Why health is so important – or how to get your life back on track

Girl holding healthy apple
Healthy food is unappetising when you are unhealthy.

Why health is so important.

We take our health for granted until something goes wrong.  The body requires very little to give you lifelong happiness but we are all subject to advertising and environmental conditioning.

I never realised how exciting it is to have my body back.  After being overweight (obese) for the last 15 years it wasn't until I got my life back on track that I realised how much damage I was doing to my body.

Even after all that when I started to focus on regaining my health it was incredible at how resilient and quickly it repairs itself.

How am I going to tackle this?

I had started many diets and failed miserably at all of them.  I didn't have the willpower to follow through with all the plans I had been given.  They require a lot of time, effort and were no fun.

This is where my major mistake was made.  It isn't any fun following a discipline.  It does require willpower.  I would love to say it's as easy as popping a pill.  But it's not.

First, I had to make a serious decision, did I want to be healthy and was it worth the effort?

I thought about this for weeks while I munched on a bag of potato chips, yum!

My life was very comfortable, I had a couch, a TV and food in the fridge.  Why change?

I don't even know why I wanted to change this life I had got used to.  Yes, I did!  I am 62 and thinking that it wouldn't be long before I would end up in a wheelchair and not have an independent lifestyle.

That was not going to happen on my watch.  I needed to tackle this health problem head on.

Running vegetables
Food that gets your energy up!

Why I started running.

Most people start with their diet.  I decided to start with exercise.

I was not ready to change my eating plan but I could exercise more.  Even though I know exercise does not really help you lose weight but it does get the organs working more efficiently/better.

Running may seem a bit radical for most people but what I started with could not be called running.  I basically started shuffling.  Not walking but definitely running even though it was as slow as walking.

Lifting my legs up slightly higher than walking and looking to all intents as though I was running even though fast walkers would overtake me.  I was not out to prove myself,  I wanted to do something that would raise my heart beat and make me feel I had had a workout.

People might have said that I made a mistake by running 7 kilometres (4.34 miles) as a first run.  I would tend to agree but never-the-less I did it!

The most amazing thing happened after that run.  Apart from aches and pains, lol.  Afterwards, I was euphoric, I felt on top of the world.  It was a major, major achievement.

Could I do this again?

The next day there is no doubt in my mind that I would not be running today.  My body groaned and complained.  No, I was not going to run today or possibly this week.

But next week is another story.

In spite of probably overdoing it, I remember how I felt after that first run.

I have to tell you, I hate running, have done since I was a kid.

Then you might ask why did I start running?  It's free and I can do it anywhere, I don't need any equipment (apart from running shoes).

The following week.

I thought I would give it another go.  I really didn't feel like going for a run, again.  But I had decided that I was going to get fitter by hook or by crook.

Interestingly enough, all it takes is a firm decision to work on your goals.  Mine was to get fit and get back a body I had lost decades ago.

There is something that happens in the brain when you make a commitment like this.  This was no ordinary decision, this was a decision born out of necessity.  It was this or the wheelchair.

So I did the same course again.  Again, I hated it, it was gruelling and punishing, to say the least.  But did it, I did!

Again, euphoria!  Although my knees went to jelly at the end of the run.

Man tired and with a headache
Feeling like this is a killer to motivation.

Where to from here?

I have been running for over six months now.

Has it been easy?  No, it hasn't.  I have struggled daily with this and wanted to quit so many times.

The results were not forthcoming.  After four months I was still fat and it was then I decided to focus on my diet.  I figured that I would cut back on my food.  Which is hard when someone cooks a meal for you every evening.

Food intake revisited.

For breakfast, I went with fruit salad.  Lunch-time I ate whatever I wanted and I stopped eating before five pm.

Eating fruit for breakfast was hard for me.  After a few weeks of doing this, I actually enjoyed it more than the full breakfast I always had.  I didn't think that it would be possible.

Also not eating after five pm was a struggle which I failed at numerous times.  Now my body is used to it, I don't crave anything after five pm.

