Category Archives: Your PQ / Fitness Stories

Readers and supporters – this page is for you! Please share your Personal Quest stories or other experiences you’ve had regarding staying fit at any age. Send stories to me via e-mail at jeff@fitnessat50.net.

Guest Post: Running, My Life Saver

Today’s guest post is from Myla Miller, one of my readers, who wanted to let us know how life-transforming running has become for her. It’s the kind of story I’m hearing and reading about more and more. Could anyone do what she did? Myla thinks so! Here’s her story.

Running is not only a great form of exercise, an excellent weight loss solution, and an activity extremely beneficial to overall health, but to me is also a life saver.

Throughout childhood I was always very active, playing sports and participating in almost every extra curricula that a young girl could, playing outside on every single one of those warm summer days. (Yes, us folks used to go outside and play when we were young – hard to believe these days, thanks to Playstation, Xbox, and Facebook).

Fast forward to my late teens through twenties, and I became less and less active for various reasons such as school, boyfriends, and a few other reasons that, to be honest, were just poor excuses.  The food I ate on a consistent basis was of poor nutrition, my quality of sleep was horrible, and the care I really gave about myself as a whole declined day after day.  During this time, I gained quite a bit of weight and became very unhappy, to put it mildly, with myself and my body.

So a once very active and happy young girl turned depressed, unhappy, and I guess you could say lazy. Lack of self confidence, and shame, were everyday problems.  To this day when I think back to those darker times, I get an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and a sense of, ‘what the hell was I doing to myself?’

At the end of my rope, I sought out help to get my out-of-control self back on the paved road.  It took months to woman up and take this step, but it was the best decision I have ever made.  After a short period of time, I began to bounce back and get those oh-so-great feelings I once had as a little kid.  My depression began to lift, my self-confidence began to grow, and I was starting to feel much, much better.

This enabled me to start putting my life back together and in that plan was exercising and healthy eating.  Healthy body and healthy mind means healthy overall being, and that is what my number one focus was.

Then I sat down and put an exercise plan together.  It was wintertime, so I would start out by simply walking and going to the gym.  My plan consisted of walking a mile on the treadmill for the first month and going to the gym for weight training 3 days a week (those leg days were killer in the beginning).

After the first month I extended my time on the treadmill to 2 miles and then 3, and after that I got the urge to pick the pace up.  After about 2 months it was starting to get nice outside and the flowers were popping up, so it was time to take my activities outside.

Being a long distance runner in my early years of high school, once I got back into the swing of things, walking just was not cutting it anymore.  The urge to step up the pace grew more and more as did the feeling that I could get much more out of my body.

And I discovered my true love, running.

I started with one mile the first week and then 2 miles a day for the next 3 weeks.  After that I stopped keeping track; I would just throw the ear buds in, hit play on the iPod, and run as far as my little heart desired. This, coupled with a great diet, allowed me to shed 25 pounds in the first 4 months of my new life, and my confidence began to soar like an eagle high in the sky.

(Jeff here) My mom once said runners never smile. I just had to prove her wrong!

(Jeff here) My mom once said runners never smile. I just had to prove her wrong!

And during those summer months I was able to get a few of my friends out of the house and turn them into runners like I was becoming.  This was actually a pretty big goal of mine, which was to not only look out for their health, but to get us all like-minded so we could motivate and be there for each other.

It worked out perfectly, to the point where we all grocery shopped together and shared some great healthy recipes with each other.  We all were feeling amazing and our bond really grew a lot that summer.  It really is true that if you surround yourself with great people, you will become great, and that summer we all found this out firsthand.

To this day we still go on our daily runs, share recipes, take turns cooking dinner for each other’s families, and grow each and every day.

I got back to my old self 100% and then some.  I was and still am the happiest I have been in my entire life and I have running to thank for that.  It not only has helped me lose weight, but it has made me feel great overall, grown many friendships, mentally repaired me, and allowed me to get back to that young girl.

Very few things can match the thrill of finishing a goal race!

