Cyclist to ride across Australia to highlight obesity fight
Marcoola resident Shannon Taylor will be setting off on his bicycle this October with the mission to ride across Australia; raising awareness for mental health relating to obesity and educating the public on weight loss surgery.
Mr Taylor underwent weight loss surgery in April 2018 after losing large amounts of weight naturally, but feeling defeated by the constant regain.
The weight loss surgery completely changed Mr Taylor's outlook on life and his attitude to health and fitness.
"Obesity isn't seen as a mental health issue, but rather as a physical illness. Where I see that the two go hand-in-hand," Mr Taylor said.
Depression and severe social anxiety led to Mr Taylor becoming obese.
"I found myself getting worse as my physical form crossed deeper and deeper over society standards of acceptable. This made me stay at home more and eat more, which goes to show how hard an addiction to food really is," Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor likened his unhealthy relationship with food to a drug addiction.
"Understanding this [unhealthy] relationship so you can better see it for what it is, makes building a more healthy lifestyle more accessible," Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor provided sound advice for those faced with similar demons.
"With self-esteem, it's something that won't be fixed overnight, because as humans we care a lot about what others think. By taking time to appreciate what you can do and what you have, rather than spending time to dwell on what you don't or can't you will form a better relationship with yourself," Mr Taylor said.
Motherly advice also assisted Mr Taylor with his emotional and physical recovery post-weight loss surgery.
"My mum used to always say you can't love someone else unless you love yourself first … if we don't do that then we will always be drowning in our own insecurities and self-doubts," Mr Taylor said.
A journey across Australia on a bicycle is Mr Taylor's next challenge.
Mr Taylor is hoping his bike ride will showcase how weight loss surgery, when partnered with the right mindset, can change a person's life.
Mr Taylor hopes he can influence and change other people's lives for the better by motivating them to see the potential they can unlock when they set goals and seek betterment.
A foundation that addresses mental health issues related to obesity will be set up by Mr Taylor with funds he hopes to raise from the event.
"We are hoping to set up programs all over Australia where people can connect with others [and] have a support network behind them … they can talk to psychologists and nutritionists to better understand their relationship with food," Mr Taylor said.
The names of all those who donate to Mr Taylor's crowd funding page will be displayed on his bicycle helmet.
As a final hurdle, or "cherry on top," as Mr Taylor describes it, at the finish line in Western Australia, Mr Taylor plans to take part in the half ironman event in Busselton.
Training for the cycle across Australia was halted when Mr Taylor was hit by a car on the Sunshine Coast three weeks ago.
Mr Taylor was lucky to escape with minor injuries.
"Honestly, it isn't ideal, but I have to look at the positives. I could of (sic) been a lot worse off injury-wise and at least it happened far enough away from the ride that I should be able to get my fitness back by then to make it happen," Mr Taylor said.
Mr Taylor has not lost his sense of humour post-accident, and describes his life story to date as, "Man loses 95 kilograms, gets hit by a car, and rides across Australia. Gotta look for those silver linings."
The Virtual Brisbane Half Marathon was completed at a walking pace, which Mr Taylor said was not ideal, but it was better than not finishing at all, and he hopes his tenacity inspires others to refuse to quit when "the going gets tough."
Post-bicycle ride across Australia, Mr Taylor would love to continue to do a full lap around the world spreading his story, and inspiring others to be the best version of themselves.
Follow Mr Taylor's story on Instagram at: @shannons_story