Student Voice


November 29, 2022




Losing weight proves to be taxing, ultimately worthwhile struggle

September 18, 2014

“Billy, how did you do it?”

“What’s your secret?”

“Can I get some advice?”

You are probably wondering what these vague questions refer to. My friends have repeatedly asked me these questions and they continue to be astounded by what I did. These questions refer to one of my greatest accomplishments I have completed in my life: losing 100 pounds.

As a young boy I faced the common issue in our society: obesity. I remember nervously standing on the weight scale at each doctor’s visit. At the age of nine I already weighed 100 pounds; in junior high school I reached 150 pounds; and at the age of 16 I hit the big 200.

I entered UW-River Falls in 2009. Due to the high stress of adapting to a new educational institution, my weight ascended. When I hit my senior year I reached 245 pounds. For those of you who have seen the Disney film “Up,” and remember the little, chubby Asian boy scout named Russell, imagine him in real life–but double the size.

I was a very big guy; I would always be conscious that my big face dominated my body.

As a little round boy it was apparent that I was made fun of everywhere I went, and the most frequent occurrences took place at school. I was mostly called “fat” or “fat ass.” A memory that stood with me was the orientation of junior high when we were to visit our homeroom before we chronologically touring our assigned classes. As I walked and sat at my desk there was one student who beheld me, imitated the size of my head, and chuckled with his friend.

These negative memories became my inner-demons, which evoked me to not care, and led me to continue my weight gain. However, I soon realized my physical body was out of shape, my breathing became uncomfortable, and I was highly self-conscious.

In February 2013, I discovered that I lost 20 pounds, dropping my weight from 245 to 225. It was this surprise discovery that motivated me to challenge myself; therefore I decided to lose five more pounds. Although it took me two weeks to lose those five pounds, I was happy to see that my weight was slowly dropping.

By the time I reached 220 pounds I wanted to continue challenging myself and see if I could lose five more pounds. Once I lost those five pounds, I wanted to continue losing five more pounds. By the end of April, my weight dropped to 190 pounds. I decided to drop my weight to 145 pounds by the end of that summer.

I, of course, did reach my goal, but during my journey I came into an epiphany that taught me a life lesson. If you want to lose weight or achieve any goal, you must have three important components, which I believed helped me: determination, commitment and passion.

You have to feel these three components for they are your best friends that will strongly move you until the goal has been reached. Although these components are beside you, there will always be the darkness, such as temptation to succumb. You must persist to hold on.

There was a steep slope that I ran up for the first time; it was a struggle and I had to stop to walk up the slope. Every day I persist to overthrow the slope with my determination, commitment and passion. I knew I could not give up. Through these three components, along with motivational music in my iPod, I was able to strive for the top of the slope.

Once I ran and reached the top of the hill, I knew I was worthy. I knew I could do anything with great confi- dence. I knew this would be my greatest accomplishment. It brought me great happiness, for I have done something incredible. All you have to do is strongly believe in yourself.

Billy Thao is a student at UW-River Falls.