Numbers from the doctor, that’s how it began. Numbers. Sometimes they shock us into reality. That’s how it began for Derek Mitchell, truthfully that’s how it begins for many of us. It can be a life changer when you realize that you, yourself are capable of changing that number.
For Derek that number came from the scale; it read 625 pounds in January 2015. He knew that a change was needed. He quit drinking sodas and started walking. He changed his diet, but decided he needed to do more. His sister suggested he do more by adding physical exercise. So he began to walk around his neighborhood.
Exercise has a way of igniting a drive, a passion and a purpose in people, and Derek was no exception to this. I would be willing to say that he went well beyond that, into overdrive. The idea of a 5k emerged, but unlike most who set that goal, his goal changed into doing a 5k every month for the rest of 2015.
In March he stood at the starting line of his first 5k. He knew there was no podium for him that day, in fact it would be hard to imagine him wanting anything more than to finish. That is what inspires me about Derek, he just wants to finish. I think there is some irony in the fact that it was a number that started this journey and a disregard for another number (his finish time) that keeps it going.
He soon blew past his goal of a 5k a month and finished the year with a total of 21! Yes twenty-one 5k’s. It’s this drive that inspires so many. He has even started a Facebook page for those who want to follow his journey, which currently has over 23,000 followers. Derek has become an example for so many looking to lose weight. He is a leader in that he wants to do it the right way.
I asked Derek what his most memorable finish was. He told me that it was the 5k he did on July 4th, 2015 in Washington D.C. He explained that he was running for Team RWB and carrying the American flag. I am sure he has inspired many memorable finishes.
When running he likes to keep things simple. I asked him what his favorite piece of running gear was, he said it was just his running shoes and a Buff. When many are wrapped up in getting the latest hi-tech gear or accessory, here he is in just the absolute basics.
Derek is the epitome of what we should all be, he may be last but he still takes pride in finishing. We should all own and take pride in the place we have, whether it’s first place or last. He said that the best advice he ever received was that he will at some point fail, but the only thing he could do was to get up and keep going and keep going is exactly what he has done.
We’ve all had our struggles, some with weight, or like me, cholesterol and blood pressure. Still others are driven by situations beyond their health such as family or work. Whatever drives us to keep going, we do it. What separates Derek? I think it’s his openness about his struggles and a willingness to share them. When he started walking, he put it out on social media and invited others to walk with him. Maybe we should all take a lesson from Derek and invite others to walk and struggle with us.