounds.
"My entire life, I have been in and out of obesity clinics, gyms with personal trainers, dietitians at the hospital, and just about every fad diet you could imagine," he said.
He feared the first day of class every semester at East Carolina University. "I was so afraid of walking into class and the desk being to small or tight," he said. Many days his legs "would fall asleep because the support bar would cut off the circulation."
He went to Disney. "I couldn't even ride the roller-coasters because the safety bar wouldn't close on the ride. How embarrassing was that after I waited all that time in line just to have to get back out of the coaster car and walk past all those other people in humiliation?"
He had a girlfriend who stuck with him for five years, and they had a son, but the relationship fell apart in February 2011. No matter what she said, he knew the reason: his weight.
"She wasn't attracted to me anymore, and my family was being destroyed because of my obsession for food.
"I was left at 325 pounds, lonely, and single," he said, "heartbroken and torn down to the core. I remembered my mom saying before she passed in 2003 that the sky is the limit. Set your mind to your goals and go get them."
He made up his mind. Lose 100 pounds, and run in the 2012 Broad Street Run.
Check. And check.
He now weighs 212 pounds, his weight in grade school.
"I lost the weight by developing a passion for running," he said. "I would walk for 60 minutes a day - then I started jogging a few minutes at a time. I thought I was going to die! Before you knew it, I was jogging a mile, then two miles, then my speed started getting faster.
"I ran 10 miles the other day in 88 minutes, so I have no doubt that I will complete the Broad Street Run, providing no injuries. I am so pumped. Who would have ever thought I would reach these goals! It's amazing."
Chad lives in Williamstown, N.J., and is general manager of Bertucci's restaurant in Newark, Del. He said he and his ex-girlfriend tried to reconcile, but it didn't work out.
"I am a new person," he said. "I have changed my eating habits, lifestyle, and all personal and business affairs are better than ever." He said he was now able to be a much more active father and was so proud of the example he had set for his son.
"There are so many people that are facing the same challenges that I conquered," he said. "I want them to know it can be done."