Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Personal Fitness Journey Part 1

Five years ago.  Seems like a long time, yet not so long.  In 2009 I turned 24.  If you believe in astrology, the Chinese Zodiac, and other sayings about luck and destiny, then 2009 was supposed to be a great year.  It was my golden birthday year (turned 24 on the 24th), my Chinese Zodiac year (Ox), and Geminis were supposed to have great luck in relationships.  Turns out that it was not a great year but a fantastic one.  The love of my life, Lisa, and I started dating in January.  The photo on the left is from the night of our first date.

I'm going to take a step back before going forward here.  My whole life I've tried to live a healthy lifestyle but have always struggled with weight.  I never thought of myself as obese, just a little overweight.  Never unhealthy, just less healthy than I could have been.  I tried to keep myself in decent shape.  In high school I took up sports, a weight lifting class, and many other school activities.  In college I would walk to Hy-Vee to get groceries or to Amigos for fast food (both were about a mile walk round trip).  In college I also irregularly went to the gym, took up a fitness cycling class, and tried to watch my food and beverage intake (easy to overdo it when you're stressed and focused on other things).

No matter what I did though, year after year my weight kept creeping upwards.  I didn't care too much at the time.  Until the summer after my 23rd birthday.  I have bad joints to begin with but I, for the first time, felt the toll on my body from being out of shape.  I creaked more, I hurt more, and was just plain tired more.  At first I thought it was just part of getting older, but after a while I felt like my body was falling apart faster than it should have been.  In December 2008 I moved in with a friend, Sam, at an apartment complex with fitness center.

When New Year's rolled around, I weighed about 235lbs and I made a pledge to get into that gym and to get healthy.  I would work out in the morning in the gym for about 15-20 minutes.  I started slow so I didn't burn out, hurt myself, or grow tired, which was smart thinking and, for a time, it was working.  I was slowly losing weight but working out by itself only helped a little bit.  The increase in activity made me hungrier so I ate more.  In late spring of 2009 I moved out of the apartment complex and lost access to a fitness center.

However, I didn't change my eating habits.  By the time Lisa and I took a trip to Kearney that summer (see photo at left) I had reached my heaviest weight: 240lbs.  Seeing the scale and having knee pain from just sitting in a car for more than an hour, I realized something.  I needed to improve my health.  Not just for me, but for my family and my future family.  I was having fears of being in a wheelchair by the time I was 35 due to my joints, and I didn't want to let that come to pass.

I am a strong self motivator, but when it comes to being healthy I have always struggled.  This time was going to be different.  This time I had additional motivation, an additional motivator: the lovely lady in the photos with me.  This time I was going to make it.  This time I had a plan and the motivation.

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