Envy, Oprah, Marathon, and Dreams

Envy. Such a bitter place to be yet I spent a ton of time there. I’d always look at movie stars, athletes, even fit people next to me at the grocery store; all with equal envy. I wanted that body. I wanted to feel that good about myself. I wanted to wear those clothes. I wanted what they had. It all seemed so unattainable to me. Instead doing something to advance those desires, I would sit on the couch eating Ben & Jerry’s by the pint and be envious of all they had and all they were able to do. I can’t imagine how much time I wasted doing that. Dreaming of a life while sitting down and almost guaranteeing it would never happen for me. 

I remember when Oprah Winfrey lugged that red wagon out on her show with the representation of 80lbs of fat that she lost on her first public diet. I also remember thinking that if I had millions of dollars, a personal chef, and virtually unlimited funds that I, too, could truck out a wagon of fat. I love Oprah but this didn’t motivate me at all. If anything, it only fueled my envy. Again, unattainable. Cue the Ben & Jerry’s! 

Then Oprah did something that really opened my eyes. She ran a marathon. Why was this a game changer? Here’s what her trainer Bob Greene said in an interview (paraphrased):

 People give Oprah zero respect with her weight loss because she’s rich and she as access to personal chefs and home gyms but what they don’t understand is that to run a marathon you have to train. Her chef isn’t getting up at 4am to run 10 miles before a full day of filming. She’s doing that. She works more hours than most people can imagine and she puts in the time to do this. No one can run a marathon for you. You have to do it yourself and she is doing it. 

And she really did it. She completed the Chicago marathon in 4:34! Impressive for a first time marathoner. What she also did was show the world that things can be done. She put the marathon into an accessible category for people who are not marathoners. Like me. I was always fascinated by distance runners but never thought I could be one. Marathon running became this check box on a distant bucket list that will never ticked to completion. I just stayed envious of those who completed them. 

What became very apparent with weight loss surgery was the level of desire to succeed you have to have to make a long term change. That’s what I’d been missing all along. The dream is free but the hustle costs extra. I never had the hustle but I lived in dreams. That’s what made the difference with Oprah running the marathon. She could want it but if she didn’t put in the work she wouldn’t get there. 

The night before the NYC Marathon I attended the Fred’s Team dinner for all the runners supporting Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. The opening speech was from one of the team coaches who said something so amazing that it set the tone for the run for me. 

If you followed the training plan then you’ve run 852 miles. From this spot in Manhattan it’s like running to Chicago, Montreal, or South Carolina. 

The dream was to be there. The hustle was the training to get there. You can spend your life dreaming or wishing but in all seriousness you have to remember this: 


What do you want? Make it happen!

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