I like this photo. I took it in Idaho during a recent trip.
The way I feel about this image represents a milestone in my life. At the beginning of the year, my goal was to an Olympic distance triathlon, specifically the Octoberfest Tri in Fulshire, TX. I set this goal because I was deeply shaken by a photo that I took during the Christmas holiday. I could no longer deny that I was significantly overweight, I also didn’t feel good emotionally or physically.
Traveling a darkening trail
When I looked at the photo, I got a glimpse of a future that scared me. In that future, I continued a legacy of poor nutrition, physical neglect and the premature onset of chronic, disabling diseases. Like many people, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and arthritis are easily found in the family. Of course, I know that proper nutrition, daily movement, and good mental health habits go a long way towards delaying and even preventing the onset of those diseases.
So why did I allow myself to get to that state of health?
In short, I simply thought there was more time. Also, I didn’t adequately realize how far down the poor health road I had traveled. Clearly, I just wasn’t paying attention. Being reactive to the stressors of life consumed most of my energy. Even though my body was constantly giving me signals of trouble ahead, I chose to ignore it.
Fortunately, the photo below was the slap in the face & punch in the gut that I needed.
It took me about a week to emotionally recover from the feeling of being defeated. Only then I was able to take the time to uncover why the picture made me feel so bad about myself. Once I did that, I decided to change directions. Immediately.
Setting a new path
So I envisioned a new reality. One where I was 60 years old and still able to keep up with that handsome young man sitting next to me. A future where my joints didn’t ache in the morning and I had energy that lasted all day long. I was healthy all the way around.
I began my transformation by changing how and what I ate. Then I started walking 5-6 days a week. I knew that I needed to create new habits AND release the old ones (both physical and mental habits). I took the long view, there would be no quick weight loss programs or 30-day exercise “hacking” this time. My measurable goal was to lose 40lbs by the end of 2019. I would do that through increasing physical exercise and learning to eat healthily. Whatever I did, I needed it to be sustainable.
The trick was finding motivation. I needed to find something that would keep me motivated for months and months. I enjoy triathlons, but I’d only raced sprint-distances. So, I decided that an olympic-distance would be an adequate challenge. To complete that without feeling like I was half-dead, I would have to condition my mind and my body properly.
I went all-in and hired a trainer and I subscribed to an 8-week nutrition education program. I was going to learn to train and eat simultaneously.
This journey began in late January and I have made good progress toward my goals. Now, I enjoy writing about the highs and lows, the lessons and achievements along the way. The Olympic length triathlon is 1 month away and I’m looking forward to completing it. Of course, my goal has changed, I’m now training for the 2020 Texas Ironman.
The cover photo represents how happy I am today.
So far I’ve…
- Lost about 30 lbs.
- Developed a good sleep habit (I go to bed when I’m tired now).
- Identified several eating habits that were detrimental to my health
- Discovered the intimate connection between mental, physical and emotional health. The connection can serve as a negative feedback loop (which I was living) or a very positive, reinforcing one (which I am living now).
- Inadvertently inspired people around me to improve their health.
- Set an example of consistency and self-care for my son.
- Found a local community of triathletes that offer incredible camaraderie and support to one another.
- Spent waaaaayyyy more money than I anticipated. Gear, races, and supplements are not cheap.
- I’ve gotten incredible support and encouragement from my wife and son. They’ve morphed into assistant trainers.
- I’ve learned about performance physiology and the importance of nutrition.
- That you can’t out-train the kitchen.
- Become dependent on the positive feelings that I get after a good training session. Those feelings of accomplishment and progress just can’t be beaten.
I love the progress that I’m making and am eager excited to continue this journey of goal chasing and growth.