The following is a glimpse of over a year of my thoughts and which led me down a new path for my life. This is my story. Definitely not as interesting as some stories of triumph over heavy drug use and alcoholism. Or 100’s of pounds of weight loss. Or rising up from the ashes of poverty, depression, or turmoil. But this is my story. A very common story, but I am very proud of it.

I share my story because I want to. And maybe I can be a positive influence on someone who needs it. Maybe someone with an average story like mine who wants to change their life, but hasn’t got off the couch yet. It’s kind of a “pay it forward” thing for me. And I like to talk (or share, whatever).

October, 2011: 30 years old. 210 pounds. Pant size: Size 36.

Sitting on the couch, watching hours of television recorded on my TiVo. Tigers are in the ALCS, the Irish are going for an 8-5 record. Drinking beers, watching sports. I love food, especially “good” food. Surfing the web, I always have an online geek project. Work is slowing down already, not much happening. Sitting around a lot. Nice butt divots in the couch where I sit. Belly getting bigger. Only 30 years old, but it happens.

Yeah, could be worse. But it’s cool. I just got a gym membership. I really got it for my wife, trying to push her to lose weight, but maybe it will help me with my belly problem. It’s win/win. And I will celebrate a good work out with some craft beers instead of a cheap pilsner.

Now that I have this gym membership, I even went to the doctor for my first physical in years. Borderline high blood pressure. Ehh, I’ve had that for years. No big deal. Grandma and Grandpa bought me a blood pressure machine. I keep an eye on it. Not a problem. I don’t bat an eye when I tell the doctor how much I drink and that it is my reward for going to the gym. No big deal, I got a gym membership. Magic.

Yeah, I know I am little over weight, doc. 175 pounds is a good size for a guy with my frame? That is just crazy talk. I would be skinny as a rail. (Deep down I leave the doctor’s office embarrassed about my drinking and my weight.)

June, 2012: 31 years old. 215 pounds. Pant size: 36.

8 months later. Shit. Nothing changed except I added 5 pounds and a few extra beers a night. My sin spending is a little high. No big deal. I’ll just rearrange my budget to support that. That magical, expensive gym membership isn’t doing much sitting in my pocket, but I got it and make a handful of trips to the gym a month. I like the steam room and spas. Elliptical is getting easier. I can curl a little again. Belly still round, carrying a bowling ball as my Uncle Mike would say.

U-verse is full of shit to watch and Facebook updates every few seconds. I’ve got 700 “friends” and they all have shit to say that I have to know about. Maybe I’ll roll around on my bike a few times. That will help. I mean I was almost 225 pounds at my heaviest, but I carried it well. So 215 pounds isn’t that big of a deal…

August, 2012: 208 pounds. Pant size: squeezing into 36s, not buying 38s.

90 degrees, no rain. Too hot to go outside. Hitting the gym a little more, but drinking and sitting around a little more too. Drinking more expensive beers and eating rib eye steaks. Yeah, buddy! It’s summer time! Lost a few pounds, but my 36’s are really tight. Just tried on some pants and I need 38s! But I lost a few pounds. Shit. Wait. What just happened here.What am I doing to myself? 31 years old, waking up feeling sluggish most days and sometimes all out hung over. Sleeping on a round belly, waking up at least twice in the middle of the night. I keep saying I should slow down or quit drinking beers right up until bed time. It probably wouldn’t hurt to change my red meat and potatoes diet too. Ehh, football season is coming up. Maybe I will get it figured out after Bowl Season.

September 2012: 210 pounds, Pant size: still squeezing into 36s.

There is never a good time to take a break from drinking and eating too much. There is always a reason for a beer and a big meal. It’s Friday! It’s football season! It’s baseball season! I’m on vacation! It’s a Tuesday! But I’m bored with it. Sick of waking up groggy. I have to get this need to drink out of my head. I need to get healthy. Not just for me, but to be a good influence on my wife and my daughter.