Very few things can match the thrill of finishing a goal race!

I wrote this to show you how powerful exercising and a healthy lifestyle truly can be.  A diet change and running has brought me out of the depths of depression and has put me on top of the world.  I know that this same exact thing can happen for anyone who is willing and committed.  And it does not have to be running – it can be walking, weightlifting, inter-mural sports, swimming, anything that you personally can do and enjoy doing.  It will be hard to get started, but once that ball gets rolling, you will find yourself disappointed if you miss a day, or are too busy to do your daily activity.  It becomes an obsession. It is funny how it goes from dreadful to desirable!

Don’t be afraid, stop putting it off, there is no better day than today to get started with your routine.  So sit down, come up with a plan, start slow and build up, and before you know it you will be a machine.

Good luck and I’m rootin’ for ya!

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About the author:

Myla is an avid runner who enjoys all things healthy.  Her true love for running started at the age of 23 and has not slowed down since.  Myla runs a website where she reviews running shoes, and shares her favorite pairs.  As you can probably imagine, she has been through a lot of running shoes.  To check out her site go to womensrunningshoereview.com.

Leora’s Story: How I Started Running

I’m thrilled to introduce Leora Gregory, a longtime friend, as my first guest poster. A lover of the outdoors, she runs, hikes, skis, and climbs mountains, and has traveled all over the world, including a recent kayaking trip in Antarctica. Her habit of running 3 to 5 miles a day during a visit a few years ago was one of my motivations to start running. In this post, she describes how she began running, and why she’s kept at it so many years. Enjoy!

I have always wandered in the woods and fields, walking when others would ride, biking when others would drive. When I worked in New Jersey, I would go for a brisk walk with some co-workers during lunch hour. We would see runners on the same routes that we were walking, and we thought they were ambitious. I went hiking on the weekend. I remember a hike of 3 miles to some destination seemed very rigorous, especially if there was some elevation gain. I also took up inline roller skating.

And then I moved to Oregon. I worked at an industrial park just being set up, and I could skate for miles on paths with a beautiful smooth surface. But I no longer had any skating partners, and I started to hook up with some friends who were running. I would skate with them while they ran, and we would talk. They told me I should start running, and I couldn’t understand why. I would have this wonderful lunchtime skate with great conversations, and they would be working hard and sweating, and therefore have to take a shower and change clothes. Ick!

My running friends persisted and refuted all my excuses, so I finally told them I would join them for a run the next time it rained. Since we were in Oregon, we expected that to be soon, but it was actually several weeks before I first tried out this running thing. It was HORRIBLE. I couldn’t go very far before I had to walk. I was panting. It was not “fun” in the slightest. My friends ran backwards and said they’d never noticed how pretty the area was. But they encouraged me. They told me that rather than stopping and walking, to just run slower. We went about 2 miles, and they encouraged me the entire way, and when we got back to the building, they turned around and went for a run, so that they could get some exercise!

This gave me pause. Here were my friends, just everyday guys, who ran 4 to 5 miles every day, and this little 2-miler that seemed so very, very difficult for me was nothing for them. I bought a pair of Asics running shoes with gel in them. They were lightweight and comfortable. I tried the run again and I was a little better, and my feet were a lot better!

We started to add other runners. Everyone had tips. I met someone who told me she’d been running for 13 years, and I thought, “I want to be someone who can say that.” Another friend told me that many people start running in their 30’s or later, that it was very common. I was 34 at the time. And I’ve now been running for over 18 years!

My running partners are great friends – I’ve learned a lot about them, and they about me. We’ve shared lots of experiences, lots of advice, lots of ups and downs. It’s been great to have running friends at work, because it just becomes what we do. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, or we don’t quite feel like going – we depend on going out together, having a good conversation – and so we go.

And running made everything else in my life easier. The workday was easier, hiking was easier, and I seemed to get sick less often; in fact, when I started to feel sick, I would put on a whole bunch of clothes, go for a run and get good and hot, and that sick feeling would completely disappear!

And then I started to climb. But that’s another story. . .