Like I said earlier, the body doesn't need a lot of food to function.  Now it's down to quality.  Quality food (ie organic) is expensive but you don't need so much.  You feel more nourished and content with ‘proper' food.

I stopped eating my favourite potato chips, stopped drinking sugar drinks (now I just have one as a treat every now and again).

Funny thing is, healthy food looks unappetising when you are unhealthy

These things came as a result of running.  As my body started to get more efficient it started to dictate to me what it needed.

Do I miss my old self?

You would think by reading those last paragraphs that I am depriving myself of all that life has to offer.  When I read what I have written I too think WOW!  I must be suffering.

The truth is, for the first time, in I don't know how long, my body is feeling ‘electric'.  I walk up stairs and hills with barely a puff.  My brain is alive.  I wake up in the morning refreshed and vital.

This has made such a difference to my life that to go back would be a tragedy.

I have lost 15kgs (33 pounds) now.  I am fitting into shirts that 6 months ago I couldn't do up.  I have put on trousers that I wore 20 years ago and hadn't seen the light of day since then.

This has been the best journey of my life and I still have 15kgs (33 pounds) to go.  But I am more optimistic than I have ever been.  I didn't think I would have stuck it for this long, especially as I could not see any results after 4 months.

But stick with it I did.  I can't tell you how different my body feels because it's the difference between chalk and cheese.

Can I keep this weight off?

Starting a diet
Off to a healthy week.

This is a biggie.  I think because I have taken a long time to get this far, I am looking at ways to maintain this weight loss.  Something I know I can stick with.  I know I will have to work on this.

I don't want to lose what I have gained so I know I will have to be very vigilant.

If you are having your own struggles with this please feel free to ask questions in the comments and I will do my best to help you.

At the end of the day, it's all about mindset and realising that you have the opportunity to have the body you want in spite of your history with diets.

This was how hard it was for me to start;

My Start at Running

Take care and look after yourself.

Why health is so important – or how to get your life back on track
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34 thoughts on “Why health is so important – or how to get your life back on track

  1. Great feel-good article about your journey, Michael! It’s so true how engaging in regular exercise and focusing on healthy eating can make all those little aches and pains just go away. You are essentially, saturating your body with goodness and healing it from the inside out.

    Like everyone else reading your articles, I’m looking forward to hearing more about your path to healthy living, the obstacles you encounter, how you overcome them and the successes you celebrate. Keep it up!

    1. Thank you, Andrea, the hardest part is always the beginning but once I got into the swing of it, it became easier and easier.

      I hope you do read my running articles which I have also put on Wealthy Affiliate;

      My First Run

      The Bay Run in Pictures

      They give you an idea of the obstacles I had to overcome. I have posted quite a few of my runs there.

      Many thanks,
      Michael.

  2. Wow, this is an inspiring article. You have definitely given me the inspiration to start changing my life. You know, I have gained 20kg in just 12 months.

    It is hard to be active again, I wish I could run and start losing weight, but there always excuses which I make up to comfort myself.

    I think I have to act now and get my life back on track.

    Thank You

    1. Thanks for your comment, I really appreciate it. It does take a lot of determination to get back on track, but I think you can do it.

      Best regards,
      Michael

  3. Great job Michael! really glad you took to effort to make a change. More so you have lost 15kg! Amazing work there. I also feel that health is extremely important in our lives. Without health, we simply cannot do much! But instead of just runs, I mix my work out into different variations. Different days I run, I gym, I swim, I yoga, I kickboxed. Having different variation actually makes your work out more interesting!

    1. It’s true, variation does make a difference and workouts more interesting, Leo. The only reason I stuck with one is because if I had too many choices I wouldn’t have started at all I think. I had thought of this beforehand and came to the conclusion that I would do just one thing and build from there. My next workout will be at the gym in a couple of more months and then yoga.

      Thanks for your great input.

      Regards,
      Michael.

  4. Great post and one that I can relate too. After years of neglecting my body I too decided to do something about it. I look at it as more as a lifestyle change rather than a diet as I can’t go back to the way I was. I’ve lost weight before only to gain it back because I looked at it as dieting and soon went back to my old habits. Haven’t made it to the running part yet but I try to walk as much as possible.