But how am I going to push myself at the gym? I like working out, but I need more of a challenge. Maybe I will take up running? I “ran” some sprints in high school track. Distance wasn’t on my radar back then. I couldn’t run long distance because of my cigarette induced asthma and flat out bad choices. Running on a treadmill is boring, but I love the outdoors. Maybe I need to get outside more.

While at a Labor Day weekend party walking around the back yard at my wife’s Aunt and Uncle’s house, I made a decision to change my life. I had to do something to get healthy, slow down my alcohol intake, eat better, and to get healthy. The beer I was drinking didn’t taste all that good anymore.

October 2012: 199 pounds, Pant size: 36s are falling off of me already, need 34s.

So this running thing is already starting to work out for me. I logged 32 miles last month and on my way to over 50 miles this month. Feeling better already and losing weight. Running was actually pushing me to stick to my workouts at the gym. No beer week nights are the norm now. The DVR was full, but I didn’t care. There is all winter to watch that crap. I won’t probably run much in the winter (hahaha, if I only knew then what I know now).

Met up with an old friend, Stuart, who had started running over a year before me and had made dramatic strides in changing his life. He had gone from being 300 pounds and was already about 230 pounds at this point. We would run a few nights a week together. I needed people like Stuart in my life. I needed good friends. Real friends. Not just drinking buddies or my Facebook “friends.” Running with Stuart and his wife Tory, woke me up. I didn’t have to just sit around drinking to have a good time.

Went to the doctor for my yearly physical. Explained my plan of running, diet, and increased workout time. In 2 months, I was already down over 8 solid pounds from my last physical. Blood pressure was already down. Cholesterol was back to good. He congratulated and wished me luck. Not sure he had much faith in me, as I am sure he has heard the story a million times. But I was energized. In 2 months, I was able to get my blood pressure back to a reasonable level and lose weight. What could I do in a year?

So I signed up for my first 5k with Stuart and Tory. Doing the “Smoke the Turkey 5k” in Toledo on Thanksgiving Day. This will be fun. My first real race. I have goals. Something to shoot for. Outside of my career, I haven’t had any other goals in a long time. I am on a path. I’m not sure where this path will take me, but I know it is a path for the better.

February 2013: 195 pounds. Pant size: 34.

Thought I would be relaxing this winter, but I have found myself putting in about 75 miles a month. I never thought that I would be running in the snow, in 15 degrees, through the woods, and loving it! Trail running is the real deal. My first trail run a few months ago was an all out ass whoopin’. I am not sure I have ever had a leg workout quit like that. I was laid out on the couch for the rest of the day.

But now that I have more leg strength, I love the all terrain runs. Through the woods, through a prairie, on paved trails, and on stone. Up steep hills, down river beds, and back up again. Running with some interesting people. Really enjoying running and chatting with new people. Hmmmm… I don’t usually like new people. But these people are alright.

Still having a few week beers on the weekend, but finding that it is pushing me to run harder and faster when I have “cheat days.” Unfortunately I am cheating more than I should. Drinking hard on a Saturday is pushing me to run hard on the trains every Sunday. How much better could I be if I just quit drinking?

June 2013: 190 pounds. Pant size: 32.

Trained hard and completed my first in May. Really excited. It was a great run. Very strong for 11 miles and then crashed at the end. Should have killed that in 2 hours, but fell short by 8 minutes. That’s ok, I will get the next one. I have never been that exhausted. Receiving my medal after crossing the finish line was the greatest feeling. I can’t wait to do that again.

Continued my training and introduced the “Warrior Run” to my workout. A 2-3 mile run to the gym for strength training and a 1-2 mile run home. It is great. I feel great. In the best shape of my life. I have biceps! Holy crap! Ran a Warrior Dash in early June. Great event. 3 miles of obstacles and mud and hills and awesomeness. Can’t wait to do a Tough Mudder.

