AN INTERVIEW WITH MARATHON RUNNER, JOESAR WATKINS, FOR THE MY JOURNEY STORY SERIES.
LAC: When did you decide to start making your health a priority (what or whom inspired this decision) and what were your goals?
Joesar: I decided to start making healthier decisions in my life and treat my body right after my mother passed away (while I was a freshman at Ball State University). When my mother passed away from lung cancer in 2010, 15 days after my birthday, I decided that I would work out and take care of my body, not for myself, but for her. My goals are not anything crazy: just to stay as fit as possible and continue to push myself past my limits (like I know she would want me to). I also don’t want to be so weak that I cannot protect the ones I love, whether that is from a disease or an assault. I promised her when she was passing that I would protect the family and make sure no one else is taken too soon ever again.
LAC: How did you get started and what did you do to improve your health?
Joesar: At the time my mother was sick, I as an undecided major at Ball State, but when she passed away I decided my major would be Health Sciences so I could not only educate myself but also my friends and family about health problems and fitness. Since then I have helped my wife get into shape and my brother and his kids. I help with suggested workouts for all of them. I also run marathons, 5K’s, Spartan races, and attempted an Ironman. I compete in those races in my Mother’s memory and for my grandmother and father who are too elderly to run. My goal and motivation is that I work out for my friends and family who can’t themselves.
LAC: How did you stay motivated and what was the biggest challenge?
Joesar: The way I stay motivated is to remember why it is I work out and for whom I am running this race, for whom am I lifting this weight, and who am I trying to protect. I have a tattoo for my mother on my forearm so when I am running a race I can always look at it to remember why I push myself and that I am not alone in this world.
LAC: What positive changes did you see in your life and what did you learn throughout this process?
Joesar: There have been some positive changes in my life since I started taking better care of my body. Of course, I feel better internally and externally. I also started to gain muscle where I haven’t before and see the changes that most people want. However, the biggest change, and the one that I am most proud of, is not my own but my family’s. Since I have started taking better care of myself my entire family has followed suit. True, it might not be to the same level as my routine, but they are eating better and working out. My sisters who are overweight joined a gym and weight watchers and have lost noticeable weight, my brother’s entire family go to the gym now and watch what they eat. My other brother has always been fit but now takes it to the next level asking how to improve his strength when running races with me. Yet, the person I am most proud of is my father, a 68 year old retired Marine, getting up and doing some core work and a little weight training. He isn’t running marathons or dead lifting, but he is taking care of himself more. Thinking about that just makes me smile and feel great.
LAC: Final Thoughts? Is there anything else you would like share about your story?
Joesar: My story, just like everyone else’s, is forever going and as my family continues to grow with new members I hope they all see what we are doing and start to take care of their bodies at a young age. Through my journey I have realized that when I run races or lift weight I am not alone. I have my mother with me, cheering me on ever rep along the way. I will continue to work out for those who cannot themselves and help anyone who would like to make the change as I did, as my father did, as my family did.
Joesar was also one of the My Journey winners for January 2015!