by Chris Read
A couple of months ago, I was groggily going through my morning routine when I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror. I barely recognized the person staring back at me, and the disappointment set in almost immediately. How had I let this happen? How much longer could I go on neglecting my health?
Looking back now, the reason for my slow fade from athlete to couch potato isn’t that hard to figure out. My father passed away just as I was set to become a father myself, leading to a pretty severe battle with anxiety and depression. By the time I found my path again, I was cruising along with an assortment of bad habits that rendered me lazy and out of shape. Although I have chalked-up many failed attempts at exercising, none of those endeavours began with the same kind of fear and embarrassment that prompted this latest effort.
As I stared in the mirror that day, I could see a future in which I was unable to play with my children in any meaningful way.
I asked myself what kind of an example I was setting for my young, impressionable kids by always being too tired or sore to get off the couch and do something with them.
This was not the kind of father I want them to remember, as they grow older and have kids of their own. This was also not the kind of husband I want my wife to be stuck with, because she deserves better than that.
So I laced up my shoes and started running, slowly at first, alternating between running and walking. Much to my surprise, I started to get better at it and I began running on my lunch breaks at work. The day my six-year-old son asked if he could run with me was the day I knew I was onto something big.
I got myself a membership at GoodLife Fitness, started going to the gym two to three times a week, and continued running five kilometres with the same frequency. Honestly, though? I have wanted to quit every day since I began. To add motivation, I signed up for the 2015 Canada Army Run that’s happening here in Ottawa September 20. This has worked as a strong incentive during times I’ve wanted to crash on the couch instead of lacing up my running shoes. Since it has been argued it takes 21 days to form a habit, now that I have passed that marker I’m going to believe it for my health’s sake.
It’s never too late to start living healthier.
For those on the fence about making life changes, I can honestly tell you this has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done. There hasn’t been one moment when it has been easy, and to this point I have felt more pain than gain. The weight room is hard, the running is even harder, and cutting down on junk food is the absolute worst. I love pizza.
I realize this isn’t the best endorsement for creating a better you, but I promise you there is hope and it is this: I have never felt so much pride and confidence in myself. When I push through the pain at the gym and put down that last weight, I realize the hurt was only temporary. When I don’t think I can run another foot but leg out an extra kilometer, I beam with pride at what I have accomplished.
That’s not even the best part. My children have been expressing more of an interest in physical activity as well. Both my kids just completed their first Spartan race; they love rock-climbing and have been pushing themselves to new levels in every activity they try. I have no idea whether this has anything to do with my personal changes of late, but I am thrilled to be able to take part in these activities with them instead of watching from the sidelines.
I’m no motivational speaker and there is no guarantee I will succeed this time around, but I can honestly tell you that if you are willing to push through the initial instinct to quit, you will be rewarded in the long run. Since I am new to this and learning as I go, please feel free to reach out to me @CanadianDadBlog on Twitter if you have any questions or need encouragement. Now, go lace up those running shoes and get moving!