The most common question I get asked is, “How did you get started?”.
Now, I know they’re not asking questions regarding how I was conceived because god knows I don’t want to discuss or imagine this. No, generally this question is asked when people see photos like this:
As an aside, people look at me fitting into one leg of my jeans or shorts or in this case, jean shorts, and comment that I’m half the size. In terms of weight loss, no. I’ve now officially lost over a third of my body weight. So I’m not half the size. Or half the person. Maybe that’s my brain being factual, or maybe it is the actual facts in answer to a statement where I have missed the point. Anything is possible. But my money would be on the latter option.
Anyway, how did I get started?
For me, the answer is this: Find a reason.
It needs to be a good one. An overarching reason. A reason that will make you tie your shoe laces and go, even when it’s cold or you’re sad or too busy or too stressed. It has to be a big reason, a reason that resonates with the core of your being and your will.
Nudging obesity related health conditions was not a big enough reason.
Being in constant pain was not a big enough reason.
Slow, unfit, hugely overweight: not big enough reasons, not for me.
Hating my body, and myself for what I’d let it become? Still not there.
Because all of these reasons, which are good reasons, weren’t enough for me to act.
For me, the big enough reason happened 14 years ago. But I didn’t turn it into a reason until July of 2015. Almost two years ago. So it took twelve years to realise the reason was there. It also took a considerable mind shift.
14 years ago, my mum died very suddenly.
She had some health issues, and was overweight.
There are things I won’t ever forget from the night she died.
It’s easy and natural to be stuck in grief.
But the thing is, I knew I was heading down a path to recreate this moment for my people. I was barrelling down the road that was going to put my people through the same thing. And when I looked at them and thought about them, I couldn’t understand why I would put them through that. For some of them, it would be the second time they would have to confront these experiences.
And so that cloak of mourning and grief had to be changed.
It became the hand on my back, pushing me forwards. It became the reminder on to the too cold too tired too hard days. It became the furnace that rose up from the pit of my belly and told me I could do this. It became the momentum behind my walking and running, the power in my weight lifting, the reason to scan my gym card or to sign up for yet another fun run.
When I hit the 50kg gone point, my aunt told me that I had realised mum’s goal.
And as my health improved, as well as my fitness, I had realised my own.
I’ve dodged a bullet, not only for myself but also for my people. And it comes down to that reason.
Essentially, my reason was love.
My reason was about changing the way that most painful moment changed my life. It took 12 years to get there, fortunately that was OK. But I don’t know how much time there was going to be to find that reason. I have no idea where I would have been today if I hadn’t started.
It’s a sobering thought.
Here’s something I know, though:
If you find a reason – and it must be a big one – then you’ve started. From there, it’s about moving. Find something you’ve enjoyed in the past. Walking? Swimming? Skipping? Set those beginning goals low. Walk to the mailbox and back each day. Walk in water if you’re sore. It’s not about speed, because you’re not racing anyone. It’s not about distance, because even marathon runners start small.
It’s just about starting.
And then remembering why you started.
I won’t ever stop wanting my mum back. But I also know that the last thing she ever gave me was the power to save my life.
Which seems fitting, given she gave me that life in the first place.