“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” – Lao Tzu
I was self-grounded, stuck in unhealthy ways – eating anything at odd times, working all hours, sleeping when exhausted, drinking coffee at 4:00 PM, enjoying a sugary treat at 9:00 PM. I was living the so-called “startup life.” I justified this lifestyle as an investment towards a better life in the later years. I internalized this as the cost of a career in Silicon Valley.
I was wrong.
And my family bore the actual cost of this unhealthy lifestyle. Something had to change.
In Jan 2018, leveraging my new Apple Watch, I started tracking my movement with the goal of 5,000 steps a day. I set a low bar fearing failure. After a couple of months, I realized I was not always completing all the rings on my watch. Goals drive me, and I wanted those circles to be complete. I started walking for at least 30 minutes every day, and I got hooked. For the next eight months, I was walking, not for minutes, but distance. A mile or two became three and four and sometimes even more. The more I walked, the better I felt. Alongside this, I made some simple changes to my sleeping and eating habits – slept at the same time every night, ate only at stipulated times. Towards Fall 2018, I was feeling good in my conditioning that I ran my first 5K in over a decade. It was challenging!
At the start of 2019, I set a goal to run five 5Ks in the year. I started
looking for the events that I could participate in and saw the Run Local Events (formerly called Represent Running). I noticed they had an 8K run on Feb 3, 2019 (408k). Knowing well that I won’t be able to run the distance entirely, I told myself to participate with “finish without injury” in mind. Running alongside a friend, I was successful in running the full distance. I felt great and thankful. Also, so excited that I signed up for the entire five-race series organized by Run Local Events.
At the close of 2019, I had run 1x5k, 1x8k, 6x10k, 2x12k official races. I also tracked 90 runs of at least 5.25k in the year.
Over the past few months, some folks asked me – what changed? What do you recommend to others?
Here’s my attempt at articulating those responses coherently.
- Prioritize Yourself: Save 30-45 minutes every day for yourself. Be active, whether you walk or jog or sprint is immaterial. Also, pay attention to your mental health. Those who love us the most often deal with our unacceptable behavior when we are not at our best mentally. J.T Service recently told me, “People who move are usually happy.” I agree.
- Be Consistent: Charles Duhigg wrote a whole book on “The Power of Habit.” One can rid of the old habits only when you create new ones. Whether it is a particular time, a venue, or a friend – create a plan and stick to it. Make a contract with yourself and follow-through regularly.
- Compete With Yourself: When I put my headsets on for the run, I focus on my objectives – finish without injury. Set your own goals, be motivated by them, and do not let anything or anyone else bother you.
- Find Your Champions: Self-motivated or not, we all need a support system. Whether it is your significant other, family, friends, or co-workers, create a group of folks who will root for you, be in your court, and be willing to show you the mirror when you falter. Besides my family, without whom none of this was possible, I used the Apple Watch rings as a way to keep me honest.
Whether you are on this self-care path already or thinking about it – remember, the first step is the most important towards that beautiful journey.
Earlier today, I picked up my bib for the 2020 version of the 408k race scheduled for tomorrow, 2/2/2020. I am excited, again, and very thankful to my wife and kids to being my Champions.