Ο αθλητής της ομάδας μας Χρίστος Χαραλάμπους είναι από τους ανθρώπους που επιβεβαιώνουν ότι το The Only Way Through is Through (Under Armour slogan), Impossible is Nothing, #BeatYesterday και το Just Do It! γίνονται με πράξεις και θυσίες. Υπενθυμίζει σε όλους μας ότι η αλλαγή, η πρόοδος και η ζωή ενός αθλητή, χρειάζεται πίστη, επιμονή και συστηματικότητα.
Ο Χρίστος απαντά τις πιο κάτω ερωτήσεις από την Ολλανδία όπου διαμένει μόνιμα τα τελευταία χρόνια και τον ευχαριστούμε εκ των προτέρων που μοιράζεται μαζί μας την πιο κάτω ιστορία του.
Q: Tell us about Chris life 2 years ago.
A: I was always an overweight person. Always the biggest person in the room. Somehow I was ok with it. I convinced myself that this is me, this defines me. Just like some people have a form of disability, dyslexia, or any other limitation, I was born obese. Not much to change there, I just accepted it. But after finishing the army and going to the university, things went south. I was growing bigger every year with the excuse of “studies”, “I am too busy studying to focus on a diet”. The same pattern continued when I came to the Netherlands for my Masters and then during my work as well. Until a year ago, when I reached my pick; 160kg. I was depressed with barely enough energy to go through 8 hours of work and then lie on the couch and empty the fridge. Day in, day out. Even during the weekends, I was sitting on the couch playing video games. I could barely have the energy for a coffee with friends.
Q: What kind of limitations did your weight cause?
A: It caused limitations both in a physical and mental manner. On the physical aspect it was quite bad. I couldn’t enjoy the simple things of life. For instance, at work the restaurant was at a floor higher than the work floor so I had to climb one flight of stairs. During lunch, I would avoid going to the restaurant with the excuse ”too busy”, while the reason was that I would be out of breath if I went upstairs and my colleagues would notice that, so I was skipping lunch. One of the worst limitations that I recall was a year and a half ago. We went to an amusement park with my girlfriend and her brother. I love roller coasters so I was pushing everyone to join me on the fast rides. I was waiting for the entire day to reach the most famous roller coaster. When we arrived, I sat in the wagon and the security belt couldn’t be lowered due to my size. I had to get out of it and stayed on the side, watching everyone go. Mentally, it was maybe worse. I reached a form of depression, lost the will to explore, to have fun, to live a normal life. Of course all that looked normal to me because I never learned a different way of living.
Q: What kind of breakthroughs have you had and when did you take the decision for a change?
A: I watched a video about Ironman a bit more than a year ago that explained how difficult such a race is. The amount of discipline that you need to prepare for such a race and the pain (physically and mentally) that someone will go through to finish it. And I thought: How awesome would it be if you could finish such a race? For someone to call: Christos, YOU.ARE.AN.IRONMAN (I always think that if you do something, you should do it with all your heart). That resonated with me, but I was of course afraid to tell it to anyone, even my girlfriend. For someone weighing 160kg, to state that he will finish a full Ironman competition, it is at best laughable. So then I just started looking for a personal trainer to help me lose weight and after that, help me achieve this dream of mine.
Q: How did you meet Dimos and what were your expectations from your relationship?
A: Some of my friends posted on social media some pictures during training with Dimos and then started researching about him on social media and his website. After seeing what an athlete he is, I wanted to reach out to him. But it took me more or less a week to contact him. I recall writing text messages and then deleting them because I was afraid to reach out to him. You see, Dimos normally is training athletes to become better. The closest that I had to do with athletics was probably FIFA video games 😊. Until one night that was the last drop in the bucket. I was sleeping and when I woke up, I just wanted to flip my sleeping pose from left to right and by doing that I was out of breath. That’s when I decided to send a message to Dimos hoping that he could help me start this journey.
Q: Can you describe your up to date experience with Dimos as your coach?
A: Dimos cares. Even the first interaction that we had showed that. He told me how happy he was that I reached out to him and he would love to help me out and even asked for a week to prepare a plan since my case is not the typical one. Dimos cared not to overburden me, not to get an injury and to not give up. He was next to me everyday. And I want to emphasize the word EVERYDAY! I was also a smoker before. He asked me if I really want to change and I said YES! He then asked me to video record myself throwing the cigarettes in the trash and making a promise that I will never smoke again. I watch that video every week, Dimos too. Dimos is not only my coach anymore. I actually think of him more like a brother, someone that I knew forever, someone that I care about and I want to make proud. He pushes me to be a better version of myself everyday. And throughout this journey I figured out that a good coach does two things: 1. He does not elevates himself to stand out but he elevates his athletes. 2. Leads by example. I am blessed to have him in my life.
Q: What keeps you motivated?
A: How many things am I allowed to mention? 😊 My past pictures, Ironman finish line visualization, the presenter shouting: Christos you are an Ironman. But on a more serious note, my girlfriend, my family, my coach and co-athletes and my friends. But people need to learn that motivation always fades out. There will be days that there is no motivation, that you are really tired and you cannot find a reason to go out for a training. That’s where dedication and discipline come into action. And the two things that I can give as a tip are the following: 1. Make a public commitment about your goal. I mentioned to everyone a month after I started that I will finish an Ironman competition. The look at their faces still gives me fuel to go on. And I feel the obligation to prove to anyone that I am a man of my word. 2. Find an audience and commit to them. This is the reason that I post a picture of myself everyday working out. Because my friends see that and as a last resort, I will think it twice before skipping a workout because I won’t post a picture and people might wonder. Probably they won’t but it is that extra push that I need sometimes.
Q: Tell us about Chris today.
A: I feel that I am a different person. This might sound cliché but it is indeed true. My habits are completely different, I am happy, I have energy to live my life to the fullest. I love and I am loved and I smile all the time 😊. Because I was gifted the greatest gift that someone could ask for; physical and mental health. I perform much better at work as well now. Now, nothing is impossible. I know that I can achieve it if I focus on it. And this holds for everyone but it won’t work until you believe it truly. And to believe it truly you need confidence which someone achieves with conquering goals. I hope that what I am trying to explain, makes sense 😊.
Q: Few words for the people who are still reading and they might be in a situation where you’ve been.
A: Firstly, If you are still reading, I want to thank you with all my heart. It means the world. For whoever this might concern: It doesn’t matter if you are overweight, obese, underweight, depressed or any other physical or mental issue. Know that there is always a way out and that it is never too late. I was in your shoes and I speak from experience. But please do the following: Understand and digest that there is a problem that needs to be solved and seek help from professionals. Also understand that you don’t know everything. Once you do these, half of the problem is already gone. There are people that love you and care about you. I know that with all my heart. Seek help and you will be helped. And if not, at least you tried. But also know that success takes time, effort, pain and tears. But if you stick to it and you get through, damn it is rewarding. Nothing worth having is easy, you have to fight for it. Maybe you lose the fight but it doesn’t matter, at least you tried and you will try again. You were not born to live a mediocre life, be the best version of yourself. It might look very far but I promise you, it is closer that you think. Know that I will always be there for you, so please reach out to me if I could give any way of help. Again, thank you for spending this time to read my interview. I love you to the moon and back. And remember: Your second life begins when you realize you only have one.