COON RAPIDS, Minn. -- Richard Jamison says he wallowed in self-pity for many years after losing both of his legs in a trucking accident.
"I felt like nothing--what good am I?" Richard recalls. "I even thought about suicide, because I'm not a whole man anymore."
Over the years Richard neglected his health, living a sedentary life and eating mostly canned goods. Over several years he had four heart attacks and a stroke.
Last May Richard decided to make the most of what he did have.
"It took me a good maybe ten years to realize that, hey, where's my life? It's all gone. I gotta get it back," said Richard, who is 69.
In May, 2016 Richard began boarding the Metro Mobility bus in his wheelchair at his home in Fridley in order to get to the Coon Rapids YMCA for a workout. He has stayed dedicated to visiting the gym three days a week ever since then.
"When I get up in the morning, I don't want to come (to the gym), but I know if I don't, that's the end of it," said Richard. "So I force myself to come here. Once I get here, I'm ready."
Richard spends about two and a half hours lifting weights and doing carding on the arm cycling machine during each gym visit.
He has also cleaned up his diet, replacing canned goods with frozen vegetables and meat to refuel his muscles.
Over the months Richard's health steadily improved and his weight dropped.
"I set a goal--okay get in the Y, I'm going to lose weight, I'm going to build my upper body," said Richard. "I wanted to lose at least 20 pounds. I reached my goal weight. I lost 20 pounds about a month and a half ago. My doctor says I'm the healthiest I've been in years."
Richard's doctor's advice was to keep doing his workouts, because his diabetic and cholesterol numbers were going down.
In 2017 Richard took on a new challenge--swimming.
"I haven't swum in over 30-something years," said Richard. "I wanted to find out if I could swim again, because last time I swam I had my whole body, and I wasn't sure if I was going to sink or swim."
With the help of a YMCA trainer, Richard was able to swim again for the first time. He swims laps in the small pool at the Y for about 30 minutes once a week. His goal is to eventually swim laps in the large pool, then compete in the Paralympics.
"I have proven to myself in the past ten months what I can do and to put out more goals for me to reach, because I know if I try hard enough, I can reach them," said Richard.
The depression Richard used to battle with has gone away--replaced by a sense of accomplishment.
"I want to get to live a long time," said Richard. "I've got grandkids that are getting married. They're going to have children. I want to be around for my great-grandchildren."