I remember what finally made me do it.
I had just spent a week in the most beautiful place I had ever been: Alaska. Words can’t really sum up the grandeur of the mountains or the vibrancy of the tidal inlets. It just is. And it was breathtaking.
But when I got back and started looked at the pictures, it wasn’t the beauty that stood out most: It was me. I had become unhealthy. I gave into food in the previous three years in a way that was physically defeating.
I decided it was time for change.
This wasn’t a vain, “I want abs” type thing. It was a, “I can’t climb steps like a normal person.” I had become a slave to my stomach. Heart problems and diabetes were rolling over the horizon like storm clouds.
But let me admit something: I’m cheap. Not frugal. Cheap. Always have been. My wife has helped me become a more generous person, but it’s something I have to work on. So my decision to change wasn’t going to come by filling up a gallon of water, hitting weights, and paying Sven money to yell at me while I became a sweating circus act in the middle of some gym floor.
No, I was going to do this the cheap way: Running. It doesn’t cost anything. I can do it on my schedule. And if I picked the right path, no one would see me.
The first day, I barely made it a mile. I took my dog and, I’m not making this up, he passed me walking while I “ran.” He’s part Basset Hound, so his legs are about the height of popsicle sticks. I thought to myself, What a joke.
But I kept going. Day after day, I kept going. I ran in the Texas heat. I ran in the wind. I ran in the rain. I ran on consecutive days. I ran on Thanksgiving.
I logged all my calories. All of them. Every last stinking bite, I logged it. Even when I ate bad.
Something started happening. My clothes started fitting better. People started commenting not on my weight, but on how healthy I looked. I lost 12 pounds in the first month, 33 pounds in six months, and by a year I was down 50 pounds.
It was hard. So hard. I wasn’t losing weight, I was changing my lifestyle. My habits. My comforts.
But it all started one day, with one decision. And then a series of similar decisions. I remember the first day I said enough was enough. I had to tell myself out loud that I was going to put on my running shoes and shorts and go. Out loud. Talking to myself. I literally had to motivate myself to take those steps. Small, deliberate steps.
Yup, I totally just pulled that card. You’ve probably heard it a million times.
One foot in front of the other.
Take your time.
Don’t focus on the insurmountable.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Doesn’t that all just tick you off sometimes, though? We just want to know the exact plan that will produce the exact results, how long it will take, and what it’s going to be like along the way.
But that’s not how it works. It takes baby steps. A series of good decisions outweighing the bad ones.
Ryan Hall is an Olympic runner. He runs distances that are greater than my age. I found something recently that he wrote that puts it well:
It’s not exciting to make baby steps. I’m a dreamer. I always envision making giant leaps in training, but this has never been the case. The key to becoming great at anything is consistency over a long period of time. So this has become my goal. Constantly train year round, not trying to hit mega-miles or crazy workouts, just simple hard, smart, training that leads to gradual improvement rather than taking big risks in training for immediate gains.
In our culture today, myself included, we are constantly looking for the quick-fix or how to fast forward the process. We are high-achievers that want to climb the ladder faster and skip rungs if we have to, which leads to us slipping and falling down the ladder at times. I’ve learned not to rush the process, not to be greedy, but to keep my head down and baby step along towards big goals.
You know why I found that? Because even though I changed my lifestyle three years ago, I’ve again needed to be reminded how to do it. See, after I got healthy in 2012, it lasted about a year. Then I had shoulder surgery, which got me off my running routine. Slowly, gradually, I started reverting back to who I was in the pictures in Alaska.
It’s hard to climb stairs again.
I got rid of all my “big” clothes. I’m buying those same sizes again.
I feel lethargic.
I find myself eating when I’m not hungry.
I’m back to that person I swore I’d never become. And now I need to remember how to change. How to make sure I’m around and healthy for my new, baby girl.
How exactly do I do that? Baby steps.
And you know what? Those two words apply to all types of lifestyle changes. Maybe you struggle with porn, maybe you battle alcoholism, or maybe it's anger. Whatever it is, start changing. Now. Today. Not tomorrow. Not next week.
Take that first step.
If you’re ready to make a change that involves your eating and exercise habits like me, there are two great resources. First, join me in taking the I Am Second running challenge. It’s four days. We can do that. It can be found in our app. That will ultimately lead to taking part in our I Am Second Run Series. I'm doing the Dallas ru , but there are plenty of options.
Second, I signed up for Calamity Gym, a way to do some workouts using my phone. I explained how it works last week in a post. It’s pretty cool. And it supports some great causes at the same time.
Let me know of your successes and your failures. That’s part of the walk. And remember, you have to get the walk down before you can run.