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Ricky Bova

Here's living proof that being overweight as a child doesn't mean you have to be overweight as an adult.

Ricky Bova

Written by Ricky Bova

As I kid, I battled obesity. It wasn’t easy to be healthy with so many convenient – and unhealthy – food choices available. I also watched hours of TV and spent most of the day on my PlayStation. I was teased for being that “fat kid” in school and on top of that, when I was only 15 years old, I was diagnosed with a form of arthritis that affects every one of my joints, something extremely rare for someone of my young age. I won’t ever forget that day: Everything just started to hurt at once. No one could figure out what was wrong. Emergency rooms, neurologists, X-rays, CT scans, MRIs – I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. The experience really took a toll on my confidence and my ability to do things that I loved. I had to quit playing football, a sport I really fell in love with.

It took me about a year to get back on my feet afterward. But medications had my condition under control, so I started getting back into sports. I never got back into football, but I did discover tennis and wrestling. I continued both throughout high school and even managed to wrestle for a year at the college level, but I could never really turn the corner when it came to getting into shape.

At college, I gained the freshman 50 – 50, not 15. It was bad. With the combination of cafeteria food, drinking and a mostly sedentary lifestyle, I really plummeted down a hole.

My weight skyrocketed to 250 pounds, and the worst part was that I didn’t even realize what I was doing to myself. I’d go to the gym because it was free and it made me feel like I was doing something good. But my workouts consisted of the stationary bike or the treadmill. If no one was looking, I might have picked up a weight. I didn’t want to make a fool out of myself in front of those guys who were muscular and in shape.

I studied Fire Science and went through a firefighter academy. I struggled to keep up during rescue drills and I ran out of air in my bottle way before anyone else did because I was so out...

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