The reality of my wellness journey started on a mid-fall morning. I had been hunting an area along the Missouri River, and I watched a deer that would be the envy of any hunter, scale a steep slope and disappear over the ridge. As I reached the top in a weak attempt to follow, it became apparent. My physical fitness limitations had hindered my ability to make the most of this situation. If I were in better condition, there is a chance that I could have watched him disappear over the distance and made a plan to continue my chase. That became a large thread in my motivation to seek better health. At the beginning of my journey, I carried an extra 45 pounds of weight. I would struggle to jog any distance greater than 1/8 to ¼ mile. What surprises me most, at the time, I considered myself in “okay or fair” shape. After all, compared to the obesity epidemic in our country, I was growing at a slower rate than others.
Sometimes it only takes a wake-up call to provide that spark of motivation for a change. In general, we are properly taught to focus on others; we should be more caring and empathetic. For the majority of our life, I agree with this philosophy. However when it comes to motivation for a change in health, I can’t disagree more with this approach. I feel we should all capture a combination of things that we can use as motivators for change. While my story of watching a large 6×6 whitetail deer fleet up a steep slope seems ridiculous to some, it was enough for me. Do you have to share your motivation with others? I think that depends on you. This is the first time that I’ve spelled out that “Ah-ha” moment when I began my journey.
Over the next 18-months, I made several changes. I began exercising regularly. I removed SOME (but not all) sources of fatty foods. For me, I’ve replaced most (by most I mean 99%) fast foods with more healthy choices that include fresh sandwich shops and similar “better” choices. These changes resulted in one of the most historically successful diet programs known – I ate less (calories) and did more (exercise).
Throughout this process, I focused on one small step at a time. I distinctly recall the first session on a treadmill. I would literally have to look at the small dots measuring my distance and will myself to make it 0.125, 0.2, or even a crazy 0.25 miles, before stopping to catch my breath in a near collapsed state. For those of you who are not too familiar with distance measure, a quarter-mile is one loop of a standard outdoor track, or the length of about 4 football fields. The key to me through this process was this, I saw what I could do, and I set small and incremental goals to keep striving for. What started as small increments of jogging turned longer and longer as my body became more capable. Where I once struggled to complete 1/8th of a mile, I now frequently run 3-5 miles most days of the week. In addition to my routine running, my enjoyment of this activity has led me to more trail running and participation in several of the “extreme mud obstacle” races that are becoming quite popular. No matter your choice in exercise, if you do as you can, and continue to push yourself for slow and steady improvement, you will find results.
Over the last 18-months, what had started as a means to lose weight has become something that I truly enjoy doing for myself. When I first stepped on the treadmill, I never imagined that, however each day each step has brought me to where I am. As I look back over my journey, I am thankful for the combination of that steep hill and quick deer to show me exactly what I was missing out on. I encourage you to see what you’re missing, and take the steps to not miss it any longer.