This past Friday, I turned 52 years old. Four years ago, I weighed over 320 lbs and had just embarked on a journey that would lead me to losing over 150 lbs and being able to join the Army National Guard after leaving active duty in the Marine Corps 20 years prior. I never imagined four years ago that I’d be as successful as I was (though I had hoped!), and I never thought for a moment, even after deciding to lose the weight, that I’d be exercising daily. Never in my wildest dreams, even a month ago, did I think I’d be working toward a goal of passing an assessment for the SFAB.

Yet, here I am. An old guy working his butt off to make it into the Security Force Advisory Brigade, to be able to prove to the officers and to his peers, that he’s worthy of being there, not only in mind, but in body.

My weight held well after a weekend of celebrations: the weight I did gain is the water retention from alcohol and sugar consumption that will go away by Tuesday or Wednesday, the latest. Tonight after work, I will be installing the pull up bar that arrived late last week so that I can begin my 3x day routine that will hopefully get me close to 10 pull ups by the first weekend in August. I’ve seen some solid gains in my run times, while my push ups are already where they need to be (so I’ll continue to work at them to get well beyond what’s required of me). Sit ups? I haven’t yet begun the work on those. That is my weak area, and I worry about working hard at them due to the back pain I always sustain whenever I try to do them. I have decided to work on my core through leg lifts and other exercises involving planks, but at some point, I need to start doing sit ups; sooner, rather than later. They may begin tonight.

As for yesterday’s run, it was good enough to get me 70 points on the APFT had I taken it yesterday. I could have pushed it harder, but since it was just a conditioning run, I’m happy with the results. I feel my shins this morning, and they’re a little sore, but that’s okay. It’s a day off from running today, and they should be ready for a comfortable run tomorrow.

Do I feel older? Oddly, no. I still feel better today than I did at 32. Honestly. A lot of it has to do with the flexibility that comes with being thinner, but a lot of it also comes from the exercise I’ve been doing. I’m not fitness expert, and I’m not a gym rat. While I’m starting a 6x a week regimen today (well, technically, it started yesterday), thus far in my health journey, I’ve been a 3x a week exercise person (and that’s being generous for the past year). Even with very moderate exercise and a good diet, I feel younger than I have in 20 years, and that’s no exaggeration or hyperbole. It’s the truth.

When I was 48, I thought that my health was in decline and that life was only going to get harder and harder physically due to failing health. I felt tired and sluggish, and I thought things were only going to get worse. What I didn’t realize at the time that what I was feeling wasn’t age, but a lack of exercise and a horrible diet. Once I reversed those two things, it reversed my feeling tired, weak, and sore. Life improved dramatically in ways I never imaged could be impacted by a diet and some exercise. My life has transformed completely into the best version of me that’s ever been.

At 52, life is still exciting for me. I feel up to the challenge, and up to the tasks ahead of me. It’s not outstanding genetics or luck that got me here. It was discipline, perseverance, and motivation. It was a desire to improve my health, and my life. It was a rejection of surrendering to a life sentence through over-eating and a sedentary lifestyle. If you’re on the fence about eating better or getting some exercise, I implore you to give it a shot. No, it’s not easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. But the results you will get within the first month will be amazing, and will change your life like it did mine. Just give it an honest shot and put all your effort into it. You have to want good health like you want air when you’ve been under water for 30 seconds. You have to want it so badly that nothing can get between you and your goal. You can do this. If I can, anyone can.

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