I remember the day I I realized I didn’t have the metabolism of a teenager anymore. It was early spring 2010, and I was nearing 27 years old.
It was the first truly warm day of the season and I was outside mowing the lawn. My wife was inside the house and had snapped a photo of me to share on Facebook, but I stopped her before she could share it because I wasn’t exactly happy with what was in the photo. The scrawny and lean guy that I thought would be there was replaced with a chubby dude pushing the mower.
I knew there and then that something would have to change. I took inventory of the junk I’d been eating and resolved to be more mindful of it. I’d give up soda. I’d keep driving when I passed a fast food joint. I traded cookies in our pantry for fruit.
Most importantly, I had to get more active.
I’d run here and there in the past and had taken my bike out for neighborhood rides, but I’d never been serious about it. I knew I needed to get out more, but I also knew I needed a goal. For years, I’d seen some of my more active friends in my hometown of Russellville run the Watermelon Festival 5K in August. I decided that not only would I join them, but I’d finish my first 5K in under thirty minutes.
It wasn’t easy at first. The fact that I didn’t know what I was doing made it a struggle. I didn’t know the first thing about using the right equipment, and was instead flopping around my neighborhood in skateboarding shoes and cargo shorts. The app I downloaded to my phone also made me realize how behind I was. I hadn’t hit my half hour mark yet, and I was discouraged.
Just when I flirted with the idea of giving up, I walked on a bathroom scale and noticed I’d already lost a fair bit of weight. The slightly chubby guy mowing the grass started to show hints of the lean guy I remembered from years ago. Mentally, I didn’t feel like I was making progress, but physically, I was getting to where I wanted.
That realization was a bit of a turning point. I got the right shoes, I got better running shorts, and I started running further. I ran multiple times a week throughout the summer. I made my goal and ran the Watermelon Festival 5K in under 28:00.
Not only did I get to that goal, but I found a new habit. Running through my neighborhood and making a goal of a few competitive runs a year became routine. Thanks to that routine, that chubby guy still makes brief appearances around the holiday season, but I’ve mostly been able to keep him at bay.
I’m sharing my story to convey one simple message: You aren’t alone. Being unhappy with what you see in the mirror or in a photo isn’t something you have to remain unhappy with. It can and will be only temporary if you make the choice not to let it be permanent.
If you feel like I did when I saw that photo of myself cutting the grass, you already have one big head start on me, and have a big advantage that I didn’t have at the time. I floundered in the dark for some time when I didn’t have the right shoes and was needlessly struggling. If I had access to the We Run Huntsville group six years ago, I’d not have made that mistake for a few months. If I had that community to draw knowledge and inspiration from, I’d have been able to run my first 5K even sooner alongside them.
It’s a big advantage I can’t recommend enough that you take advantage of if you’re in this boat. There are multiple We Run Huntsville groups all over Madison County, making it easy to find a group just around the corner in addition to online.
If you’re looking to make that choice and dedicate yourself to a goal like mine in 2017, take advantage of that head start. We Run Huntsville will be holding a 2017 Kickoff Event at Straight to Ale on January 25th, and we’d love to see you there. We’ll be having a panel discussion, a run and walk along Clinton Avenue, as well as a beer or two to reward ourselves. Make sure to follow the We Run Huntsville Facebook Group for more info coming soon!
If you’re looking to make a big change in 2017, there’s no better time or place to get started.