GLENDALE, Ariz. — Fed up with his physical appearance, Jarrett Wyatt said a company weight-loss challenge in 2009 helped him take the first stride toward getting in shape.
And after 33 marathons, he has never looked back.
Wyatt, who had been heavy since his teenage years, sets his goals high and knew eating right wouldn't get the job done.
By walking — and then jogging and running — around his block, he successfully lost 160 pounds from his 5-foot, 10-inch frame in 15 months.
"I wanted to make a change, and I knew by dieting alone I wouldn't come out on top," Wyatt said. "I like to tell people that I'm going to go hit this crazy time (when running), and I might not hit it, but I feel a little bit of pressure and thrive on it."
Running in his Glendale neighborhood eventually spawned into competing in marathons and the Ironman Triathlon, a series of long-distance races consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and a marathon, all of which must be completed within a 17-hour time limit.
Wyatt, who competed in his first marathon in December 2009, will run in Sunday's P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, the 26.2-mile Phoenix-to-Tempe route, where he will try to beat his personal best time of 3:34.
The race will mark Wyatt's second season of competing in the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series, which included 18 marathons last year and 15 marathons between 2009 and 2010. Wyatt has 33 races under his belt.
In addition, the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon is also special for Wyatt as he will join his mother, Barbara, in the half-marathon race. It's the elder Wyatt's first competitive race, something she's been looking forward to but wishes she would have accomplished earlier in life.
"I'm 62," she said. "It's a shame I'm only getting around to this now."
Wyatt, 37, who stresses the importance of commitment and following through on goals, says running marathons has become a life lesson. The races have changed the way Wyatt prioritizes his life and has taught him that good things take time and effort.
The Glendale resident accomplished his weight-loss goal without fad diets or personal trainers. In two years, he has gone from 360 pounds and a size 52 waist to 200 pounds and a size 32 waist. He did it by running on his own schedule, relying only on himself.
"Sure, you feel self-conscious at the beginning," Wyatt said about the looks he initially received while running in his neighborhood. "I didn't want to go to the gym and get looked at."
At the onset of his weight-loss goal, Wyatt said if he stopped running, he would lose motivation and quit. But Wyatt never thought running around his block to get in shape would lead to running marathons and other competitive races.
"It's funny, sometimes you get what you ask for," he said.
Wyatt has his employer, P.F. Chang's China Bistro, Inc., to thank as the weight-loss challenge and his colleagues, many of whom also enjoy competitive running, helped push him toward his goal of becoming physically fit.
"Having the backing of my employer is great. I don't like to turn down challenges," he said. "It just feels like a huge sense of accomplishment."
These days, Wyatt concedes he's often "pressed for time" with two children, but makes it his goal to not go more than a few days without running. And mother and son, who have always been close, have formed an even tighter bond as they both enjoy running and jogging together.
"You start spending a lot of time together and you find a lot of weird things to talk about," Wyatt said. "It's great to share a common interest."
Information from: Daily News-Sun, http://www.dailynews-sun.com/