His: One Step At A Time

Now, you might think I have this fit and healthy thing down to a science, but I have to be honest…I wasn’t always this way.  In college, I enjoyed all life had to offer (beer, wings, and beer), which resulted in a 25 lb. weight gain by the time I graduated.  I was unhappy with how I looked and felt, but didn’t do anything about it.

Al calls this my "curvy" phase.

Al calls this my "curvy" phase.

After graduation, I moved to Wheeling, West Virginia to take a job doing PR for a minor league hockey team (Go Nailers!)  If you’ve never been to Wheeling, you’re not missing much: it’s an old steel town with very little to see and even less to do.  Lucky for me, it provided the motivation I needed to get up and do something with myself…..boredom.

For the first few weeks in Wheeling, I would come home to my old-ass apartment and bat-crazy neighbors and just think to myself, “What the hell am I going to do?”  I did nothing, and I was bored out of my mind.  I had quit exercising in college, and it just didn’t occur to me that getting up and moving might be just what I needed.

Eventually,  I got fed up.  I hate the boredom and feeling depressed, my job wasn’t so great, and the town I lived in was so old that it was literally falling to pieces.  I needed to do something, so one day, I went for a bike ride to clear my head.  It was about 8 miles on flat terrain, but exercise it was (say that to yourself in a Yoda voice).  At the time, it wasn’t too difficult, but just getting my blood pumping that day was enough to go from feeling pretty hopeless to pretty good.

After a couple of rides, I decided it was time to step up my game and move on to running.  I played soccer for years, but hadn’t run consistently since high school.  I started over again with about 1.5 miles on a tread mill.  I stuck with that for almost 2 weeks, and moved up in half a mile increments every two weeks.  It was slow and steady, but I eventually built up my endurance and, most importantly, myself.  I found something to do that I really enjoyed and the weight came off easily.  Running gave me something to look forward to.  My motivation was no longer boredom, but pushing myself to see just how far I could go.

Long Island Marathon, April 2008

Long Island Marathon, April 2008

Several years, 25 fewer lbs, and many miles later, I’m still going.  I’ve since moved back from West Virginia and have a job (and a life) that I really enjoy.   Still, Wheeling taught me some important lessons.  Exercise, no matter why you do it, is just as important for your inner self as it is for your outer self.  I was neither happy nor healthy when I got to West Virginia, and it wasn’t making for a good life.  Once I started taking care of myself, I started feeling and looking better.  Ultimately, Wheeling wasn’t the best place for me, but it made me get off my ass and take charge of my life.

The thing is, you don’t start out running a marathon.  You’ve got to take it one step at a a time. Take control of your life and your health, and don’t expect to change overnight.  Be patient, but push yourself, and you’ll end up exactly where you want to be.


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