By: Kevin Weber
Something I’ve always known to a degree, yet never truly understood was that our bodies are our vessels. They’re the vehicle that drives our spirit around, day in, and day out. I am of the belief that it is extremely important to take care of our vehicle. As I’ve gotten older, that has become more of an all encompassing statement, to where I don’t just mean diet anymore. Personal development and maintenance is a lot like a symphony, all coming together. There are a lot of pieces that all need to be balanced and come together for one to achieve the status of being “healthy”. When I was younger, being active and having involvement in sports was a prerequisite for my existence so, it never really crossed my mind that there may be a reality where my activity level would be in a deficit.
My childhood involved various team sports, as well as racing motocross, skiing on water and snow, you name it, good chance I was doing it. I remember early on, dealing with a bone chip in my right heel. Every now and again it would flair up and give me trouble, but any time it did, I would rather play through the pain than sit out. When I was fourteen, I went on a snow skiing excursion with a bunch of my buddies. We were having a great time and being that it was about to be the last run of the day, we thought it’d be more fun to go down a closed off slope. I tightened my bindings and sent it. Sure enough, I crashed about midway down the mountain, and broke my right fibula and tibula. Six months later, after graduating to a boot, from a full leg cast, my leg was reduced the size of a toothpick. After my recovery with that, I continued on with life and sports. I was getting into bodybuilding and so, there was even more working out in my early twenties. I do have to admit that while there was a lot of weight lifting, I wasn’t the most religious about doing legs. That would put me at about twenty four, which was right around the time of my next injury. I was playing in a competitive softball league and I had hit what looked like it would be a double. As I turned first and saw where I was at in relation to the ball, it dawned on me, I needed to turn on the jets and do a slide. As I slid into second, I completely blew out my right knee and basically shattered the whole joint. There was cartilage and meniscus damage, plus, a fracture knee cap. Something that didn’t occur to me until years later was that all of my injuries and ailments have happened on my right side.
There’s an old saying that goes, “live a good and honorable life. Then, when you’re older and think back, you’ll enjoy it all a second time.” This quote has always stuck with me because it reminds me of my Grandpa K. He was a good man, he lived an honorable life with a blue collar. He had a job with the phone company, which afforded he and his wife a life in a modest, middle class neighborhood. He was an avid hunter in his younger days and then their entire backyard was a garden where he would grow all kinds of literal award winning, fresh fruits and vegetables. I remember as a kid, not fully appreciating those fruits and vegetables in the way that I probably should have. I will say however, if it weren’t for him, there is a very low chance I would’ve ever ventured into fried greed tomatoes and fried okra, which became one of my favorite ways to eat veggies as a kid. For those of us fortunate enough to grow up with grandparents, we all have memories from our childhood with them, and I was blessed to be able to learn so much from mine on both sides as a kid. Now here I sit, at about the same age my grandfather was when he was offered an early retirement from the phone company he worked for his whole career. I think back to those times, the concept of someone retiring meant that it was time to kick back, enjoy grandkids, read books, rock in a chair, watch your garden grow, and sort out next season’s seeds. A time that is for better or worse, nonexistent. The concepts of which I described, are hardly even relevant to many people in retirement today. Even for my grandparents, there was a noticeable trend. Not long after he began his days of leisure, their days of being active and doing things were replaced with days of very little movement at all. In the beginning, they maintained a healthy diet, eating only healthy, organic vegetables, coupled with freshly hunted meat. As time went on however, the ability to care for the garden and to go on hunting trips dwindled to nonexistent, simply due to the fact that they stopped moving. Both he and my grandma began to put on some weight in the form of body fat. They had become accustomed to the convenience of the growing market of fast food, to the point of being diagnosed with type II diabetes. He was the type of guy that would refuse any medication and refuse any change to his lifestyle if it meant going back to eating healthy. I remember one year, after their weight had come to an intolerable number, the two of them decided they would start going on walks to resolve the problem. I remember thinking to myself, walking, huh? To lose weight? Needless to say, I was skeptical. To me, the only way to really lose weight, was running. Now, when I say I’m wrong, I’m wrong. I remember going back to their house after just a couple of months of them being into it and the two of them looked like completely different people, Grandpa’s Santa belly was gone! They were talking with my parents and told them they had started walking the canal behind their house everyday, for forty five minutes. That was the only change they made. Neither one of them really ever committed to much exercise other than that, they didn’t ever go back to eating as healthy as they once did, but despite any of that, they were able to live into their nineties and doing so, they got to experience great grandkids and all the wonders that come with that. It is of my humble opinion that by them taking the one bit of action it made all the difference in them getting to their nineties.
After all of the rehab I did on my knee in my early twenties, ultimately wasn’t enough, my knee was, is, and has been bone on bone since. That made it extremely difficult, especially over time and as I gained weight to do any form of running or leg exercises and ultimately, I used that ailment to be an excuse. Other aspects of my life, as I got older, became excuses. Things like work, family schedules, kids sports, what ever it was. There was a hierarchy of priority to me and fitness found itself fallen from arguably the top, to almost all the bottom. Every few months or so, there’d be a surge of motivation, I’d get on a bike and go out since that’s not as bad on the knee. Or, I’d play street hockey with our boys, and to me, that was enough of a workout, and so that lifestyle continued to let me, let myself off the hook. I wasn’t sedentary, like I had seen my grandparents become, so, I didn’t think it wasn’t enough. Two to five pounds of fat gain per year wasn’t noticeable until it got all added up and then, slapped me in the belly, making me realize at the time, that I was about fifty pounds overweight. Over those years, I would notice subtle changes about myself. Things like doing the yard would put me out of commission for two days at least and it wasn’t like we lived on a ranch. By my early forties, I had been favoring my right leg so much, it had began to wreak havoc on my hip. I was getting the injections from time to time, but eventually stopped that when the cortisone stopped working. It was difficult to walk up and down stairs without holding onto the rail. It was determined that due to all the years of favoring my one side, the muscle in my right leg was essentially non existent. All my problems had compounded and as I was approaching my late forties, I knew I needed to take real action and be truly committed. Our kids had become adults and were doing their own training by the time I finally woke up to the fact that maybe I had been going about fitness all wrong, for so many years, even the ones where I was training hard. They were doing these crazy seeming exercises that I had never done or had even seen done. When I asked them what they were doing, their response was, “it’s all about movement, our bodies are designed to move, and it needs to be in motion.” While I felt like it made sense, I also felt like I was way too far gone in my own body to be doing any of what they were doing. That being said, Stacey and I both knew we needed to make a change. I remembered back to what my Grandma and Grandpa K did just from walking. I said to Stacey, “let’s start with walking”. So we did. I can happily say it brought back some strength, confidence, and movement that had been replaced by sitting at a desk.
Taking those intentionally punned steps was pivotal in the continuation of our journey. Since then, we have taken total ownership of our fitness, diet, and are continuously working on spiritual and mental health as well. The difference it has made in both of our lives is beyond noticeable and it all started with consistent walks. Those led to more consistent workout days, which then led to us teaming up with a personal trainer and dietician. We have learned that the keys to our success have been putting together a plan with a specific strategy for a specific outcome being coupled with measurable, attainable, and time sensitive goals. We couldn’t be more proud of where we’ve come, but even more importantly, we’re excited about where we ‘re going, and we look forward to sharing tips, tricks, and hacks that have helped us along the way.
Join our community to receive various tips, ideas, and resources to improving your lifestyle.