How Swapping Booze With Jogging Changed my Life

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During my teenage years I battled a recurring knee injury.  I’ll spare you all the painstaking details, but picture your knee cap dislocating, bones snapping and forcing their way through muscle and tissues. My leg felt (and sounded) like it was being snapped in half, only to collapse under the pain and pressure of my missing knee cap.  Now picture this happening over and over and over.  Needless to say I spent most of my teenage years on crutches going through surgery after surgery.

I’m not saying this to get pity, although, let me tell you it was a condition worthy of pity. I still get knots in my stomach thinking of the pain.  What I am saying is that for many years I always told myself I couldn’t fully participate in sports or aggressive exercise.  I had an excuse: I have a bad knee.  And while this is true, very true, I used it as an excuse.

I didn’t even try.

I spent the better part of my 20’s living my life on repeat; work all week and await the weekend where the real fun would begin. My life was a broken record of good friends, clanking glasses, hearty laughs, senseless conversations, hangovers and blurred memories.

It wasn’t until my 30′s that I began to question this behaviour; maybe due to age, maturity or natural change, but examining my life I was realizing that alcohol was taking more than it was giving back.

Early on in my 30′s I developed a budding interest in Buddhism, and began attending a weekly meditation class. The effects of this class were slowly seeping into my life. I was beginning to contemplate and study my mind, my habits, and my life; questioning if being handcuffed to old habits made sense anymore? There was no doubt change was occurring.

The biggest change for me was learning how to observe my mind.  I discovered many startling revelations, but two that stand out in particular:

  • The constant parties and social engagements were a distraction; a distraction from my true self.  I was holding myself back.
  • My mind likes to tell me lies.  When we define ourselves by our projections (projections created by our minds – the same tricky mind that likes lying to us) we end up repeating this story over and over like a broken record, we then become so familiar with this story that if we’re not careful we become the broken record.

We lock ourselves in our own personal fiction that we already know who we are based on fears, logic, conditioning and habits.

We are limiting our true potential.  I was limiting my true potential.

Take off the handcuffs, shake them off and throw them away, allow the blood to flow back into your hands.

Once you recognize what your mind is doing you can pinpoint exact instances in your life where it creeps in and handcuffs you. Recognizing these instances gives you the power to change.

Change seeps in slowly, but it always start’s with today.

I love anything to do with being outside and my girlfriend wanted to take up running, so instead of staying handcuffed to my old habits, my self-limiting beliefs of “you can’t do that” “you have a bad knee, you can’t jog”, I said “Sure!  Why not, what’s the worst that will happen?”  The worst case scenario is my knee would ache for a few days and I’d make the decision  to stop.

That week we set out around the lake. We set the timer for half an hour; running for one minute and walking for one minute.

Since that day, I now jog weekly and  have completed numerous races.  I have never felt better.  I counteract sore knees with yoga classes, and guess what?

I can jog; I always could jog, it was only my mind telling me I couldn’t.

My party days have drastically decreased and my Saturday morning jogs around the lake have drastically increased.  I still enjoy spending time with friends; but I recognize that life is about balance and I don’t need to keep doing the same old thing just because that’s what I’ve always done.

The numerous benefits of jogging that have seeped into my life:

1. Weight loss

I wasn’t trying to lose weight, but it just falls off of you!

2. More energy

It might seem like running would take lots out of you and it does but my energy levels are increased for the entire next day after running.

3. Strengthen muscles and bone density

I have never felt more powerful and strong than I do right now.

4. Fight insomnia

Sleep comes easy when you’ve expended lots of energy throughout the day.

5. Builds confidence

You will look and feel good. It’s empowering to say um heck ya, I just ran 10K!

6. Stress relief

I often run right from the office to the Lakeshore and once I start  I can feel the day’s stress sloughing off of me.  Running naturally reduces anxiety and depression.

7. Mind training

Running for me is a lot like meditation, it improves my focus and clarity; I become one with the moment.  I’m not thinking about what I have to do tomorrow or later that evening, I am running in the moment, feeling the gravel under my feet and the sun on my shoulders.

8. Attitude improvement

You can’t help but feel good when you run.  Negativity seeps out of your pores and positivity seeps in.

9. Sense of accomplishment

Running is a big accomplishment.  It feels so good and that feel good feeling last way after your done jogging.

10. Social

I have a running group and we spend lots of time together.  It’s fun to plan races and weekend jogs around the lake.

11. Stamina/Endurance

I used to get winded walking up a flight of stairs; my endurance has drastically increased.  I now have an extra hop in my step running up the stairs at work.

You need to stop telling yourself you can’t do it, you need to stop the excuses. I’m living proof that after years of debilitating injuries you can pick yourself up and accomplish things beyond your wildest imagination.  You can do it; you can change habits and create new ones. Your future self will thank you.

Featured photo credit:  Living Fitness

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  • Marjorie

    Thank you for this wonderful article! I took up jogging about two years ago around the time I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 26. Though I underwent numerous surgeries I told myself I would never stop running. I went through a double mastectomy and reconstruction, but never stopped running, and to date I’ve completed 9 5Ks, a 10K, a 2013-mile bike ride and am training for my first 10-mile race. I run 10-15 miles a week and have never felt healthier or better. I didn’t let the breast cancer or my surgeries dictate what I could or couldn’t do. Thank you for sharing!

    • Tina Williamson

      What an incredible story Marjorie! It just goes to show you want a determined, positive mindset can accomplish. I spent so many years holding myself back and allowing my fears to rule me. I like you have never felt better or healthier (even though I’m older now)
      Thanks for your story it’s so nice to hear inspiring stories of perseverance and determination.

  • Sheila

    Thank you for your inspiring story. I am also on a quest this year to finally get healthy once & for all. I’m tired of the yo-yo dieting & I plan to make a lifestyle change instead of starting another diet. Gone are the days of depriving myself of the foods I enjoy eating. Instead I will make healthier choices most of the time but I will also continue to eat the foods I love but only in moderation. I have also decided to get outdoors more and go for a walk on a regular basis. After all, I’ve come to realize that a fancy gym membership isn’t the only thing I need to get myself in shape.

    • Tina Williamson

      I love getting out of the gym and getting outside! I agree there is so much more to being healthy than spending hours in the gym! I also believe that everything in moderation, portion control can have such a huge impact! Good luck on your journey this year :)