Redeem Your Own Self…Live a Healthier Lifestyle
Today I’m going to take a break from posting about how you can redeem your ground with beautiful flowers and chickens and veggie gardens…to post on something that helped kick-start this redeem your ground journey of mine in the first place. That was to “redeem my own self”…by living a healthier lifestyle of diet and exercise. And not only did it get things moving in the right direction, it allows me to enjoy all things of life more today.
Almost five years and 35 pounds ago I was basically plodding through life. I was doing my best to provide for my family…doing all I thought I was supposed to do. But as I’ve mentioned in several other posts, I had become a bit lost. One of the areas I had gotten most lost in was my physical health. No…I wasn’t suffering from some horrible disease, nor was I morbidly obese. I also don’t think that anyone would have said by looking at me or by comparing me to the rest of the world, that I was overweight. However, I was. Not only did every chart say I was overweight…and actually approaching “obese” (yep!)…but my energy level and drive for anything positive certainly corroborated that fact. That truth, whether I talked about it or not…had haunted me for some time…except for the brief moments when I “medicated” myself with a sleeve of Oreos or a large bowl of ice cream or both at 10:30 at night.
The saddest part was I had absolutely no energy to be there for my girls at the end of the day – either to play or just hang out with them in an intentional way. Seriously, when I got home from work and they wanted to play outside, I would literally try to think of what “activities” I could “do” just sitting in the middle of the yard with them running around me. And even then, I only had about 7 minutes of energy or patience to do that! Sad…but very true.
But perhaps the worst part of it all was I wasn’t providing my girls with any sort of positive example of how you take care of yourself physically. And at the time…because of their ages, I really didn’t know if they would inherit Britt’s “skinny genes” or my “not so skinny genes”. Regardless, out of shear laziness and apathy I was effectively willing to take the risk that an unintentional, sedentary lifestyle would somehow work well for them. Fortunately, that was about to change…
The girls, Britt & her parents, and I were headed for the beach. At that point in my life I had well established myself as that dad who plopped his pasty self down in the sand…effectively disinterested and uninvolved. Sure, I’d wallow around in the water a bit and let the girls bury me in the sand so that I could get in a little nap…but that was the extent of it. To make the prospects of this trip even better (sarcasm intended), just before we got in the car I pulled something between my ribs…probably by just reaching for a suitcase (or a doughnut!).
After we arrived and painfully unloaded the car…smelling the first waft of salty air, Britt and I left the girls with her parents and went to the ER – Britt trying to make her way through unfamiliar streets at midnight…while I was hunched over in pain in the passenger seat. Two hours later, the ER doc diagnosed me with costochondritis, gave me the requisite pain killers (which effectively left me feeling and acting more like the beached whale I had become)…and sent us on our way. However, what changed everything for me was the “selfie” I took before “selfies” were a thing. Waiting to be wheeled into the x-ray room, I snapped this pic to send to a few buddies to show them how much “fun” we were having on our vacation (sarcasm intended…again).
I don’t know if it was the guilt that I felt for being such a slug for so long or the streak of vanity I felt from looking at the 3 sad, pink chins below my heed of a head (very likely the latter)…but then and there I decided to make a change. No longer was I going to feel and look like I was 90 years old – when I was less than half that age; nor was I going to continue sending the message to my girls that going through life without a healthy approach to food and exercise was an okay thing.
[I’ll speed things up from here.] As soon as we got home from the beach, I signed up for one of those brutal boot camps where you are beaten into submission for an hour at o’dark-thirty in the morning, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks…oh, and pay good money for it! Despite my sarcastic characterization of Operation Boot Camp – TMP (yes, sarcasm again), this boot camp and the trainers there changed my life. A month later I was 10 pounds lighter…I better understood how, when, what, and how much I should be eating…and I had quite a bit more energy for myself and my family. But what was most life-changing for me was the trajectory it started me on…determined to live a healthier life and do that in front of my girls.
