Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Fat Guy Finishes the Race - with the Right Supports

As many of you know, I committed to running the Country Music Half Marathon last weekend in Nashville. Last December I weighed almost 300 pounds and the idea of me completing a 13.1 mile run seemed unlikely (at best). But I committed to the idea for one reason – my family. You see, if left on my own, I would much prefer pizza, barbecue, and biscuits smothered in butter and NOT working out, but I knew that if I kept that good ol’southern lifestyle that I wouldn’t be around very long to enjoy my children growing up.

However, even having the Grim Reaper as a motivator, it just wasn’t always enough. Because of my weaknesses (which consists of most fried foods), I needed an external motivation. The best external motivator can be the people you love. You see, if my wife regularly made the food that I was so tempted by (everything fatty, tasty, and not good for you) and ignored my efforts to live a healthier lifestyle, it would have been impossible. When my son would yell things like, “I want to run the race with Daddy!”, it just pushed me that much harder. External motivation, combined with an internal desire to make change is the key to success.

I recently read a book that highlighted this challenge, “They popped my hood and found gravy on the dipstick”, by a gentlemen who used to live locally, Todd Starnes. Todd’s external motivation was a doctor telling him that as a young man he needed a heart valve replacement because of his weight and unhealthy lifestyle. I recently had the opportunity to meet this man at a book signing here in Cleveland. He has lost over 150 pounds and has been running regularly ever since his heart surgery. But in the book he shares his struggles with the temptations of our favorite foods. He points to his faith in God and the support of his family and freinds in overcoming these obstacles. We all need support.

Many of you have asked, so I will give you the results. I did complete the Half-Marathon, running all 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 24 minutes (six minutes better than my goal). But it was hot, it was hard, and it did hurt. But none of it compared to the sense of accomplishment I felt when I came across that finish line knowing that I had met my goal and that my family was there every step of the way to help me. Life changing goals must have supports. The best supports are the people you love. If you are considering making a life-changing commitment (quiting smoking, losing weight, stopping drinking alcohol), pull together a support system. Approach your family, your co-workers, your church, and your friends and ask them to help you accomplish your goals. This will offer accountability and support and make it more likely you will succeed in meeting your objectives.

I’ll never forget the look on my son’s face as they met me at Mile 12, only 1 mile from the finish line. The look of pride and excitement in his face brought tears to my eyes (however, he didn’t seem to enjoy the sweaty hug I gave him). That final mile was the easiest of the race for me as I was flying on the wings of support my family gave me. You can have that same feeling of accomplishing what seems like an impossible goal if you have the right supports. With those supports, nothing is impossible. For more information about how you can set and meet your personal goals, contact us at 472-9876 or email at mryerson@unitedwaybc.com.

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