    How often do you run? Do you do any other exercise routines? Good job on your weight loss journey and continued success to you.

    1. Thanks, Steven. You are right it is a lifestyle and that is what I am working on.

      I run 7 kilometres (4.35 miles) 3 times a week but for the last three weeks I have run 5 times a week. I will start to work out at the gym soon plus add aerobics and yoga into the mix. But I do need to find a routine that I can maintain over a very long period of time. I had the same problem as you of gaining weight again. I didn’t have a maintenance plan after I lost the weight, this time I will.

      Cheers,
      Michael.

  5. Your article is incredibly inspiring!

    Thank you for sharing your story. I admire the fact that you have kept yourself motivated. Like all people, I am no stranger to the fact that sometimes short-term it is much more tempting to stick with what you know– bad habits and all– instead of building something new. I especially appreciate that you did not sugar coat anything in this article. Your honesty, and the fact that you have overcome the roadblocks and challenges that you have in order to keep pursuing the quality of life that you want for yourself, are the two things that make this piece so inspiring.

    Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thank you so much, Lauren. That has inspired me even more to continue with this journey and hope you are fulfilling your wishes.

      Michael.

  6. Hello here, thanks for the great read. I wonder who can doubt about importance of health. Health and time are two most important assets in our lives. Without them, we could be miserable and unhappy.
    Unfortunately, most of us recognize these truths when we catch diseases or miss some friends
    or moments which never would return back.
    Your story is a great example that with the right mindset everything is possible.
    You decided and achieved. Of course it was not easy but it was worth of suffering.
    All the best in your endeavors, Nemira.

    1. Thank you, Nemira, it does take will-power and dedication. Everyone has a choice to improve in some small measure their lives if they so choose.

      Michael.

  7. Excellent recount of your health journey! As a health coach, I find my clients like to run but think it will help them lose weight. Like you, they are surprised that the scale doesn’t budge.Healthy eating is critical to losing weight and getting to the sweet spot of feeling great and enjoying living. Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge!

    1. I once went on one of those treadmills and that told me in no short measure that even a 5 kilometre run only burned up 500 calories which can soon be replaced by one packet of chips, lol ! Thanks, Linda.

      Michael.

  8. Thanks for sharing your process and journey for weight loss. 33 lbs is a HUGE accomplishment. It’s interesting that you started with exercise instead of diet, but looks like that did the trick for you. It’s definitely true that when you go on a diet you have to find something to replace food, since it is a big source of positive emotions for most people. It looks like the euphoria you get from running did the trick, kudos!

    1. Thanks, Penelope, I couldn’t be inspired by a diet anymore, I have followed too many and although they worked they weren’t a permanent answer for me. So I am hoping that I will have a better maintenance plan this time.

      Michael.

  9. What a great success story!

    It all boils down to one day at a time.

    I can’t help but reflect back and empathize with your journey along the road of new daily temporary obstacles achieved with the goal ahead.

    Your journey reminds me also of the amount of weight I accumulated that needed to go away for my own health. It is difficult to get to that point of recognition of a chronic mistake made again and again for years.

    Now, your journey it is an inspiration to us. Certainly from the difference in our being but most importantly how our mind and body have come together.

    Your discipline is inspiring and follow through is a sign of character. Thank you so much for sharing. One more example of we can do anything if we want to do it enough.

    1. Thanks, Robert, as much as we don’t look after ourselves it amazes me how with a little attention we spring back.

      Michael.

  10. I have to tell you Michael that after reading your article, it reminded me of me in so many ways. But one thing you said about not being in a wheelchair really got to me. As I am a diabetic and now living in Florida and have my own website on lowering blood sugar, your story has given me the extra push that I needed. I finally have followed my own advice about taking A-C-T-I-O-N. My mom used to say that your health is the most important thing in your life. Your advice about sticking to it and not eating after 5 pm is priceless. You’re right, sometimes we just have to do things we don’t want to like you did with running, but the end result is worth it!

