Can I Really Do This? Lessons Learned From a Wellness Journey

Can I Really Do This?
Lessons Learned From a Wellness Journey

These past few months, it has been fun to walk around campus and talk. Many people have noticed that I have lost some weight, and quite a few have asked for the secrets to my success. It has been a lot of hard work, but it is a success that I am proud of- so I’m always happy to talk about it.

Like most people who have lost weight, my general answer is the same: diet and exercise. I joined the Weight Watchers @ Work program hosted on campus, got my diet under control in a healthy manner, and got off the sofa.

But behind that general answer are more specific nuts and bolts. My specific choices may not be the best fit for everyone. Yet I think I have also learned ingredients that can help takes steps toward healthy living success across the spectrum. Over the next month, I want to share some of my reflections and lessons learned that I hope will provide some support for you wherever you are in your own wellness journey.

Lesson #1: The Decision

I had to come to a point where I made the decision to get healthy, no turning back. This may seem too obvious (and may prompt some of you to stop reading right now). Perhaps a better description of what I’m suggesting would be to call this The Commitment.

The Vow.

The Life Changer.

The Momentum Builder.

For Real This Time.

I Mean It.

Although leading the Wellness Team at Augustana was part of my job, I didn’t get that assignment because I was a bastion of health. Poor diet, poor physical activity, poor sleep patterns, and so on.

Our culture wasn’t yelling at me about it either. Most people would have thought I needed to drop a few pounds, maybe gain a little more muscle. Perhaps I was just lucky to hide it well enough, but all the medical information actually stated that I wasn’t just overweight- I was technically obese.

Whoa. Never saw that coming.

I had tried random exercise and diet programs (including Weight Watchers) before, but had failed. Failure doesn’t even seem like quite the right word for me. “Failure” makes it sound like I tried, with a sense of pure motivation and intent. In the end, I was full of half- hearted attempts, poor planning, and quick retreats back to my ever faithful bag of Doritos. I wasn’t emotionally frustrated by any of this.

My way of life was just comfortable, a perfect fit even if it wasn’t the best choice. It was like my old hooded sweatshirt- cozy, warm, and molded to my body. Even if it had too many holes. Even if my wife hated it. Even if it was so faded and shredded it looked like it had survived a world war. I just couldn’t seem to let it go.

I blame it on the heart.

Since discussing wellness was now a job requirement, it was bound to catch up to me, right? I still remember working with Dr. Darrin Good on a wellness program on heart health, in which he opened up the cadaver lab for employees to look at a heart of a victim of heart disease.

My reasons for making a wellness related life change were staring me in the face. Looking back at me like a giant, over blown, disgusting French fry. Yikes.

Within a few weeks, I signed up for Weight Watchers and haven’t looked back.

So what’s the point of this tale of woe, sweatshirts, and Doritos? So many of us claim to make life altering decisions that we aren’t really committed to, whether they be weight loss related, New Year’s Resolutions, or a generic resolve to just “try harder” or “do better.” I think we all need something deeper, more substantial, that helps us look at life in a whole new manner. We need a source of motivation that penetrates our everyday choices and gives us strength to make hard decisions. We need a reason for success that is so pure and joyful it makes that which we are surrendering seem paltry. We need something that grips us and won’t let us go.

And I just can’t shake the image of that heart.

In truth, it wasn’t just the heart. I have a wonderful family, and I want to live a healthy life with them, to watch my kids grow up and enjoy many adventures. I still have hopes and passions for more to come in this life. I want to run out on the field when my son one day wins the World Series while playing 2nd base for the Philadelphia Phillies. And I still have that dream of playing guitar with Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.

I just think I needed a powerful visual testimony to what I was doing to my own body with my own choices. And it’s one I just can’t seem to shake.

So what motivates you?

Up Next: The Community

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