June 7, 2012
40 and Still Here!
It’s not often I post anything beyond a family picture or goofy link because frankly, I rarely have anything profound to say. But today as I hit the big 4-ohh, I will step onto my digital soap box to share something I learned this past year.
I thought “40 and Still Here” would be a good title because I remember as a 5th grader attending Maryknoll Grade School, the teacher asked us what we thought we’d be doing when we were 40. Everyone had an answer, my response was I didn’t think I would live that long… “Forty is old!” And from a perspective of a naïve 12 year old, 40 was old. Not even my parents and teacher were 40 yet.
Of course as the milestone approached the realization of my own mortality set in. I’ve struggled with being overweight all my life. I’ve had asthma, my first gout attack at 23, a few bouts with kidney stones, chronic high blood pressure, sleep apnea and an abnormal blood count my doc said was due to “a fatty liver.” All in all things could’ve been much worse, but by May 2010 I was tipping the scales at over 255 lbs. and trying to shake loose an 8 mm stone that had camped out in my kidney for over a year. After that much time the doc suggested to have it surgically removed, but after hearing the description of the procedure (let’s just say, it didn’t sound pretty), I was compelled to do a last ditch effort to make those changes I’ve been meaning to my whole life.
So on my 39th birthday, I set a simple easily measurable goal, to be under 200 lbs by my 40th birthday. Not an easy task since I crossed into the 200’s back in high school and had failed many times to sustain any weight loss for more than a few months. Fortunately this time around I had a couple things going for me… I was now a father motivated to be a better role model for my son and my employer Jamba Juice Hawaii started ramping up its company Wellness Program.
Not long after I started working at Jamba, I remember the company CEO saying to me that while most of the young people that work for us will move on to other things, he wanted to give them something that they could have the rest of their lives, a healthy lifestyle. I was blessed to be a part of a team that not only made healthy products but also had a culture that lived its brand in and outside of work. Jamba sponsored regular group “activisms” that included hikes, standup and canoe paddling, cooking classes, fitness workouts and many other health and wellness activities…all things I wanted to try (in spirit) but never had the time or tenacity to do on my own. There were rewards for attending those activisms, but my biggest reward was simply improving my own well-being. If you think about it, you probably spend more time around the people you work with than anyone else, so if I couldn’t find a way to make it happen for myself around these kind of influencers, it was never going to happen for me.
So after months of hikes, runs up and down the hill, fitness boot camps and gym workouts I started to see some results. The weight came off, my blood counts dropped to normal levels and blood pressure improved. I was finding I could do things I never thought I had it in me to do. And that kidney stone that had been rolling around in me over a year mysteriously vanished.
By coincidence, today on the very day I set to reach my goal weight Jamba sponsored a wellness fair, and my official final weigh in was 195 lbs! While I’m glad to have met that goal, more importantly I’m glad that today I feel much better, and that some of these positive results have filtered to my family. My wife has started exercising in the evening and lost over 20 lbs so far, and I really get a kick out of watching my four year old son lift his one pound weights and attempt to do Zen Yoga and Zumba on our Microsoft Kinnect.
We have a responsibility to be good role models to our children, to protect them and steer them away from the same traps we fell into. Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone, I had an uncle who passed away suddenly at my age, but I’ve learned this past year if you stop thinking about it and just get moving, how much better you will feel today, not just for yourself but the people you love.
Alright, I’m done grand standing on my digital soap box now, I’ll return to posting family pics and goofy links. But stick around and you can look forward to my next blog post, “80 and Still Here!”