    1. The rewards are always better after the effort. So often people are looking for the quick way out which is what gets us all into trouble in the first place. 🙂 Thanks Rob.

      Michael

  11. Hey Michael, great inspiring article. I myself have battled the bulge for most of my adult life and am in the beginnings of a lifestyle change. I can definitely sympathise with the aches and pains as I know what that’s like. Luckily I have the willpower to stick with a diet change and the exercise program is where i’ll struggle. Great work on your very positive start and I wish you the best for the future improvements. Great work.

    1. Thank you Heath, it hasn’t been easy but it has been worth it. I feel I have got over the ‘hump’ and am now on the other side, so I hope to have those last kilos fall off never to be found again. 🙂

      Michael

  12. Good job Michael!! I know what you mean when you say that you are worried about gaining the weight back. I’ve seen that happen to me before. I get in a great mindset and lose a bunch of weight, and once I relax and shift my mindset, the weight comes back. I’m currently in a very positive momentum, and have lost 15 pounds with 10 more to go. The change this time is that I’m working a lot more on my mental attitude, than the physical one.

    Good job on raising your standards, and taking action.

    1. Congrats on your success, Juan, that is a major achievement, I know what it takes. Good luck with maintenance, that is going to be the hardest challenge for me too.

      Regards,
      Michael.

  13. This is an inspiring post. I agree with you that running is really hard to start with. To be honest, running is my most hated exercise. I would rather hit the gym to do some dumbbell, barbell training than running.

    After reading your post, it gives me the inspiration to start running. I am glad you are able to persevere that long. I wish you success in losing more weight.

    Regards
    Kevin Lim

    1. Thank you, Kevin, I know how you feel, but what running does it get the oxygen flowing freely in your body and that makes such a difference to your well-being.

      This is what inspired me to run; The Zen of Running

  14. This is a great article. Lack of motivation is one of the biggest obstacles for many people. Also do you think we don’t realize we have a problem until it impacts our lives?
    Would you agree that most diets really don’t work that o get healthy needs a change in lifestyle? Changing our diet using the healthy eating triangle, eating portion controlled meals and getting enough exercise to stay fit is the answer to the problem. What do you think?

    1. I think that at the end of the day we have to have the will power to eat only what the body needs (which is very little) and not because it’s there. Exercise keeps us young. 🙂

      Thanks for your insights, Margaret.

      Michael.

  15. Michael! This is so inspiring. I love how you talked about once you started to exercise, the motivation to change your diet just followed. I can totally relate to the concept that “healthy food looks unappetizing when you are unhealthy”. But once you’ve made a change to your physical fitness, you start to crave the healthier stuff! I wish you much success on your present weight loss goal.

    “My body feels electric. My brain is alive. I wake up feeling refreshed and vital.” What powerful statements. Who wouldn’t want to feel this way every day!

  16. You hit the nail right on the head, I can relate, I had the same issues with being over weight since I was 9 to the age of 23 years old. I dealt with being called names for being over weight but stopped feeling sorry for myself, started eating right, going to the gym and running any time I got a chance. Since I now have a healthier life style I feel great and more confident.

  17. Just wow! A 62 year old gentleman started running and changed his life. Nothing is more inspirational than that! You’ve really done a great job Michael with changing your life. But may I know why you said you had to change your lifestyle our it’s the wheelchair?

    In all honesty, I have to disagree on when you say exercise didn’t help to lose weight which is not true at all. In my opinion, exercise ( such as those weight lifting stuffs) will definitely help with losing weight. Anything that can make it’s sweating will burn calories which will help reduce weight.

    Just my 2 cents =)

    1. Thanks, Issac! As you age you tend to not be as active and if you are not active your muscles atrophy. If your muscles atrophy you get weaker and eventually the only way to get around is in a wheelchair. You will see older people get very frail as a result of not working out.

      You do lose a little weight with exercise but it’s diet that has the biggest impact. You will be surprised at how active you need to be just to lose 500 calaries (basically you can replace that with a bag of chips, lol !)

      Michael

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