I had a strange experience on my run yesterday morning. As I approached an intersection (it was 5 a.m. when this happened) a truck was honking at a car next it. I noticed the light was green for the car, but it wasn’t going anywhere. The guy got out of his truck and walked over to the car. By this time I was in the intersection next to the car and had stopped running. The guy in the car was passed out and not waking up even with the other guy shaking him. Finally, the guy in the car woke up and, needless to say, he was not with it. He looked young enough to be a teenager and had obviously been indulging in either alcohol or drugs. He woke up, though, and after much confusion drove off (which really should not have happened). The guy in the truck followed him, so hopefully he made it home without incident.
This event triggered some memories for me. As I continued on my run, I thought about the kid that was passed out and how awful he was going to feel physically for the rest of the day, not just because of whatever substance he pumped himself full of, but from lack of sleep, too. I remember those days. I had a lot of nights where I stayed up pumping myself full of some substance whether it be alcohol or otherwise. I remember waking up most mornings (or afternoons) feeling like a truck had hit me and being worthless for most of the day. What a waste of youth when I look back on those times.
I remember working out in the evenings at the rec center in college, and leaving there to go drink, smoke and do whatever else was available that night. I looked good on the outside (11% body fat and a killer six pack), but I was destroying my body with foreign substances, awful food and lack of sleep. I continued to drink pretty heavily through my 20′s (luckily I left the other stuff and cigarettes behind), but I basically quit exercising and continued to eat poorly. I’m fortunate that I have been blessed with a high metabolism so I, at least, did not put on a lot of weight. However, I was definitely abusing my body.
It really wasn’t until I met my partner, Nicole, at the age of 30 that I got my act together. She was a good influence because not only did she not really drink, but she was active. She ran, she played soccer, she walked her dogs every morning and she worked out with a personal trainer. I wanted to have the energy that she had to put on a pair of running shoes and go for a run. So, at 30 I hired a personal trainer and gave him 3 months to get me to the point where I could design my own workouts and become committed to an active lifestyle. I still drank some, but found I could not drink as much, especially if I had a workout scheduled with my trainer. I found that I loved weight lifting and I loved how my body looked and how I FELT. Gone were the regular hangovers and feelings of sluggishness. Exercise began to replace alcohol as my stress release. It would take a few more years for me to become dedicated to running (because I really didn’t like it) and make that part of my routine, too. Once running became a serious part of my life, I quit drinking entirely. This is coming from a girl whose nickname was “Amber-lush” in college if that’s any indication of how much I liked to drink.
Fast forward to today, 5 years later, and I am now a certified personal trainer that gets up before the sun rises four or five days a week to run, strength trains consistently, eats a vegan diet, and does not drink any alcohol. I ran 6 miles with 8 one minute intervals before work yesterday when I saw the kid passed out in his car. It still blows my mind that I have become the person that I am today when I so easily could have taken a different path in my life. If you had told me at 27 that I would be where I am today, I never would have believed you.
We all have been given bodies that crave healthy food that will nourish us and that want to be active. Yet, so many of us abuse our bodies with sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, foreign substances, fast food, and inactivity. I was guilty of that at one time in my life, too. It would have been easy to give in and eat what I wanted, drink as much as I wanted and lay around on the couch, but something grabbed hold of me and forced me to make changes in my life. I saw the writing on the wall at 30. I could either get my act together or continue to gain weight, drink and generally be unhappy. I have never regretted the decisions I made to take control of my life and I have never missed the life and bad habits that I left behind.
What is holding you back from making necessary changes in your life?