A buddy I had done the boot camp with and another we had met in between burpees during those early morning workouts decided that we would try to do something similar on our own. So that very next Monday we started meeting 3 mornings a week in a park not far from our homes. We committed to each other that we would be there regardless of the weather – unless it was “lightening at the clock tower” (there was a clock tower where we met). We didn’t know exactly where this would lead us, but we were determined to continue what we had started…really just for ourselves and our families. For a few weeks it was just the 3 of us…running around for 45 minutes doing push-ups, jumping jacks, and bear crawls. But that too was about to change…
Fast forward about 4 and ½ years and you’ll find our “BootLeggers” group (Britt creatively came up with that name) working out at 5:30 every Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning…come rain, shine, ice or snow and regardless of temps:
- There are now 15 leaders who rotate leading our workouts…keeping things interesting and making leading sustainable.
- We have over 150 folks in our GoogleGroup and in the more temperate months we have had more than 30 people show up for us to beat them into submission. Obviously, a good number of our BootLegger cronies don’t as closely adhere to our “lightening at the clock tower” rule, but we welcome them whenever they do decide to show-up.
- Because of how we design our workouts, the fitness and age range of the group varies, while providing a great workout and motivation for everyone.
- Once or twice a year on a Saturday morning we have our “Bring Your Kid to Bootcamp Day”…when we include our kids in a quasi-BootLegger-workout – actually looking more like field day, but they get the picture. What’s so awesome is…not only do our kids really look forward to this day, but they get to spend time with their parents and see that we place a premium on exercise and a healthy lifestyle….and have fun while we do it!
- Other cul-de-sac bootleg BootLegger groups have sprung up, as well as BootLegger sub-groups who meet on our off-days to run or swim.
- We’ve made amazing friendships along the way with folks we would have otherwise never met…who all encourage ongoing challenge and accountability.
- Many of us have upped the challenge to participate in area 5Ks & 10Ks, marathons, triathlons, mudruns, endurance runs, adventure races…and just this past weekend 15 of us BootLeggers and our friends did our first Tough Mudder
Besides being a blast…the Tough Mudder got me to stop and consider how far so many of us have come…and was actually the impetus to my writing this post. Not that I think we’ll ever be nominated to be one of CNN’s Heros, but I do think we’ve made a very positive difference in our lives and the lives of our families. Which is pretty cool, if you ask me.
Besides that, as I started this post…being healthier than I was 5 years ago has allowed me the energy that I need to engage more fully in other areas on my life. That in turn has helped me redeem my family’s ground, with the hopes of helping others redeem theirs.
What area of your life do you need to “redeem”? What are you going to do about it? Don’t overthink it…just decide that you’re going to do something and start moving in that direction. I don’t know where you’ll end up, but I guarantee you that it’s going to be a better place than you are now…and that you’ll really enjoy the ride along the way.
Take care and I hope you have a great week,
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By the way…for the grammar patrol out there, I do know that “your own self” is not correct English…so simmer down.
I have been fortunate to be on this journey with you my friend. Thank you for your leadership, friendship, and caring that you have been paying it forward for years. Congrats on your new business and lifestyle!
Thanks Mr. Wilson…and backatcha my friend! Wouldn’t be…couldn’t be here without you! Here’s to many more years of BootLeggers! Take care, D.
Very inspirational, Doug!! I admire your determination. Mine seems to be short-lived for several reasons, not the least being that at the age of 72 all my parts & especially my metabolism have slowed down tremendously. As long as I was working I was forced to get up & go and in that way at least I kept active. When I finally retired fully at age 70 I didn’t have the push or drive to be consistent with a plan…any plan….for an improved lifestyle. Perhaps after I read your post a few more times, it will shame me into making some very needed positive changes not only in the area of diet, but especially in the area of exercise. Thanks for this post.
Sherrill…thanks so much for your comment! First of all let me say that YOU are an inspiration…living the healthy lifestyle you have to the age of 72! I’m sure you have motivated your friends and family to do the same. Maybe it’s semantics, but I hope you won’t be “shamed” into making some positive changes in your life in the area of exercise…but motivated and inspired to do so!!! Thanks so much Sherrill! Take care, D.