(This is a long blog, folks, but it's personal and from the heart. Thank you for taking the time to read it and I hope that it conveys all that I am feeling right now.)
When I began my journey, my focus was on what I hoped to lose. Inches and pounds. I had no idea that my bigger reward was what I would gain.
It's been sixteen months since I really began using Spark People. And it's been eleven months since what I was reading and writing online sunk in enough that it became an integral part of my real-world activities. Sure, I knew that exercise and healthy eating were important and I tried to stick with them, but my success was hit-and-miss. But then, something clicked. I finally understood that I needed to build consistency if I truly wanted to live a healthy life.
My early goals were simple. I wanted to lose weight. I wanted to drop pounds and shed inches. I wanted the fat gone. And day after day, week after week, month after month, I worked hard to achieve those goals. I dropped 5 pounds, then 10, then got into One-derland. I kept dropping, down another 5 and another 5 and another. And now, I've stopped focusing on the number on the scale and started judging my fitness by non-scale variables, like how my clothes fit, my energy levels and my overall mood and attitude.
Yep, I lost what I wanted to lose. But my real reward was in what I gained.
Since losing the weight and becoming active, I have run a half marathon with my best friend. I have run a Super Spartan race with amazing friends. I have enjoyed a guys' weekend in San Francisco running Bay to Breakers with two Marine Corps buddies. And I have run a Ragnar Relay with a group of strangers that welcomed me and made me feel like one of the team.
I have had the most amazing moments. I have run alone under the midnight moon, with friends through crowds of screaming supporters, along vistas offering spectacular landscape views, along harbors and bays and tree-lined paths. I have clung to and jumped from obstacles and ropes and into mud bogs. And in the months to come, I will endure a Tough Mudder, two more half-marathons, and finally, the Marine Corps Marathon.
I have lost weight, sure. But I have gained experiences and moments that are the absolute definition of life well-lived. I have wept with pride and beamed with joy. I have crossed finish lines and hugged strangers and friends and family. I have staggered and stumbled and walked, sprinted and charged and crawled. I have shared moments of pride and accomplishment with loved ones by my side. I have felt more alive in the last year than I have in the forty-three years that came before.
Yes, I have lost a lot over the last 12 months. But my true victory and success comes in what I have gained. No more wasting my life, sitting around and letting others experience the challenges and reap the rewards. I have been given a chan... no, wait... I have MADE a chance for me to live a better life, and there is nothing that can stop me now.
Life. It's what I have gained.
(Originally posted on SparkPeople.com)