Today’s guest blog comes from Laurie Stewart, the president and CEO of Sound Community Bank.
It is difficult to imagine that what started as a diet more than six years ago has led me from a fat woman to a fit woman about to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
After my husband died of a rare form of cancer, I surrounded myself with the normal comforts – work and more work; family and extended family; volunteerism and board work. Constantly busy, I had no interest in any kind of physical activity and I blossomed from “chubby” to obese.
A good friend decided that I – like my husband Ken – would meet an early death if I didn’t get some exercise. So, I embarked on a mission to change my eating habits and establish an exercise routine. In the beginning I weighed well over two hundred pounds. And, I can safely say none of it was muscle. Over a nine-month period I lost nearly 100 pounds and I have stayed within a five-pound range of my goal for more than five years.
At first, I walked. Then I walked some more. Then I actually ran a few steps. Then a few more! Those steps led to my first 5K and ultimately resulted in two half marathons and one full marathon – with lots of 5 and 10Ks in between. My goal is always to be in the middle of my age range group. Although I don’t always make it and I have been last, I always finish. But even when I finished last I was excited about my accomplishment. After all, last is still way ahead of those that didn’t even try!
Now I am embarking on an even bigger challenge: A five-day climb to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world! I’ve utilized my previous half-marathon training and spent lots of time on the treadmill to prepare. My goal has been to walk on the treadmill at max incline for 60 to 90 minutes three times a week and I mix that up with long walks from the Seattle waterfront to Madison Park and back. (Lots of hills!)
Even with all my training, my biggest fear is that I will not be prepared. There is a lot of concern about altitude sickness, but I am more concerned about just being able to put one foot in front of the other for five days. I encourage you to challenge yourself this week and see what you can accomplish. You don’t need to be the fastest or the strongest, just take those first few steps to a healthier you and see where it takes you … perhaps you too will end up climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro someday!