Mindy Campbell, a software testing consultant who traveled with him to and from Chicago, started rising early in the morning to join him in the hotel gym. If she didn’t wake up on her own, he’d call her and let the phone ring until she answered.
Campbell, a 29-year-old mother of four, was so inspired by Coleman that she joined the YMCA and started running. She can now run four miles a day, and her weight has plummeted from 181 to 158 pounds.
Coleman "kind of forced me over the edge,” she said, "because I noticed him dropping weight like crazy and eating healthier. I just kind of picked up his habits and started doing better.”
Software engineer Judi Smith, 57, was diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure.
"Seeing the commitment that Joseph (Coleman) made really inspired me to get up and do something to try to eliminate or reduce some of my health issues,” she said.
On Jan. 15, Smith quit eating bread, processed sugar, beef and potatoes, among other items. Now she snacks on apples, cucumbers, baby carrots and cherry tomatoes and spends 30 minutes on a treadmill each day. Her weight has dropped from 223 to 173 pounds.
"We refuse to call it a diet,” Smith said. "We call it a change in lifestyle.”
General manager James Wright, 44, encouraged everyone in the office — about 11 people — to follow Coleman’s lead. Now the staff takes walks together, shares dining tips and compares workouts.
"People start expressing that they care about each other,” said Wright, who has lost 18 pounds in three months. "From a functional standpoint, it builds a team, too. It encourages them to know each other and support each other.”
A very happy ending
A week ago, Coleman completed the half-marathon at the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon.
"I ran the whole way,” he said, smiling. "That was my goal. I didn’t want to stop running.”
It doesn’t seem likely that he will. In person, he is dramatically different from the hulking man staring out of a 2008 photograph. That man looks unhappy and uncomfortable, trapped within his own body. The new Coleman practically glows with vitality.
Here’s the best part.
Coleman and his wife, Sara, wanted children, but doctors told them it wasn’t possible because they were too big.
He lost all that weight. His wife dropped 100 pounds.
In December, they learned that Sara is pregnant. Their first child, a boy, is due this summer.
"Everything’s better now,” Coleman said.
"I feel like I can do anything I want.”