After Jude was born, Alaina and I decided to get healthy. A combination of terrible eating and not moving tends to make anybody not healthy. When Jude was born, we both fell into what we thought was the parent routine. You see it from time to time: New parents gain weight and neglect their health. It happens. Having a kid when you’ve never had one before can be very overwhelming. And then there’s the whole not sleeping issue that makes people wish all they could do was not move. You’ll even hear people give it excuses. “Oh you just had a kid, you’re going to be big for a while.” Or, “Yeah, you’re rocking the dad bod.”
I’v never understood why people can be so accidentally insulting.
What we learned and continue to learn is that getting healthy is a personal endeavor and for us, it meant doing more than losing weight.
My family is filled with heart disease. Not to mention diabetes, weight problems and a variety of cancers. Oh yeah and a host of bad habits. One of my grandfathers died at 62.
All while growing up I was exposed to the cycle of weight loss gimmicks and shakes. There were very odd mixed messages being relayed in our house. Health was important, eating right was important, movement was important. Kids learn by example though. So when our examples were procrastinating about going to the gym or downing two Slim Fast shakes for lunch it was hard for us kids to know exactly what we should be doing.
I can’t remember the exact moment Alaina and I both felt like we needed to make a change, but I can almost pinpoint it in pictures. If we wanted to show our son that a healthy lifestyle was important then we had to walk the walk and run the run. And that’s very literally what we started doing.
We started running.
I used to hate running. As a kid I would only run when being chased. Now, its the equivalent of getting high, to me at least.
When we started though, running itself wasn’t enough. As we continued to run we never changed our eating habits. Yes, we were losing a little bit of weight. There’s no denying that the movement of our bodies was helping us. I was working my body more in six months then I had in 21 years. Unfortunately without knowing proper nutrition and the importance of portion control, we couldn’t fully reap the benefits.
Our Health is a personal journey.
The map we were using on our journey was never properly labeled and because of this we could almost see our route parallel with the route my parents often took. Weight pills, and ads on MTV spoke to me. Tony Little looked a little less crazy. We even joined weight watchers.
What we learned from 4 years of hard work is the same lesson my oncologist taught me. We are responsible for our own health. We are responsible for the decisions we make good or bad. I’ve heard it said before and I say it to myself. I want to be the best version of myself everyday. I want to feel the best and I want to set the best example I can for my kids. Because at the end of the day, just like when I was a kid, they’re going to look at me for an example.
Health is a never ending journey. Its a personal never ending journey for everyone at every different stage of life. And because of this, there are no shortcuts. There’s no easy way to get to a place that has no end. Yes, there is help. There are cartographic scraps and Shamans to show us the way. But in the end, health is a personal decision. It’s the ability to stand up and say, fuck this stair stepper. I want to be healthy. I want to do a little bit more today than I did yesterday.
Yesterday one of my best friends started on a journey for her own health. She is by all accounts”coming through.” She has her own story to tell, just like you do.
What’s your story? What changes (however small) are you making today to make the best version of yourself?