Change Isn’t Always Easy-Guest Post

Today I have a special treat for you.  Instead of my usual ramblings I wanted to introduce you to a friend and fellow runner.  Josh is part of MDA Team Momentum and although I have not yet met him in person and we have really only known each other a few months, I feel like we have been friends for a much longer time.  He has taken a very active role in our Team Momentum online community and has shown a passion for his marathon training as well as the Muscular Dystrophy Association.  The more I got to know this guy the more I felt he was the true definition of an inspiration.  Josh has been kind enough to share his story here.  A special thank you to Josh for his honesty and sincerity. 

Greetings Running on Healthy fans! I was asked by Coach Sarah to write a guest blog post to share some thoughts on creating a healthy lifestyle with you all. Sarah mentioned that she has been inspired by the changes I’ve made in my own life and thought maybe some of the techniques I used could be used by those of you seeking to do the same. I obviously agreed and I sincerely hope you find something in this article that you can use in your life.
The first thing that must be known is that no matter what circumstances life has dealt you, no matter what your current situation is or what your past contains; nothing can stop you from becoming the person you desire to be.
I personally had quite a bit to overcome and know firsthand how difficult it can be. I’m not saying what I had to overcome was more difficult than the challenges you face, but just so you know where I’m coming from, allow me to share just a little bit of my past. I’m not going to get too in-depth here or share everything, but I think you’ll get an idea of the life I was living prior to making the changes I have. So just to sum it up… I was raised in a single parent household by my father who had (and still does have) a very severe case of alcoholism. As a child there are a lot of ways that can affect you. I hope none of you know how terrible it can be. I myself became an alcoholic for years, avoiding death by toxicity or accident on a very consistent basis. For the past 10 years I’ve been diagnosed clinically severely depressed including diagnoses of social anxiety and agoraphobia. I married my wonderful wife 3 years ago, but prior to that I was a single father of a child with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. All of these circumstances combined with many others I have not listed led me down a very dark path. I was without optimism, enjoyment of life, or any respect for myself or my body. As a result I became brutally out of shape. At 5 feet 9 inches tall, I weighed in at 233 pounds. Needless to say I was headed in a terrible direction.

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I’m not ashamed to share details of my past because it’s made me who I am today. Today I am an entirely different person. I am a person that most people I used to associate with no longer recognize. The change has not only been physical, but also mental. I have not drank alcohol in about 3 years, lost 70 pounds, eat an extremely clean diet, exercise daily, earned the 4th highest ranking belt in combat hapkido, study dietetics in the University of Wisconsin system, obtained my certification as a personal trainer from the National Academy of Sports Medicine, and most importantly I LOVE LIFE!
Change isn’t always easy. In fact, I’d suggest that in most cases it begins as a difficult process. I can’t tell you how many times I attempted to change and live a healthy life only to slip up and end up back in my old ways. In my opinion there are 3 keys to successful change. The most important is to find your motivation. My motivation was to be a great father to my children and set a respectable example for them to live by. I also wanted to be healthy for them throughout life and do my best to live a long one so I could be there for them as long as possible. There are many suitable motivators and each person has their own unique values that drive them. The important thing is to find what it is and use it to propel you toward greatness. Next, set specific goals for yourself both long and short term. It’s always great to get short term wins to boost confidence and keep building you up as you work toward your long term goals. When I was trying to lose weight (body fat specifically), I set a long term goal to reach about 185 pounds. I figured that would put me at about 13% body fat. In order to achieve that I started off by trying to lose 15 pounds the first month and typically 5-10 pounds per month thereafter. You can even break that down to about 2 pounds per week. This strategy built up my confidence and kept me focused on short term goals which led to long term success. Eventually I dropped my weight to 160 pounds and 10% body fat. I’m still working on losing nonfunctional mass and becoming as physically fit as I possibly can. Finally, you need to understand that change takes time. No matter how many marketers try to sell you short cuts based on claims of quick success, you must be certain that the only path to true success is intelligent strategy, performed rigorously and with a heart of perseverance. You can’t go from eating fast food, not exercising and having a negative outlook on life to eating the perfect diet, running a marathon, and feeling amazing. By implementing short term goals as suggested before, you will also understand that change doesn’t happen instantly. If your diet is unhealthy, you may want to start by eating 75% healthy, 25% whatever you want, and not adjusting exercise or anything else in your life. Once you feel confident in the changes you’ve made you can progress further and incorporate more change.
Most importantly, and this applies to all aspects of life, don’t ever give up. If you have a setback, consider it a learning experience and use it to move forward. Anyone can make drastic changes in their life. I truly believe that 100%. In fact, if you’d like any help implementing a healthy lifestyle or overcoming a challenge in your life, please feel free to send me an email. I can be reached at jargall27@icloud.com I am more than happy to help in any way I can.

 

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Finally, I’d like to take a moment to thank Sarah for taking the time to work with Team Momentum. Team Momentum has been organized by the Muscular Dystrophy Association to raise money to help those with neuromuscular disease. I mentioned earlier that my son has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. I am running in my first marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, this October as part of Team Momentum in honor of my son. Coach Sarah has given an enormous amount of guidance to our team and to me personally. I consider it an honor to work with her and appreciate her as someone I can call my friend. We are fortunate that she shares her thoughts and advice with all of us in this great blog.

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Thank you to all the Running on Healthy readers. I hope you’ve found this article useful and appreciate you taking the time to read it. If you feel inclined to help support Team Momentum and the MDA with a tax deductible donation, my personal donation page can be found at: http://www2.mda.org/site/TR?px=2061136&fr_id=8474&pg=personal
Live Healthy, Feel Great, Love Life!
Take care,
Josh

5 thoughts on “Change Isn’t Always Easy-Guest Post

  1. Josh, thank you so, so much for your courage in sharing your story. You obviously have an incredible family and an incredible heart, made all the more so by the challenges you faced in the past. You, your wife, and your son are inspirations to us all! Something that I am so, so glad that you mentioned (and I think that also goes to show your humility) is that you have had to deal with some really tough moments in life, but that your challenges do not negate the challenges of others. I have a chronic illness–so often I hear people mention a problem that they are having, and then clam up–I appreciate their concern and respect for my problems, but I never want them to feel that their issues are without importance.
    Such a great example. Best of luck with your training! You are in excellent hands.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story! Unfortunately, there are so many people that can relate but not many who persevere like you did! I’m glad that you’re ing a better place and that you are comfortable sharing your experience to help others.

  3. Such an inspirational post! Thank you Josh for sharing your personal experience. I hope other readers also see this as an empowering story that will push them to also become the best that they can be no matter what the circumstances are ahead of them.

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