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Bill Gosse column: Like Sawlsville on 'Extreme Makeover,' overcome fear with action

9:33 PM, Jun. 29, 2013  |  Comments
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I typically don't watch reality shows, but when I discovered a local young man would be featured on ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition," I admit I was curious.

I also was drawn by the appearances of Clay Matthews, Donald Driver and the possibility of someone I knew showing up in the background of a couple scenes.

I'm glad I had a free night to watch what turned out to be two hours of inspiration.

In case you've never seen the program, someone is selected to participate in a year-long journey to lose an incredible amount of weight.

Ryan Sawlsville, a 23-year-old Appleton native, started his challenge by weighing in at 410 pounds.

That much weight would be challenge enough, but Sawlsville's situation was more complicated because he has only a right arm after losing his left in an auto accident several years ago.

Understandably, Sawlsville didn't feel very good about himself and was quoted as saying he was damaged goods.

Needless to say, he had roadblocks standing in the way of his goal to weigh 195 pounds one year later.

There always will be obstacles in our lives - whether physical or mental. However, it is our choice whether we let them stop us or spur us onward.

During the show, host and trainer Chris Powell not only tries to help people lose weight, but also helps change their lives by overcoming fears and developing better habits.

Sawlsville was indeed overweight, but he also had a fear Powell wasn't going to let slide by - a fear of riding a bike.

Biking is a great form of exercise, but earlier in Sawlsville's life, he had a balance issue and never really rode bikes. After his accident, he was afraid he wouldn't be able to ride with one arm.

Despite numerous falls, Powell coaxed Sawlsville to move forward. He coached him to overcome fear with action, all the way to 193 pounds.

If we let it, fear can immobilize us.

Instead of focusing on fear, we must simply get started, which often is the most difficult and frightening part of reaching a goal.

In the movie "We Bought a Zoo," Matt Damon taught his son that having 20 seconds of courage helps overcome fears, especially when approaching pretty girls.

Skateboarders also know they must conquer fears to push their limits.

Whether it's an empty pool, skatepark or hill, skateboarders have to get their start somewhere - by stepping out in action.

Think how much harder it would be to skate with your eyes closed.

Amazing 20-year-old Tommy Carroll is a blind skateboarder.

Losing his eyes at age 2 to cancer of the retina, Carroll never remembers being able to see. However, since age 10, he's learned to navigate skateparks the same way he learned to find his way around home, schools or workplaces - by stepping out in faith.

Ryan and Tommy flushed all excuses and cured fear with action.

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