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How I Learned What ‘Healthy’ Really Means

I’m sorry everyone. By now you’ve woken up and noticed the fridge has been raided. The leftovers you were expecting to package into lunches this week are gone. The desserts your aunt wrapped and sent home with you from her cookout are also gone. Godzilla leaves buildings toppled in his wake, and I leave your family’s pantry in shambles after holidays.

Hey, my name’s Ken, and I’m on the Support Team here at Runkeeper.  And yeah, I may have not destroyed your particular leftover situation, but you probably know somebody like me who did. That person who eats everything… EVERYTHING.  However, the difference between me and that person in your life, is that my friends and family don’t expect me to be that person anymore. They don’t understand how someone who won his battle with obesity can still revert back to such poor eating habits.Screen Shot 2016-07-08 at 9.41.46 AM

Although I’ve lost nearly 170 pounds over the past three years, I haven’t actually won anything. The war being waged with my weight is something that can only be managed, not conquered.

A lot of people have asked me for advice on losing weight over the years.  And I started blogging about my experiences a while back.  But I’m not a nutritionist or a personal trainer, just a former fat guy with a lot of size 44+ pants in his closet.  I don’t have the perfect formula for weight loss or getting in shape.  I hope, however, that I can provide some insight from my journey, and share the struggles I still encounter everyday as well as the progress I achieve.  And I’ll be posting to Runkeeper’s blog to support our amazing community of users, whose dedication to running for both fitness and fun has been nothing short of inspirational.

To start things off, here’s the best advice I have: If you’re losing weight to become happy, you’ll never become happy.

I found that out first hand. I’ve spent the better part of this past year lifting and building as much muscle as possible in hopes of tightening my saggy skin left behind from weight loss.  I started an aggressive new training plan that revolved around a perfect diet and a strict lifting schedule.  Every gram of protein was weighed, every carb counted and every ounce of fat monitored.  My goal was to get in such shape that everyone would find me aesthetically pleasing.  That my loose skin wouldn’t be a factor in their opinions of me. Rather than making me more confident with my body, this past year has left me ridden with anxiety, and even more consumed with how I look.  People’s perceptions of me monopolized my thoughts, and I became absolutely obsessed with vanity.  The crazy thing is most people don’t even realize my loose skin exists, let alone is an issue.

I may have learned how to lose weight, but still have a long way to go in educating myself on what it means to live healthy.  Because looking good doesn’t always make you feel good. Feeling good makes you look good. The first step to discovering what being healthy should mean to you, is asking yourself, “What makes me feel good?”

For me, that’s beers, friends and long runs to nowhere.

And that’s why I’ve started running again.

There are few things that put life into perspective more than a run that goes longer than expected. Those runs where you think of everything you can possibly think of, and then your mind suddenly goes blank. The aches and pains afflicting your body quiet down, and you settle into the most relaxed, comfortable state of existence.  That probably sounds pretty heavy, but if you’ve experienced that feeling, you know what I’m talking about. It’s a high that can’t be replicated by flexing in front of a mirror.

At the end of the day, I don’t care how shredded you can get, or how tiny of a dress size you can squeeze into – your reflection in the mirror will never truly convey how healthy you are.  The more concerned you are about your body, the more people become aware of those perceived flaws.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve never been more pleased with a version of myself than I currently am, but that doesn’t mean I’ve gotten past the beta testing phase yet.  As of right now, Vanity is just currently the hardest bug to triage.

Being healthy requires a new way of tracking progress.

And no, I’m not talking about miles logged, or pounds or inches lost. The more memories, moments and instances of joy that are brought into my life are what will be constituted as progress.  And as one of my best friend’s always puts it; Your goal in life should always be the relentless pursuit of progress.

Ken Vetrano

About the author:
Ken Vetrano

I’m not a nutritionist or a personal trainer, just a former fat guy with a lot of size 44+ pants in his closet. That’s not just a tagline I use, it’s the truth. My posts represent an individual experience that might not work, or be appropriate for everyone. But my hope is that the journey I’ve taken can jolt people into realizing it’s never too late to make a change and get healthy.

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