BWW Big Man Blog: Finding Inspiration to Get Up and Get Moving
First, I will start by telling you the pertinent information about my journey towards a healthier me. I am a 32-year-old former athlete who has suffered from asthma since I was three. Six months ago, I weighed in at 289 pounds. At a little over 5'10" that would have given me a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 41.5, well into the "morbidly obese" category. Now, many of you know that the BMI isn't the most sophisticated measurement in the world. It lacks the ability to accurately differentiate between muscle and fat. While I am no Mr. Universe, I have always had a rather sturdy lower half. My legs have been of the tree trunk variety for as long as I can remember; part genetics, and part the thousands of squats I did as a baseball catcher growing up; I don't believe that I have had ankles since 1989. That being said, my weight had ballooned far beyond what even I was able to rationalize as healthy.
I knew that there were two things that I had to do to get in shape. The first was simply to get up off of the couch, and the second was to put down the chips, the cookies, the candy, and all of the other snacks that made up my daily routine. Next week I will tell you about the changing of my food habits, but this week I want to focus on my process of becoming active. I had previously gone through numerous failed gym memberships and even had a fairly successful CrossFit stint which I will talk about in a later blog. However, I knew that if I truly wanted to shed my unwanted extra weight, that I needed to find something that was challenging, but also simple enough that I could keep myself motivated. I knew that I needed to start this process on my own. While I enjoyed the camaraderie of the CrossFit classes, I was embarrassed by how out of shape I was, and knew that that was a barrier to me getting to where I wanted to be. So, I chose running, well, walking at first, but eventually running as my gateway to a healthier life.
Now, it would make sense that someone with my leg strength would be a natural for running. However, with my asthma and the gooey spare tire around my mid-section, I hadn't regularly ran in close to 15 years. However, all of the data says that running (when done properly) is as good of a weight loss exercise as you can do outside of a pool. So, I decided last March to start walking regularly, in hopes that eventually I would be able to run, like many other members of my family.
My grandfather was an avid runner and marathoner, I have aunts and uncles that are extremely dedicated marathoners, triathletes, and bicyclists. My dad's run numerous half-marathons, and my brother, who never ran a race in his life, decided that he would start his racing career with the 2005 Columbus Marathon, in our hometown in Ohio. Since then, he has run numerous marathons, halves, and triathlons, and in January, he participated in Disney's Inaugural (and aptly named) Dopey Challenge, which consisted of a 5K, a 10K, a half-marathon, and a marathon in successive days, in which he set a PR in the marathon. All of their successes, especially those of my brother, became not only an inspiration of what I aspired to be capable of, but as a reminder that, despite how far I had let myself go, that those goals were possible.
So, from March to November of 2013, I walked pretty regularly. Sometimes it was three miles and sometimes, if I was feeling feisty (or took a new route that proved longer than I anticipated), it was six. I would walk three to five days a week at a fairly good pace, and it was working, I was definitely losing weight. As the holidays approached, I felt that I was ready to take my cardio to the next level, so I vowed to up my game. The week after Thanksgiving, I began walking every day with the goal of doing a marathon (26.2 miles) each week. A far cry from what my brother was doing, but I knew that I had already begun to crawl, and now I needed to start walking before I could eventually run. I was dedicated to that plan for nearly three months, until last week I finally began to incorporate some aspects of The Galloway Running Plan. I would walk for a while, then I would run for a (shorter) while, then I would walk, then I would run, and much to my surprise, I could do it. Not only could I do it, but it felt good. My body and my lungs responded far better than I expected, and over the past nine days I have done just over 43 miles at an average of 13:28/mile.
I have been using the Nike+ app on my iPhone to keep track of my progress, and seeing the PRs knocked off almost every day is exciting; fastest mile, fastest 5K, fastest 10K, longest run, farthest run. For a long time, I didn't give myself enough credit for being able to do enough to make a difference. I didn't think my body or my lungs could handle it, and I didn't think that I was strong enough to dedicate myself to creating a new me. I thought that I had fallen so far down the rabbit hole of unhealthy living, that nothing I could do could get me back to where I always imagined myself being.
But what I've found is that I am able to do so much more than I thought I was capable of, and that is exciting. Now, every day, I am excited to go for a walk/jog/run, whatever my body is telling me I am up for. I am excited to challenge myself. I am excited to enter my food intake and exercise totals into MyFitnessPal. I am excited for what this new found passion might be able to give me for years to come, and I am excited to share this process with you.
In the comments below, tell me what inspires you to turn your life around in a healthier direction and how you've started to make that a reality. You can also interact with me on Twitter @BWWMatt. As I said, next week I will discuss how I completely changed my daily diet, and how I broke free of me biggest vice; Diet Coke. Until then, join me in getting up and getting moving.