I trained hard for months. I deserve a break. I’ll take a 2 week break from the hard workouts, a good diet, and minimal drinking while on vacation at World and through my birthday! I earned it!

July 2013: 191 pounds. Oops.

Slipped really hard in June and early July. Vacation did me in. Turned into a complete 180 degree turn. I was bad. I felt bad. And I did it for well over a month. Time for a wake up call after killing a half bottle of a giant bottle of tequila on a Margarita Friday. Was sick for 2 days. WTF.It took almost 6 weeks, but I am back on track. On my way to a 109 mile month form June’s 65 miles. Time to train for the Scioto Mile(s) 10 Miler and the Emerald City Half Marathon. Time to cut the beers from the diet and get back to training mode. Time to Fight to Win!

August 2013: 32 years old. 185 pounds. Pant size: 32s are falling off of me.

I feel better today than I can ever remember in my life. I like the way I look. I can proudly wear a medium t-shirt without my belly popping out. My biceps are larger than my forearms. I sleep better, I am more alert, and I have a better attitude. I can run a hard mile in 80 degrees before I break a sweat. I have run 7 miles straight without taking a break (probably would have went longer, but had to pee).

I have completed a and will be running my second half marathon tomorrow. As of today, I have logged over 915 total miles (over 166 hours) of running with a longest distance of 15.2 miles. I am training to run my first marathon in October. Beyond that I have goals of a triathlon, ultra marathon, and running the Dopey Challenge (5k, 10k, half marathon, full marathon in the same weekend) at World in January of 2015.

My original goal of influencing my wife to go to the gym and lose weight worked, but just not how I expected it to. She has lost over 20 pounds now too. I am so incredibly proud of her and her efforts. She’s more beautiful and I love her more every day. I see the positive change in her and in her attitude. Tomorrow, she will run her first at the Emerald City. I can’t wait to meet her at the finish line. I am so excited for her.

A year ago, I would have never dreamed to be training for a marathon or planning to run a triathlon. I love my and myself. I haven’t been able to say that sincerely in a long time. I am looking forward to seeing how I progress in a year. I am excited to see how far I will go or what new goals I will set.

Gratitude. It’s important.

There are so many positive (and negative) influences in my and I think it is important to recognize all of those who have influenced me and/or helped me on this path. These people support me in many ways from a simple “like” on a Facebook post or to push me when I am falling down on a run.

First, I have to thank my beautiful and loving wife, Terri. Without me trying to trick you into losing weight, I wouldn’t have made this change to my life. You have supported me through this journey and I expect you to continue to do that. I am really excited that you are now participating in a similar journey. I love you very much! Thank you.

Stuart and Tory Kirk: Over the last year, you have become my best friends. You have pushed me and been there for me from the beginning, before my first 5k. You feed me on runs (because I never bring my own food), always have a chocolate milk for me, and introduced me to the ice towel! You have both pushed me to better myself. You showed me that I didn’t have to drink to have a good time. And most off, you both inspire me! You have introduced me to a variety of amazing people and other inspirations like Anne, Andrea, Amanda, Allen, Caitlin, Kerri, Joan, and many others. Thank you.

To Matt Boston and Justin Zahn: We haven’t spoken or worked out together in over 7 years. But Justin really taught me how to be diligent with my workouts and inspired me to lose weight the first time. He showed me that it was possible to transform myself physically. And Matt… funny that we were drinking together when I got my DUI. Now you are the sober one running under 8 minute miles. You inspire me. I can’t wait until I make it to Toledo and we can run together. I just hope you will slow down a bit for me. You guys often like my running statuses when most have probably chosen to hide them from their feeds. Thank you.

And to my Uncle Mike: Who has been one of my best friends since I have been about 18 years old and really through my entire life. He is the one that taught me that I have to “Fight to Win.” I live by this phrase and it changed my perspective in life. When I could have let some things in my life beat me down, I fought to win. And it worked. Never give up. I know you have goals and I hope that I can help you meet them some day.