Where does motivation come from? For some, it starts with fear. For others, it starts with pain.
For Eric Hites, it may have come from a combination of both. Last summer at the age of 40, the Indiana native had nowhere else to turn so he turned to exercise. Specifically, he decided he was going to bike across America.
That’s a significant undertaking for anyone let alone one like Hites who weighed 567 pounds when he first hopped on a bicycle in Falmouth, MA the second week of June.
Hites did so for multiple reasons – his weight, of course, but also because he couldn’t hold down a job and therefore wasn’t making money. Worst of all, his wife Angie had left him.
“I wasn’t doing anything to help myself,” Hites, the self-proclaimed Fat Guy Across America, told us earlier this month. “Every time I tried to get up, I got beaten down and beaten down. Everything I touched turned to crap for a long time.”
So began a physical and spiritual journey in which Hites set out to find himself, and hopefully, in the process win back his wife. “I thought If I can do this, I can show her I’m willing to fight for our marriage, fight for our health and fight for our future,” he said.
Today, Hites is in Florida, relatively slow progress for one making a cross country trip. But Hites has never professed to be an Olympic athlete.
He merely has a goal. And while it may be easier for some to accomplish than others, the fact Hites is trying is noteworthy enough. He could have stayed down, but he decided to get up. He decided to keep fighting, embodying the spirit we promote here at X-Wear.
A Hero is Born
While his celebrity has brought him fans, it has also brought him detractors (like Dr. Phil) who have criticized Hites for his slow pace (five miles per day in the early stages). Others have claimed Hites is a scam artist, setting up a GoFundMe simply to make money off the venture.
As he closed in on Panama City two weeks ago, he shrugged off the criticism. He had completed 21.1 miles the day before and accomplished a major milestone – 100 miles in a week. “I feel a lot better,” he told X-Wear. “I’m getting strong every day and getting there.”
Yesterday, on his Facebook page, Hites shared a video his wife uploaded, showing that he had reached Pensacola, FL – almost into Alabama – and had completed a personal best: his first 35-mile ride in one day.
The trip represents Hites’ first real exercise in 20 years. When he does take days off, he tries to keep active, something he never would have done prior to embarking on this expedition. “A year ago I would have lay in bed and played video games all day,” he said. “This is making a huge difference… Before this I couldn’t walk 50 feet without dying. And my first day when I biked five miles, it took me all day to do it.”
The best part is that his wife has been there to witness it all. Well, most of it. Angie took him back two weeks into his trip when he was on Martha’s Vineyard and has since joined him, offering support from the confines of an RV.
Hites told us his goals have grown. “In the beginning it was just to fix myself and my marriage,” he said. “Now it’s to fix myself, my marriage and my life, but I also want to inspire other people who are ashamed to exercise.”
His advice for those who may be overweight sounds like a tagline for a famous shoe company – just do it. “It will make your life much better,” he said, stressing people should start small and build from there. “All they have to do is walk five feet and tomorrow six feet and the next day add another foot… If you keep going every day, eventually you’ll be doing stuff all day long and will be so much happier and healthier.”
Now it’s your turn: how will you turn your negatives into a positive? Take the first step with our Olukai Kia’i Trainer, the perfect sneaker for all-terrain training. Of course, you’ll want to bring some water which is where our Avex bottles come in handy. And if you’re like Hites and biking cross country, make sure to bring all your belongings in one of our durable backpacks. Finally, you’ll want to shield your eyes from the sun which is why we recommend polarized sunglasses, perfect for long days on the road.
To learn more about Eric Hites, visit his website.