One year ago, Steve Vaught weighed 180 kilograms. The morbidly obese 40-year-old also suffered from depression. "That was just too much weight," he says. "I knew that if I didn't do anything about it in the next couple of years, things would start to go bad, [would] really start to get physically bad, and I really needed to find a way to cure my problems."
The self-proclaimed "Fat Man Walking" took up the reins of his life and set out on foot across the country. The 4,800-kilometer weight-loss odyssey began in California last April and ended on May the 9th in New York. Along the way to shedding 50 kilograms, Vaught wore out 15 pairs of shoes and suffered numerous stress fractures and blisters.
But he says the journey was about more than weight loss. "When I left I thought that I had 15 or 20 emotional problems that I had to sort out, and when I got into the desert for a few months and then I realized that my problem was that I thought I had 15 or 20 emotional problems to sort out," he says. "It was like, 'get over yourself already, and just sort of look at yourself. You are really hanging on to the past or you are too worried about the future and you are not living in the moment.' And that is where you lose a lot of time. That is where I lost probably lost 13 or 14 years of my life because I didn't deal with the moment and that's what I learned. I learned that you really have to enjoy what you have right now."
Vaught shared his journey with people he met on the way and with those who logged on to his website. He says he didn't expect the response he got. "I left thinking that most of the world was just going to be harsh and uncaring, and I got out there and I realized that given the opportunity, almost every single person I met has been not merely good, but just great. People have really gone out of their way. And that's been amazing."
Vaught says the walk changed his life. What is he going to do now? He says he's not sure, but that he is "healthier, happier and hopeful."