You Can Do it and the Time Is Now
A few years ago I had a turning point in my life. Several men from my church had decided to go on a hiking trip in the Ouachita Mountains in Western Arkansas. Excited about the opportunity to spend a couple days outdoors with a great group of guys, I readily agreed to go.
Growing up, I was an active youth. I was heavily involved in sports, playing varsity baseball and basketball in high school, and while I wasn't heading to play college or professional ball, I was still fairly athletic and in shape. Also, I did a fair amount of hunting and fishing growing up, however, my experience with hiking was a bit limited. It had been about a decade since I was really involved in sports of any kind, but I didn't let my ignorance of hiking or the fact that it had been a while since I was super active deter me.
The day of the hike arrived and our group of men loaded up into several vehicles and headed out. We came to the trail head, strapped on our gear and headed off. After about fifteen minutes of hiking we came to our first major incline. About half way up the mountain I noticed my breathing was very labored and every muscle in my legs felt as though they were on fire. Not one to complain and definitely not wanting to be "that guy" in the group, I finished climbing to the top of the hill. Stopping for a breather at the top, I casually said to one of the other men, "Whew, that was quite a climb, huh?"
"Yep, only 5 more to go. This was the easy one," he responded.
I was in trouble.
Over the course of the next several hours our large group split into about three different groups, and you could probably guess that I ended up in the slowest of the them. We hiked on and on and on. The worst of the mountains was a hands and feet crawl for me to get to the summit. At the top, a few of the men took my sleeping bag and some of my water to lighten my load. I was beyond the point of embarrassment at this point, but yet still things got worse.
We hiked down the mountain and through the river valley and came to a creek crossing that was engorged by several days rain we had received previously. Each man in our group crossed the creek nimbly. My turn came, and I grabbed the same overhanging limb each guy before me grabbed, took a leap over the creek and CRACK! The limb broke and I fell into the now raging creek. I attempted to stand multiple times on weakened legs, which apparently, from the description my friend and pastor gave me, looked like an act that is most likely illegal in fifty-seven countries. Finally, I was able to haul myself out of the creek.
Sitting on the bank, soaked head to toe and attempting to catch my breath, I noticed my hand is stinging. I look down to find blood gushing from a large cut on my thumb. Thankfully, one of the men in my group was a nurse, and a prepared one at that. He whipped out his first aid kit, cleaned me up and super glued my finger back together. All was well, right?
Well, not exactly. We still had about two more hours of hiking remaining and the sun was beginning to set. I think several of the guys were beginning to think I might have to be Life Flighted out of the woods in order to get out. That was unnecessary because the next two hours went by relatively uneventful.
I'm fairly certain that as I came into camp under the cover of darkness I looked like an extra from The Walking Dead. I felt dead. I stumbled along the trail cold, wet, hungry and cramping badly. My everything ached. I said little to anyone else. All I wanted to do was get my single-man tent set up, strip down to my undies, grab a bite to eat and crawl into my sleeping bag.
I share this embarrassing tale about myself, because it was my turning point. It was my eye-opening realization that I was badly out of shape, and if I wanted to continue to do things like hiking something needed to change.
So I changed.
After a couple days of rest, I began to run. It was slow at first. I can remember I could barely run a quarter mile without stopping and having to suck air. But I kept at it and soon that quarter mile jog turned into a half mile jog and then a mile and after a couple months I was entering 5K races and finishing those without stopping to walk. Then I entered a half marathon and completed it (some walking required). That was three years ago, and I'm training for another half marathon and hopefully will run this one without walking. My soda consumption is nearly cut out and my eating choices are far healthier.
Am I perfect? Heck no. But I know I'm far better off now with the changes I made, than I would have been on the path I was on before.
The important thing to take from this is I didn't wait until a new year or a new month or the next Monday to start getting healthy. I did it NOW. NOW is the ALWAYS the best.
Want to get in shape? Do it NOW. But I'm in the middle of a taco. NOW!
Want to get a degree? Start the process NOW.
Want to have a better relationship with your kids/spouse/family? Reach out NOW.
Don't wait until Monday or the first of the month or January 1 to start heading toward a better you. A funny thing happens when you wait until tomorrow or next week to do something; it never arrives. There's always something that will pop up that keeps you from being the best you.
Keep your goals realistic and whatever it is you want to do, you can do it and the time is now.