by Tony Stubbs, CEO, Heart Foundation ACT

A pair of running shoes

I thought that when I couldn’t run anymore I would be officially old.

Running was always part of my life. As a kid and younger adult I was involved in athletics, cross country running, soccer, football and fun runs. For a long time it was how I thought of myself. I identified as being a ‘runner’, and I was proud of it.

Over the past 10 years my running became sporadic and I noticed my weight increasing. Like a lot of other men my age I’ve been focussed on my family. I’ve been raising toddlers who’ve now turned into teenagers, and just recently I started to feel like I’ve emerged from the fog of child rearing and my health has suffered for it.

The full realisation hit me when I entered a fun run and my time was a lot slower than the previous year. I had a good hard look at myself in the mirror and it was scary because I had to admit to myself that my weight had increased significantly.

I know it’s important to be active every day for good health but my real motivation to make some lifestyle changes was because I wanted to be a runner again.

So what did I do?

  • I set a date. I chose 1st February 2015.
  • I scheduled three weekly physical activities as non-negotiable in my busy work diary. My week now includes a lunchtime run with a corporate group, an RPM cycle class and an individual run.
  • I saw a dietitian and talked with her honestly about what I was eating. I’ve made a few small changes and now I eat more vegetables and with my family, we plan our meals.
  • I bought a Fitbit so I could track my progress and increase the amount of activity I do every day. I’m now averaging 13,000 steps a day – even if it means walking up and down the hallway before going to bed to reach my target.
  • I set some goals. I thrive on competition so I entered the Tough Mudder and a couple of fun runs.
  • I corralled my friends, colleagues and family to join me. Not letting someone down is a good motivator to stick to a commitment.
  • I gave it everything. I worked hard because I wanted results and because exercising really does work for stress relief. My clearest thinking happens after exercising.

What did I achieve? Since February I’ve lost nine kilograms. I’m running better than I have in years and I feel great. I’m conscious that my back, hip joint and knees don’t feel quite as strong as when I was younger but they’re fine. A marathon may be too much to commit to at this point… but never say never!

When I look back at the changes I’ve made over the past few months, they don’t seem significant. Making these small changes means that I’m lighter now and I’m running faster. I’m feeling great and that’s the best part.

Would you consider making a few small changes to your lifestyle to be healthier?