Gary & Joyce Stath
Gary's and my journey to fitness began about seven years ago. In 2008, we went to Alaska to visit Gary's son, and soon realized that we were very out of shape. People in Anchorage take advantage of wonderful summer weather, and there were people biking, running, hiking, and walking everywhere. As we were trudging up a mountain and fighting for breath, runners were flying past us. That's when we began talking about getting in shape. We talked for several months while we sat on the couch and watched reruns of Law and Order.
In January of 2009, I turned 42. That was a very difficult birthday for me because my father died of a heart attack when he was 42. Though I didn't really worry about dying, I hated the idea of being 42; the only thing I had ever associated with that number was losing my dad. I didn't even want to have to say '42'. I was becoming depressed, and Gary told me I had to get a grip or go to therapy. That's when I chose to be proactive and exercise; I was going to keep my heart healthy. Neither Gary nor I was obese, but we had some weight to lose, and we were definitely not fit. Going up stairs winded us, so we knew we had to make some changes. For me, it was difficult because I never had to worry about my weight until I hit my late thirties. I wasn't sure how to manage my nutrition or exercise.
In previous years, I would get on exercise kicks for a few weeks, and then quit. I was trying to decide what type of exercise to commit to, and Gary started running. This man is 16 years older than I, and has an artificial knee. I couldn't very well say that I couldn't run when he was out there doing it. I also had some friends who had begun running, so I decided to try it. Besides, it was free! Well, it's not, but that's another story in itself! Gary and I started by running on our gravel road. We had a one-mile route, and worked until we could run a mile without stopping. Then we were ready to run in town - where people might actually see us. I hated it! During every run I would lament about how hard it was, but then I would tell myself that if if were easy, everyone would do it. And when I finished a run, I felt so accomplished. That's what kept me going.
Fast forward to this summer, and we have run numerous 5Ks, a few 10Ks, several half marathons, and Gary has run two marathons. After we had been running for a couple years, I discovered Zumba. I became an instructor (Me, a fitness instructor? That's just crazy!). I began to branch out, and am now a Tabata trainer and HIIT instructor (very early in the morning), and Gary is a certified Spinning instructor. We have a whole new group of friends at the gym, and have never looked back. I am more fit at 48 than I have ever been, even in my teens. Is it always easy now? Absolutely not. I struggle with eating healthy foods, and sometimes I am just not motivated to workout. I know, though, that I always feel energized after I work out. Having friends who also value fitness and a healthy lifestyle helps, but for me, having a husband who not only supports my efforts, but also participates is critical. We are in this together, and if one of us is struggling, the other is there to encourage and nudge. We strive to model a healthy lifestyle for our children and grandchildren.
Besides helping me control my weight and making me stronger, I have reaped so many other benefits from our lifestyle change. Finishing a half marathon gave me confidence in every aspect of my life. If I can run 13.1 miles, I can do anything I set my mind to. Running gives me peace. When I've had a stressful day at school, I can go out for a run and return with a new perspective. Exercising gives me energy. Many mornings when I am driving to the gym at 5:00 am, I am thinking about how much I hate getting up so early. When I am driving from Everbody's to school, I feel amazing! I am ready to take on 100 thirteen-year-olds!
As you work toward your goals, please know that we all have stumbling blocks along the way. We have days when we eat crap all day, and quickly regret those choices. We skip workouts because we're too busy. The great thing is you can start fresh the next day! The staff of Everbody's will always be available to guide you, encourage you, and listen to you. Your story begins today. You have a whole new notebook with crisp, white pages. Choose your characters wisely. You need to surround yourself with people who support your goals. Choose your setting well. Avoid places that cause you to make poor choices or make you unhappy. Take your time in developing the plot; quick fixes never work. And know that this story will take a lifetime to write.