I hated looking at myself in the mirror. I remember, back in college almost two decades ago, I was athletic, due to the fact that I was part of our department Pep Squad / Cheer-dancing group, and the Chorale group. Having all these extra-curricular activities burned a lot of my calories, which gave me a physique that provided an additional ounce of confidence to walk with every day. However, all of it got covered with gunk and fat as I became part of the labor force.
As time went by, excuse, after excuse, after excuse came, and time became difficult to manage. Every single time, I found an excuse not to work out. I made up reasons not to give my body what it deserved to take care of itself. I figured, I’m working 10 to 12 hours a day, so I should be burning enough of what I eat and still be healthy. Until one day, I woke up and looked at myself in the mirror and cursed at what I saw, out of being such a lazy slob who became too selfish and just thought of laying down every day after work instead of hitting the road or spending time at the gym.
My father’s passing changed a lot of things. It prompted the family to have blood and medical tests, as my late father would have willed it, so we can address any health issues that needed looking into. That’s when the wake up call came. My blood results showed that I was too close to being a diabetic, and the thing about diabetes — once you have it, you can never un-have it. I thought to myself that I wanted to add a few more years to my life; I wanted to live longer, for my family, for my wife, my future family, and for my friends.
July 25, 2016, was when it all began. I asked my brother, Joseph, who recently also lost a lot of weight, for tips. He said, he didn’t do much, other than just made sure he had 10k steps already done even before lunch time arrived. And so, I put on my shoes, got into comfortable clothes, and went out the door. I took the first hundred steps and already I was tired. But I kept going. I told myself to walk as far away as possible, so that when it was time to walk back, I would have to go through the same distance and time before I reached home. I checked my watch, and as tired as I thought I already was, I realized I had just walked for 5 minutes. That’s how out of shape I was. Five minutes of relaxed walk was already too much for me.
One thought came into my mind as I stepped each foot one in front of the other, it was a saying that I heard from the great actor Will Smith say at one point while I was browsing for inspirational quotes of motivation at youtube, not too long ago. He said, “there are two types of people in this world: those who say ‘I can’, and those who say ‘I cannot’; both of them are right.” Every step that brought me pain, these are the words that resonated in my mind.
I decided. I chose. I told myself that I’ll be that person who said “I can”.
Surprisingly, as I ordered my legs to keep moving, I checked my watch and realized I was already walking for half an hour away from home. I smiled at this small milestone, and pat myself on the back, and told myself it was time to stop and rest. And then it hit me: I was half an hour, and almost two miles away from home. I took a deep breath, did not even take a break, and kept walking, heading home. Good thing I also had with me a recent birthday gift that my sister Joycie and brother Mark gave me to monitor my steps and heart rate.
The lakeside view. This became my daily route, as I went with my self-imposed 10k steps challenge
My walk ended and I managed to get home after 59 minutes and 46 seconds, and completed 3.2 miles, or 5.15 kilometers. I checked my watch and saw that I had already completed more than 8k steps. I wasn’t able to complete the 10k steps in one go. However, I brushed the thought off because I knew I still had a long day ahead, and the rest of the 2k steps will take care of itself.
End of Day One. When I checked the total number of steps I made, I was already around 13.4k steps. Not bad for a start. I went to bed with aching legs, massaging them when I could, just to try and relieve the soreness that surrounded my shins. The last though before I went to bad was: “I never want to see that fat guy staring back at me in the mirror ever again.” And so I committed myself to completing no less than 10k steps each day.
Day two, three, and four came and I was ready to give up. It was tiring, just to even complete 20 minutes of walk. I didn’t have anyone to walk with, as my wife was currently out of the country for work-related matters. Music became a daily partner as I progressed through each day. I documented each day by taking photos of the view I was blessed to have with each walk session. Yes, it was something vain to do, however, I wanted to eventually be able to prove to myself that all these steps would eventually mean something; that someday I’ll be able to look back and show myself that this is how pathetic I looked before.
Day five, day six, until eventually, as of yesterday, day ninety-one. It was hard to see if there were really any changes, since I saw myself in the mirror every day, until I compared the picture I took of myself from day one, and the one I took on day ninety, side by side and saw the big difference.
I checked the weighing scale, and to my shock, I dropped from 240 to 205. Almost 40 pounds lost, all because of this whole thing I started three months ago. It wasn’t easy, and though it was literally a walk in the park, the daily 1-hour commitment surely was nothing but child’s play for a man of my age. As I progressed through these months going into age 40, I realized that these past three months probably bought me around five more years in my life.
This story won’t end here. I will continue what I have started, as I have a long way to go before I reach my ideal BMI (Body Mass Index). All I did was added 10k steps to my day, and the results were quite impressive, well at least to myself.