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Monday, March 22, 2021

Health Journey

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Staying focused on the end goal.

Part 2 In A Series

I rummaged through the closet in my study the other day. What I really did was open a wonderland that would have made Alice’s head spin. It was a hall of fame dedicated to the several times I “reinvented” myself though the years.

First, I noticed my running medals as they clacked together.

Draped over clothes hangers, they hung like dirty clothes on a longabandoned treadmill.

There was the beaded beauty from the 2010 Rock ’n’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon, my first distance event. There was the heavy, ornate memento from the Marine Corps Marathon in 2012, my last distance event. In between was a compilation of collectibles from trail runs and road races for which I had trained for hours on end.

Running was going to be my path to perfect health at one time. I admire runners for their mental toughness and their apparent ability to eat whatever they want.

Some of those medals were hooked over a dusty garment bag. Inside was my old tuxedo – another souvenir from a selfimprovement plan from years ago.

That was more for my social health than my physical health. But it had as much of an impact on my physical health as any other endeavor.

Like a lot of adventures, this one started after a break-up. I decided I was going to do something that went against my wall-flower nature. That thing wound up being ballroom dancing.

I played a lot of Big Band music as a high school and college musician. I learned all those great swing tunes from Glenn Miller and others, but I had never learned to dance to any of them.

So, at a moment when instinct told me to crawl back into my shell, I stepped out. I learned the foxtrot, the waltz, the rhumba and more.

My teacher had a queue of ladies who wanted to learn to dance but had no partners. Before I knew it, my dance card was full. I was dancing an hour and a half a night, three or four nights a week. Until I started running, the dancing got me in the best shape of my life.

So, what comes after months of practice for all rookie dancers? Recitals. If I was going to perform at that level, I wasn’t going to do it in rented clothes. So I bought a tuxedo.

Ballroom dancing not only improved my physical health but also surpassed the goal for my social health, too. You see, I met my wife on that dance floor.

However, after accomplishing that goal, I made the mistake of not settling on a new goal for dancing. So the tuxedo went into the closet. Every once in a while, I would think it would be nice to have an occasion to wear it again. As time passed, I realized I couldn’t put that tuxedo on even if I wanted to. So there it hung, like a high school letterman’s jacket – a symbol of past glory.

My senses had dulled to the point that I was oblivious to the garment bag, like the hum of the refrigerator. Until this particular day. Something whispered in my ear, “Open it up.”

Since this latest leg of my health journey started, I have rediscovered several items in my regular closet. They were my “oneday” clothes. You know, for when I was able to fit in them again one day. Wearing those clothes again was the second-biggest confidence booster behind people saying, “I almost didn’t recognize you.” Until I unzipped that garment bag.

Those one-day clothes slipped into third place on that list as I slipped into those black pants and the matching jacket with the shiny satin lapels.

Now I just need a gala to go to. This latest leg of my health journey, ironically, is teaching me that success is a marathon, not a sprint. Some days, eating clean seems cruel, and exercising is just unusual punishment. But I have worked hard to keep my eyes on the prize. The Philadelphia 76ers are right – you have to trust the process and stay focused on the end goal.

I am looking for fresh recipes for the things that have become staples in my life – salmon, tuna and chicken. I need to find a 5K race to sign up for, giving me a fresh motivation to train harder. Anything I can do to keep moving forward.

Stay tuned for more from my journey to better health in future editions of 318 Forum magazine.

Scott “Scooter”Anderson is a freelance communications consultant and a frequent contributor to 318 Forum.

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