Dyson’s Obesity Battle

Photo by Omari Dyson

Photo by Omari Dyson

Dr. Omari Dyson is a college professor in the Department of Education at Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. Dyson along with teaching is known for his workout plans as a certified personal and group exercise trainer. At 5’8 and 198 pounds with eight percent of body fat, Dyson sets an example for others by exercising five times a week and maintaining a healthy diet. Dyson trains people because he enjoys giving back, and he knows from personal experience troubles of losing weight.

Photo by Omari Dyson

Photo by Omari Dyson

Dyson was not always physically fit and ate healthy foods. In the summer of 1994, Dyson went to the pediatrician when he was transitioning from eighth to ninth grade at Mount Saint Michael Academy in the Bronx, New York. The pediatrician diagnosed Dyson as obese. Dyson at the age of 13 was 5’6 and 140 pounds with 35 percent of body fat. The word obese was unfamiliar to Dyson, so he asked his father, Leroy Dyson, what the word meant. His father told him it meant he was fat. Despite the diagnosis from the pediatrician, Dyson still did not reach his breaking point.

Photo by Ameen Hall

Photo by Ameen Hall

Dyson turning point would come when his family went on vacation to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. He took a picture when he was shirtless in a hotel room.

“After seeing the picture I ripped it up and went to my room and started crying,” said Omari Dyson.

Photo by Ameen Hall

Photo by Ameen Hall

Another turning point is when Dyson started the ninth grade. In his physical education class, Dyson could not run one lap around the track and quit after the first 50 meters.   Dyson believed football could help with his weight problems, and it was a sport he was interested in playing. After telling the football coach he wanted to play running back, the coach gave him a look of disapproval.

“The coach made me feel like I didn’t belong there,” said Omari Dyson.

Dyson was now determined to lose weight. Dyson not privileged to having Google or fact-checking applications began his weight-loss journey based on misinformation. Dyson heard if you sleep 24 hours you could lose one pound. Therefore, he started sleeping long hours and waking up to riding a stationary bike. Also, he thought by starving himself would assist him in losing weight.

Finally, Dyson weight loss would come unexpectedly when Coach Wagner, wrestling coach at Mount Saint Michael Academy, asked him if he was interested in trying out for the wrestling team. Dyson tried out for the wrestling team and was determined not to give up. The wrestling team started with 120 males trying out, and Dyson was one of the 30 to make the team. The coach told him he wanted Dyson to be in the 119 pounds weight class to wrestle. Dyson was in disbelief, but he would lose weight thanks to the wrestling practice.

“Everyday seemed like I was losing weight, and I became more concerned about losing weight than wrestling,” said Omari Dyson.

Sophomore year Dyson was 110 pounds and was more confident than ever. The one lap around the track he quit on in the past was no longer a problem and sometimes he would complete his lap first.

Dyson is currently training to be a nutrition specialist to add to his other certifications. He is currently working on grants in hopes of getting more funding to help a larger range of people with weight loss. Dyson plans to continue to help others as he wished someone had helped him as a child.

“Obesity is a disease, and it’s linked to poverty and education; and I will continue to help others fight the disease in a safe, healthy and effective way,” said Omari Dyson.

photo by Ameen Hall

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