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6 people who'll inspire you this year

By Matt Sloane and Jacque Wilson, CNN
updated 6:34 AM EST, Fri January 24, 2014
The CNN Fit Nation team will train to race in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon on September 14.
The CNN Fit Nation team will train to race in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon on September 14.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Every year CNN selects six iReporters to race in a triathlon with Dr. Sanjay Gupta
  • Three women and three men have been picked for the 2014 Fit Nation team
  • Follow the team on Twitter, Facebook and on CNN.com for updates on their training

Watch the Fit Nation team on "Sanjay Gupta | M.D." on Saturday at 4:30 PM ET and Sunday at 7:30 AM ET.

(CNN) -- Motivation is a tricky thing. We need it in every aspect of our lives: to get up in the morning and go to work, to start (and finish) that 10-page paper, to do laundry after a long day.

Yet the motivation to get healthy often eludes us. It hides in the form of excuses -- excuses for why we can't go to the gym or cook a healthy meal, why we can't get enough sleep or make time for ourselves.

Often we lack motivation because we lack inspiration.

Why I became a triathlete

Every year CNN selects iReporters to race in a triathlon with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and the Fit Nation team. This year we're giving six lucky readers a road bike (with all the necessary accessories), a wet suit and a gym membership to help them prepare for the Nautica Malibu Triathlon on September 14.

As they train for their first triathlon with support from our fitness and nutrition coaches, they'll blog, tweet and share their workouts online. You'll watch as they get ready to swim a half-mile in the ocean, bike 18 miles and run 4 miles along the Pacific coast.

We hope this year's Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge team will inspire you to make your own health a priority. Whether it's being a role model for your children, accomplishing a personal goal or simply being able to enjoy life, find your motivation for getting fit and eating better. If our past Fit Nation team members are any indication, you'll be happy you did. Meet this year's team:

Ron Cothran

Ron is a respiratory therapist in Pueblo, Colorado. He found out about the Fit Nation challenge after reading an article about one of last year's triathletes, Rae Timme, in the Pueblo newspaper.

Ron is turning 50 this year, and is determined to live the second half of his life better than the first half.

Ron recently underwent a gastric bypass, and has already lost a great deal of weight. But he's here to tell you, surgery is most certainly not the easy way out.

He says this challenge will help him take things to the next level.

Learn more about Ron's story on iReport

Sia Figiel

Sia is a Samoan woman who once weighed nearly 400 pounds. In her culture, she says, food is respect. But when she developed type 2 diabetes and eventually lost all her teeth because of it, she decided enough was enough!

She saw Annette Miller's progress on last year's Fit Nation team and decided to start walking and eating healthier. On her own, she lost 100 pounds, and now she's joining us to lose the rest.

She hopes to show the Samoan community that there's nothing positive about being overweight.

Learn more about Sia's story on iReport

Karen Manns

Karen is a detective with the Baltimore City Police Department. Genetics and years of wear and tear forced Karen to undergo two hip replacements before age 44. Her doctor told her she'd never run again.

She decided she was too young to be sedentary, so she, along with a personal trainer and her police partner (an accomplished marathoner) started training.

Today, Karen has worked her way up to a 10K! Her doctor is amazed, and now Karen is ready to take on a triathlon -- showing everyone who has ever had joint surgery that their mobility doesn't have to be limited.

Learn more about Karen's story on iReport

Jamil Nathoo

In 2013, 34-year-old Jamil was training for the South Beach Triathlon. Before he got the chance to race, tragedy struck.

Jamil was diagnosed with stage IIIC testicular cancer that had spread to his abdomen and chest. Chemo and surgery took a major toll on his body, drastically reducing his fitness level, and causing him to lose more than 20 pounds.

Now, the cancer is gone, and Jamil is ready to regain his fitness level, and officially kick cancer's butt.

UPDATE: Jamil had to have an additional surgery two weeks ago, but his doctors say as soon as he heals from the operation, he'll be on his way to becoming a triathlete.

Learn more about Jamil's story on iReport

Connie Sievers

Connie was always skinny, even through her three pregnancies. But when her daughter developed cancer, and ultimately passed away, Connie gained more than 70 pounds.

It's been more than 18 years since her daughter died, but Connie has not been able to shake the weight.

One of her sons married a former collegiate triathlete, who is encouraging the whole family to do races with her. Connie was the last one to say yes; her first race will be the Nautica Malibu Triathlon with the CNN team and her whole family.

Learn more about Connie's story on iReport

Mike Wilber

Mike is a single dad, a physical education teacher, and a track and football coach in upstate New York, but he's always been a big guy.

It wasn't until a congenital heart defect revealed itself, in the form of a stroke, that Mike decided it was time to get in shape. It's been several years since the stroke, and he hasn't had a lot of success. Now he's concerned if he doesn't make a change, he may not be around for his four kids.

He's ready to show his family, his students and his community what he's made of.

Learn more about Mike's story on iReport

Follow the Fit Nation team on Twitter, Facebook and on CNN.com for updates on their training progress.

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