Chris Holley grew up in Thousand Oaks and pretty much did it all as an athlete. “I played football, wrestled and swam,” he remembers. “I thought of myself as a good all-around athlete. Our football coach wanted us to run track, but that didn’t appeal to me. Swimming was definitely a better sport for me.”
Out of college Holley became an IT professional and traveled the globe designing email systems for Fortune 500 companies. “It was a busy time,” he continues. “I went from 40 hour work weeks to 80 hour work weeks and all we did was work, eat and sleep.”
It was the eating part that really started to become an issue. Before he knew it, Holley was hovering at 380 pounds and his go-to meals were primarily convenience food.
“I loved going to Burger King for Whoppers plus I had a sweet tooth,” he continues. “It wouldn’t be out of line for me to have five or six donuts or brownies at one sitting.”
His waist size was now 62 inches and one of his clients became concerned. He pulled Holley aside and told him that the company was concerned about his health, that he was getting pretty big.
“I was in denial, so I just brushed it off,” he says. “I avoided scales because I didn’t want to know that I was over 380 and closing in on 400 pounds. I’d work all week and then go to the local bar on the weekends to try and escape those 80 hour work weeks. I felt trapped, like this was the best my life was ever going to be.”
One night he passed out in a friend’s bathroom at a party and when he woke up, he checked himself out in the mirror and didn’t like what he saw. “I knew right then that I needed to make some major changes so I immediately stopped drinking and started working out at 24 Hour Fitness. That one night changed everything for me.”
His workouts consisted of trying to run for a minute or so at a time on the treadmill.
He realized early on that he needed to be patient, that he couldn’t undo years of abusing himself overnight.
Step number one was to get out from under working 80 hours a week. He went from being an IT Consultant to moving into tech support.
He wouldn’t be on call, he could cap his hours at 40 hours per week and he could wear shorts and flip flops to work.
Besides coming with a huge pay cut, what’s not to like?
In 2010 he signed up for the Tri Rock Triathlon in San Diego and completed the 500 yard swim, 12 mile bike and 3.1 mile walk/run even though he still weighed 350 pounds.
That first triathlon didn’t change his life, but the next one, the ITU race in San Diego’s Mission Bay definitely did.
The year was 2013 and he signed up four weeks before the race. He went off in the very last wave and came out of the water in tenth place in that wave.
He has since lost a total of 200 pounds, tutors people on nutrition, is a swim coach for the Triathlon Club of San Diego teaching adults how to swim and has completed four Ironman Triathlons.
Last October he went to Kona to watch the Ironman World Championship, proposed to his girlfriend and will be getting married on June 10.
Plus, he secured a slot in 2017 the Ironman World Championship by committing to raise funds for Smile Train, a charity that helps kids around the globe who need surgery and after care for a Cleft Lip.
“When I finished that ITU race in San Diego,” he insists, “I knew this is where I needed to be.”
Chris Holley’s fundraising page is at www.50k2kona.com.