Progress is progress
by Taylor Armstrong
At the time of this writing, it has been two years since I started on a journey that would change my life. Let’s start at the beginning. I woke up one day, went to a normal doctor’s appointment, and had the biggest wake up call of my life.
First came the weigh in. I weighed in right at 340 pounds. I wasn't concerned, as I had been a big boy for a while, and just shrugged it off. Next came the vitals. This is where it gets scary. For over a year, my blood pressure had been at stroke levels.
Today, after taking it for the third time, I was 180/125, and this is while I was taking blood pressure medication. I already had sleep apnea, so my doctor put it simply. If I didn’t change, I would die, and soon. I have four kids, with the youngest being 2 at the time. How did I get to this, why did I let myself get to this? I am a military veteran. I used to be able to do so much, and now I could barely do anything. I’m 37 years old. How is any of this possible?
I went home and had a long talk with my wife. We both needed to change, and we wanted to do it together. We had no idea where to go or what to do, so we just started by doing a little at a time. Our motto became “Progress Is Progress”. It didn’t matter if it was a little thing, or something huge we did, we were going to celebrate every new milestone, and every ounce we lost. Were there frustrating times? Yes, and there still are. With our new mindset, we continued to celebrate the small wins, like I had water all day instead of Soda, or I got fruit as a side instead of fries. The encouragement from each other was great.
Next came the exercise. When I started, I couldn’t even run half a mile. I tried. Instead, I started on a stationary bike, and did what I could. I eventually built up to being able to do 50 minutes on the bike. Once I felt comfortable there, I started subtracting time from my bike time and added that much time in running. Eventually I could run a few miles, then a few more, and then I was eventually running for the full 50 minutes. Remember, this wasn’t overnight. This was consistent, small progress.
I started to surround myself with other encouraging and inspirational people who were trying to be better. Not just in person, but on twitter, instagram, facebook. They are out there, trust me.
I know what you are thinking. I’m not a runner, weightlifter, or whatever you want to else we could throw in the blank. There are also those that say they aren’t fast enough, strong enough, or whatever else there could. Guess what, that isn’t a requirement. You could run one mile per hour and that’s plenty. Your best is your best, and that’s all you need to have. There is no magic number you need to have to qualify for these things. Everyone I know gets inspired when seeing someone out there trying. We aren’t looking at you because of your speed, size, or anything else. We are inspired by you. You are out there trying when many are not. You are taking your next step and focusing on the progress.
I was introduced to Fit Leaders by Michael Murphy and Santiago Meza. It is a great community that has some extremely fit people, some ok fit people, and some trying to get fit. The one thing that everyone has is a heart to help each and every person succeed. Everyone wants to help others be their best. There is so much encouragement and love in the entire group.
There is a funny thing about progress. We often don’t notice the small things. We look at the big actions and marvel at them, but forget all the small things that lead to it. People will ask how I did it, I had a ton of encouragement and I just tell them I took it one step at a time. I kept taking the next step, and didn’t stop where I was. There are no big things without the small things. Those small, daily actions are what builds the foundation for the goals you set for yourself.
Because of sticking to my small goals, taking that next step, and just focusing on making progress, I have lost over 140 pounds and 12 inches off my waist. My wife has also lost over 100 pounds. If you keep taking that next step, those impossible things become an everyday normal thing. Keep pushing, keep growing, and remember that progress is progress.