“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” -Lao Tzu
Within a week of my return, my girlfriend and I decided it was best we went on our own ways after being together for almost 6 years. The time together after I got back wasn’t great. Our ideals were beginning to reveal how different they were. I was longing for a happy life doing what I was passionate about and she was looking for a secure and content life. I remember before I left when I was trying to get her excited about trying to leave with me and going on a huge trip, she said “why don’t you wait until you retire to do those type of things.” That was exactly the life I didn’t want! What if I didn’t live until I was able to retire? And why wait til then?
I honestly didn’t really know what to do then. I didn’t have a job. Someone I spent so much time with was now not in my life. I had an entire day to fill, but with what? I was sitting in my room, in the same spot I had been before I left. The memories from the trip were unforgettable. But I thought I would find myself along the way. Instead I was right were I began with so many unanswered questions about what to do with my life.
I was brushing my teeth one night before I got into bed. I noticed my gut and man boobs were jiggling while I was brushing. I would stop, the jiggle would stop. Oh shit. I always thought of myself as looking athletic. Haha! I guess not anymore. I got on the scale the next morning. Yep, after I dropped a load. Don’t want that counting towards my weight. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, but the scale showed me that I was at my highest weight ever. I wasn’t huge or anything, but I could tell fluff was starting to build. That’s right when I thought, “I need to get in shape.”
I really wish I could say I got off my porch like Forrest Gump and took off running. Or that I effortlessly went on a 4 mile run. Nope and nope. In fact, I didn’t even run. I just went on a long walk. It was the start of summer and already hot. I went for 3 miles and when I got back I had a good bit of sweat covering my shirt. Not bad I thought.
I kept this up every day for a few weeks. Then I felt ready to start running. Halfway in my walk I ran for half a mile. I did that for a week. It wasn’t a smooth ride. It was hard to breathe and my boxers would chafe the hell out of me. But getting into shape was something I really wanted. I didn’t want to be one of those people that gave up after a few weeks because I couldn’t hack it.
The next week I ran three fourths of a mile of my walk. Each week I added a quarter of a mile. Once I got to a mile and a half, I felt ballsy and went for two miles. So from day one until about two months later, I was finally running the whole three mile route. Even though it was a long build up, those three miles weren’t easy. But it felt amazing every day to strip my sweat soaked shirt and hang it on the railing of my deck to dry in the sun.
I fell into a routine. After waking up, I’d lace up and go on my run. It was like the day didn’t officially start until I got out the front door. Once you pick up a habit, new ones quickly follow. I stopped drinking so much sweet tea and Coke. (In the south we call every soda Coke). I pretty much stuck to water. I stopped eating so many chips and instead ate an apple for lunch. The Eggo waffles weren’t gorged in the morning anymore either. Oatmeal quickly became a breakfast staple.
I didn’t focus so much energy on changing my diet. Things just happened. And it didn’t happen all at once. I think most people fail to keep up with healthy eating because they make such a dramatic change. If you do one thing first and slowly add changes, then I think it will be more lasting. If you start with one thing, just drink water. Sometimes it’s not what you eat but what you drink that you need to change.
I was job hunting like it was my full time job. But the running gave me reason to wake up in the morning. Something to look forward to. Something that made me feel accomplished and good about myself.