How Running Refueled Erik Catacora’s 140-Pound Weight Loss
Four years ago, Erik Catacora weighed close to 400 pounds.
“I was very unhealthy, fatigued, and not sleeping well,” recalls the 39-year-old resident of Sayerville, NJ. “I knew I wouldn’t live long unless I changed things around.”
It took one very bad night’s sleep in April 2013 for Erik to take action. “I turned on my computer and googled ‘how to lose weight’ and Weight Watchers popped up,” he says. “I joined the next morning.”
Over the next year and a half, Erik lost 100 pounds with the help of Weight Watchers. Then he hit a plateau. “I was very active, mostly swimming and biking,” he says, “but thought maybe I couldn’t lose any more weight.” That’s when he faced his biggest fear—running.
Erik took up the sport in August 2016 and has since lost 40 more pounds—and gained a hefty dose of self-confidence.
“After I ran my first 5K in December 2016, I saw a friend I hadn’t seen for a while—an avid runner—and he said I should run the NYRR Staten Island Half in October and that he would run it with me,” Erik recalls. “I thought he was nuts, but I had enough time to train, so I signed up. Staten Island is my home town—born and raised—so I thought it would be fitting.”
Though his friend has backed out of the race because of a foot injury, Erik’s still on board. “After doing a few races already, I am comfortable doing it alone, knowing thousands will be alongside me trying to reach the same goal,” he says.
With each mile he logs, Erik is helping to bust the myth that some people are just too big to run. “I would definitely take it slow at first, but it’s more mental—give it a try, stick with it, and that myth will fade away for sure,” he says.
With just weeks to go until race day, Erik’s looking forward to the surreal feeling that comes with doing something he thought he could never do. “All the hard work is coming down to one day, and reaching the finish line will be emotional for me,” he says. “I WILL finish—for myself and for anyone who says they are too big to run.”
Join Erik for a scenic 13.1 miles: Register today for the NYRR Staten Island Half on Sunday, October 8!