2019 has been a year of awakenings. How my health changed along my journey
As 2018 closed, we did what we do at the end of every year. We sat down as a family and wrote out our 2019 goals. For me, pretty much every year since Boone was born, one of my goals was to lose weight. It started out well, losing about 5 lbs after the holidays were over. However, I’d typically slide right back into my old habits come February. I was just never able to stick to any sort of plan.
Something was different about 2019. 2018 saw me struggle significantly with anxiety. So bad at times I’d slip into bouts of depression. I had to overcome this struggle! I knew that exercise had always helped me be in a better mood. So while we were setting our goals for 2019, Keri said she was running a half-marathon. I agreed that I would join her in this endeavor.
I’ll be honest, at first I thought this was a goal totally out of my reach. I was 6′ tall and weighed 265 lbs. I would probably die before I’d finish a 13.1 mile race. (To be fair, at the time that was probably true) I had a lot of self perceived pre-conceptions about running.
- I was a “cowboy.” Cowboys don’t run races. Thats for them skinny folks in the city.
- I was too busy to run. I had so many obligations at work, on the farm, with family to take the time to run. Running was for people who had nothing else better to do
- I’m too fat to run. To run you have to have a thin body, toothpick legs, and a little dusting of pretentiousness
- I will destroy my joints by running. I don’t want to be in a wheelchair someday
But trying to be a good husband, I went along with this plan despite my reservations. I made a commitment to wake up 4 times per week and run according to Hal Higdon’s Half-Marathon Training Plan. I’ll admit, those first few weeks of cold, dark January mornings it was hard to pry me out of bed. But by around week 4 I had established a habit. I remember one Saturday afternoon, we had about 3″ of snow on the ground and I was due to complete a 4 mile run. 2018 Jason would’ve found just about any excuse to not run on that cold snowy morning. More than likely, I would have used feeding cows as that excuse. But this time it was different. I bundled up and set off on that 4 mile trek down our snowy gravel road. Even as it was happening, I couldn’t believe I was doing this.
I believe it was that snowy January day that made me realize this 13.1 was within my reach. Although I had a lot more miles to go, I knew through consistency in training that this was a possibility. I followed that program like it was the Gospel. Every week, I would run a little bit further until eventually I finally completed the Silo District Marathon in Waco, Texas. What a feeling of accomplishment. To look back and think that I went from running 0 miles to 13.1 in a matter of 5 months is a feat I never thought I’d be able to achieve.
So let’s visit those preconceptions I talked about earlier and what I found out about them on my journey.
- I found out that there is no rule that people involved in agriculture can’t be involved in running races. This was without a doubt my most ridiculous feeling about running
- It’s true, I was busy. But as it turns out, so is everyone else. I spoke about this a few weeks ago in a previous post. We in agriculture believe we are so much busier than the rest of the world. Conversely, we are all busy. We also have the same amount of time each day. It is up to us how we spend that time. Keri and I both found out to just set in stone the time each week for running. We made it a non negotiable part of our schedule.
- It’s true, I was pretty fat. But turns out all it takes to burn a little bit of that fat off was…Running. I didn’t go through a dramatic body transformation. I lost about 20 lbs on my running journey. But I was really surprised to see folks of every size at this half marathon. The elite athletes who were there were obviously shaped liked my image described above (minus the pretentiousness). But there were people all around me while I was running who were both much smaller and much bigger. I ran almost the entire race with a RETIRED HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACH IN HIS 60s. Talk about humbling.
- Taking up running has been one of the best things I have done for my joints and muscles. My legs are stronger than they have ever been. Besides a few minor injuries, my back has never felt better. My knees never hurt me at all during all of this running.
I learned a few other things along this journey:
- First, healthy is much more about how you feel than how you look. I can tell you right now I’m healthier than I have ever been in my life. Now I’m sure not the skinniest I’ve ever been. That came when I was sleeping 3 hours a night and drinking alcohol to excess. I mean that my blood pressure is lower, my pulse rate is lower, and my breathing is better than it ever has been while I’ve been an adult. I’ve even been able to cease use of my CPAP machine.
- The body is much more capable than what we think it is. In the first part of my training, I listened to David Goggin’s book “Can’t Hurt Me” on Audible. In this book, he speaks about the rule of 40 percent. Just when you think your body is ready to quit, you have only used about 40 percent of its potential. You have to callus your mind and keep pushing through
- Running is one of the best things I can do for my mental health. Like I said earlier, I have struggled with anxiety for a few years. I’ve taken medication, seen a counselor, utilized coping tools, and other methods to try and keep this sometimes crippling condition at bay. But I’ve found out that running is the tool that best combats my anxiety. Numerous studies show that running is a great therapy for mental health disorders.
- Nutrition Matters. Being active is just a small part of a healthy lifestyle. Perhaps an even bigger part is consistently eating healthy. This is something I am still struggling with. But my mood and body are much better when I am eating healthy, real foods on a regular basis (Eggs and bacon for breakfast insead of Cinnamon Toast Crunch) To be the best versions of ourselves, we must have both the highest quality input and output for our body.
It’s worth mentioning that those of us in agriculture often are not very vigilant about our physical health. Yes, farming/ranching can be very tough, physical work. But there are times when it is just riding in a truck or a tractor. We also tend to emphasize the importance of a balanced diet less. We need to be mindful of what we eat. Those of us who provide food for the world should be among its healthiest. I believe we all should take small steps to becoming healthier. I know I’m constantly finding ways that I can still improve my health.
Thanks for checking out my blog today. I know I spent a lot of time speaking about physical health today. However, I believe our physical and mental health are interconnected. We cannot be our best mentally if we are lacking physcically and vice versa. I’d love any and all feed back on my writing. If you are enjoying my content, please subcribe. If you know anyone else who you may enjoy this content, please share my site. Thanks again for taking the time to read!!