I’m Not New, I’m Improved


We’re just about ten weeks into 2015. We’re well past the celebrations with families and ringing in the New Year. We’re ten weeks away from the time when people start pledging to make changes. The biggest and most often repeated resolution of the new year is one to get into better shape. Gym memberships soar and people are hopeful 575025_741736587329_941452690_nthat this year will be there’s.

Many start, very few finish.

My fitness journey actually began on January 8th, 2014. I didn’t start the year with the ambition of losing weight or getting into shape. That wasn’t something I did.

What happened to me was what I’m sure Oprah would call an “ah-ha” moment in my life. I woke up the morning of the 8th and I was not happy. I took a long hard look and who I was. Quite seriously. I stood in the tiny bathroom of my apartment looking at myself in the mirror. I didn’t like what I saw. (The picture with Stitch is me at my heaviest in 2012- topping off around 240lbs. Dark colors were my friend!)

I have been overweight for well over a decade. In 6th grade I ballooned out and, despite getting involved in sports here and there, I remained overweight. The biggest problem is that I didn’t do anything to curb this issue. I just remained unhappy but unwilling to do anything about it.

I wasn’t about to let that happen anymore. I went into my living room and dusted off my X-Box Kinect. I had purchased the device a couple years earlier in one of my abandoned attempts to get into better shape. Along with the device, I purchased a “game” called Your Shape Center. A truly wonderful and revolutionary (in my opinion) piece of technology. It was something worked if you let it.

I fired it up and set some of my goals. One of the wonderful aspects was that the system learned what you wanted to accomplish and designed a program that allowed you to reach your goals. It highlights programs that you should be doing but doesn’t limit you to them.

I started off with some warm up exercises and then decided to try a 15 minute cardio program.

It damn near killed me.

At one point I had to sit down. I was sweaty, out of breath and feeling dizzy. I sat on the couch and started crying.

I had to stop the work out and, after resting a bit, did some cool-down stretches and called it a day.

That first day I made it 30 minutes.

That’s all that was needed to light a fire.

The next day, I got up and tried all over again. This time I pushed myself to finish the workout and I did.

Over time grew stronger and looked forward to the next challenge.

Along with my new fitness regime, I began making changes to my diet. I had given up drinking soda early in 2013 so that wasn’t an issue. As I don’t drink coffee (have never been able to stand the taste no matter what anyone says) I didn’t have a regular source of caffeine. This is where Chai Lattes came into play. They were a regular part of my day as one of the most detrimental.

At 310 calories per service as well as 52 grams of sugar (out of the 67 I was allowed for each day) my daily chai habit had to go. It took some doing but I slowly transitioned to green teas. Best thing ever also a huge money saver!

Here’s something fun I’ve learned during all of this. As you start to change your bad habits when it comes to nutrition, you’ll find you’re saving money as well! By eliminating my Chai Latte habit ($4.23-$5.23 per venti depending on where I’m buying it) and reducing the amount of alcohol I was drinking and making meals at home- I was saving a ton!

Things were going well for me and the results were there but I needed something more. At 28 years old I knew myself pretty well. I knew that I would start strong and eventually fizzle out, a problem most people have when getting started on a weight loss regimen. Granted after a month, I had done better than in the past but I didn’t trust myself. I needed something to keep me going.

The answered came from, of all place, Walt Disney World.

It is no secret that I am a huge Disney buff..

I really can’t say for sure how the idea came to be but it did. I decided that I would register for a RunDisney race, specifically the Tower of Terror 10-Miler. This combined my desire to improve myself with my love of Disney so it seemed like a logical idea. I also did it because I knew that if I was going to spend that much money (RunDisney races are the best but also expensive) I was going to finish the race.

After finishing the Tower of Terror 10-Miler in October 2014!
After finishing the Tower of Terror 10-Miler in October 2014!

That meant training. With registration in mid-February it meant that I had about 8 months to get my act together. Believe it or not, this is more than enough time to get prepared for a ten-mile race.

My commitment to the cause didn’t end there. Some short time later, registration was coming up for the RunDisney Wine & Dine Half Marathon. My thought process? It’s all or nothing.

I went for it.

I now had myself registered for two lengthy races. I was terrified.

Being as I was living in Boston at the time, running outside was not really an option. I wasn’t in good enough shape to risk injury. I signed up for my local Planet Fitness and added a new element to my progress. Running.

To this day, I hate running. I’ve hated it since we were required to run the mile every quarter in middle school. With nine races under my belt as of writing this (three half-marathons and five 5Ks and an 8k) I can tell you I still hate it, but it’s what keeps me motivated. It keeps me working towards those goals. I’m going to keep signing up for races and pushing myself to achieve things I never thought possible.

In 2014 I lost around 40 pounds. The road to get there was not fun nor was it easy, but I did it. I will be the first to admit that I am far from perfect. There was a period of time from May to about mid-August that I lost my way. I had just moved from Boston to Orlando and the stress of the move along with knowing nobody caused me to lose focus. During this time I put on about 10 pounds and my work-outs were non-existent.

With the 10-miler getting closer and closer I had to get my act together. I pushed myself to get back to where I had been but because so much time had passed, I was back at square one.

I am happy to say that, while I wasn’t back to 100%, I got myself there and re-lost those pounds. I finished my 10-miler in under two hours (I anticipated 2.5 hours) and my half-marathon in less than 3 (anticipated about 3.5).

I was on my way.

For 2015 I have challenged myself to go even further. I’m not working towards a “new me” as so many people do. I

A side by side. The picture on the left is my in January 2014 when I started my journey. The right is December of 2014 after months of hard work and TWO races!
A side by side. The picture on the left is my in January 2014 when I started my journey. The right is December of 2014 after months of hard work and TWO races!

think this is a stupid term. You are you. That’s the only you there is to be. You don’t need to work on a “new me”, you need to work on an “improved me”.

And that’s what I’m doing. I’m working harder towards an improved me. That’s the point of all of this! I started this year with the mentality of improvement not just physically but mentally and emotionally. I’ve found through the first leg of my journey that as I improved my physical self, my mental and emotional followed suit.

As I was losing weight I started taking more pride in my appearance. Spending a little bit more attention to how I was dressing and even bothering to spend a little bit more on clothes that made me feel good. As compliments started rolling in from family and co-workers my confidence in myself soared to new heights. I found myself with more energy and better moods daily.

Again, I want to go further.

I want to improve.

That’s exactly what I’m going to do.

5 comments on “I’m Not New, I’m Improved”

  1. This is great. I love the part about “an improved me vs new me.” It takes away the pressure of having to make these big drastic changes. Instead, it shows you can always be making small changes. If you succeed in making just one small change each week – you’re successful 🙂

    Proud of you buddy.


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