This evening started with a thunderstorm, but now, the sky glows above the LSU lakes. Chad Soileau’s feet, encased in neon nylon, splash on the pavement. He’s beaming.
But he never forgets the man he used to be. All 464 pounds of that guy, the guy who stayed inside all the time and ate way too much and cocooned himself in front of the television.
That other Chad is always there, in size 60 pants, sad because he can’t reach to tie his shoes.
Without that guy, Soileau wouldn’t have been motivated to become the man he is today, a chiseled 215 pounds.
This year alone, Soileau has competed in 18 triathlons and a marathon. In his sights is an Ironman-distance Triathlon, with a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and 26.2-mile run.
When Soileau thinks about all the twists in this road he’s taken, his eyes fill up with tears. For him, weight loss isn’t about vanity.
Soileau realized in early 2006 he had to get in shape if he wanted to stay alive.
“It was a bad, miserable place,” he says.
Doctors performed gastric bypass surgery on him that year. He endured multiple complications and more surgeries, but he kept his fitness dream alive. He imagined crossing finish lines and sprinting on a bike.
But first, he had to be able to drive without his gut hitting the steering wheel.
He had to plant a garden.
Hometown: Greenwell Springs
Title: Director of Web Services for Hunt Brothers of Louisiana
He had to ride a roller coaster.
He made a game out of naming the cold, hard evidence that he was beating obesity. He made a list and checked off each milestone, both the mundane and the heroic. He even created a racing team
for himself and named it Team 464.
Now, when his muscles feel like kindling, gnawed and chewed by fire, he just grins.
“I do it for the pain. For me, it’s what makes me know I’m alive.”