It has been almost a year since I started taking my health more seriously, so I figured on this anniversary I'd write about what got me started. I'm definitely not a role model or health nut, but I feel as I become "well-matured" it is something that I should stay on top of. So here's my story.
A long time ago...
In March 2017, I was getting ready for a client meeting and decided I'd up my game by getting a new shirt. Honestly, my shirts had all seemed to shrink on me, so I was hoping to get something that was less snug. While I was at the store, I had this really embarrassing moment when I realized it wasn't the shirts that were shrinking. Somehow I had marked off another X on the increasing list of letters on my shirt's tag. It was the first and only time I've ever needed to purchase an XXL, and wearing that shirt the next day did not give me any of the confidence I had originally set out looking for when purchasing new clothes.
At my client meeting, I honestly felt ashamed. I constantly pulled at the shirt, and for some reason wanted to apologize for wearing such large clothing. I was completely out of my element.
Around this same time, we also got some unexpected news. My wife was pregnant. I was at my largest and about to embark upon a 9-month adventure of binge eating and "slowing down." This is when I decided to make a drastic change.
Enter, the Coach.
I had done quite a few self-paced diet plans before and with decent success. However, I always seemed to drop off after a couple months and wanted to find some way to keep myself motivated. This was going to be a life change, not a crash or fast or anything that I wouldn't be able to keep up with for years to come.
After much research, I found a really intriguing offering from Weight Watchers called "Coaching". My family used to swear by Weight Watchers, and my uncle lost quite a bit of weight and has kept it off. To me, when I thought of Weight Watchers it was just a bunch of overweight women talking about the cookies they ate the night before. Coaching promised to be more tailored to my lifestyle, and I could pick when I wanted to have a weekly phone meeting. Even better, I wasn't limited to one meeting a week, I could call anytime I needed some extra motivation.
My first coach was an older man named Martin. He was amazing, and just encouraged me to do the best I could. We mostly focused on the eating part of things and getting my appetite under control. However, eventually, he told me I needed to really spend time on setting some weekly activity goals.
I, like most red-blooded Americans, hate exercise. I purposely didn't write "hated" exercise because I still hate exercise. This is not a story about me finding a calling for intense exercise and learning to bench 5 plates. Martin taught me that activity is just moving, that's all, and I needed to do more of it.
I started with (what I thought was) the lowest cost of entry and began to walk. I used to walk quite a bit when I was fresh out of college and didn't have anywhere particular to be. I remember going for miles with my friend Josh, just to see how far we could go. It was kind of nostalgic to get back into that again, though at first, I could go for a mile, singular.
Walking is still a staple of my weekly routine, and I found out something interesting about walking: It gets you to places you need to go, without breaking much of a sweat. I could walk to work, walk to the store, walk over to my in-law's house to pick up my daughter, and then take her for a walk back home.
I find it calming to not consider it as actual exercise, but rather a form of transportation. It's definitely not free though. Just like a car, I've had my fair share of maintenance and tune-ups over the last year, not to mention a steady stream of new insoles for my shoes. Oh, and shoes.
The best part about walking is how much life you get to soak in during the journey. When you drive somewhere, you get in your car and you're there (at least in Hastings where the average commute is 5 minutes). When you walk, you meet people, you hear things, stuff happens along the way. One time I was walking and this lady came out screaming Spanish words in a panic. I didn't know what she was saying but knew I needed to follow her. She took me to her apartment building where a man with no legs had fallen out of his wheelchair, and I helped lift him back up. This is a story that only would have happened had I walked that day.
Biking is fun, but not as relaxing as walking. I got into biking pretty early on, but always feel nervous about my bike getting stolen because I can never remember the combo on the lock. Additionally, I rate it a two on the sweatiness scale. The main reason it's not relaxing is it makes me go faster, which means I have to always be paying attention to cars. I can't really zone out to a podcast between blocks because it just takes one person running a stop sign to ruin my day. I do enjoy it though.
Biking is a great way to get places faster. It made me able to enjoy a longer lunch break because I spent less of my time traveling. It also makes me feel more like I am actually burning energy instead of on a leisurely stroll.
I enjoy biking, but I really needed something in between.
When I bought my first skateboard at 31, I sort of felt like I was having a mid-life crisis. I wanted something fun, but that I could also just use to take slow trips and enjoy the view. Sure, I fall on my ass more often than not, and any sort of rough terrain is basically a game ender. I might spend more time walking my skateboard than riding it, but when I find a good hill and get going REALLY fast… well, there's just nothing like it. It makes me feel youthful, and it also feels like a skill I will have to constantly build. It's not just activity, it is a craft that must be learned.
Now that it is a year later, I no longer need a coach to stay motivated, but I still utilize the Weight Watchers Online program to stay on track. It's about the cost of Netflix, and I don't have to feel guilty about spending an hour on it. Changing to a mindset where driving is the last resort has really helped me stay active and be successful in the program. It also makes me feel like I have created a plan for keeping healthy for years to come, which affords me some amazing confidence in my daily choices.
The current total of weight loss for the year is about 90 pounds. That is an insane number, and I can't believe I was ever up that high. At the same time, I know how easy it is to let it happen, so I stay active.