Living the Secret to a Healthy Life

I'm 18 weeks out from my Achilles injury and I wanted to share with you some good news. I went to my doctor and he cleared me for dancing, running, whatever I'd like to do. He did say this to me though: "You're about 6-8 weeks out from being back to your normal self. The good news is that with this type of major injury you won't have any degeneration over time, arthritis, but it will take you more time to build your strength up. Do you exercises and be patient."

Let me just take a moment to process that statement since I'm writing it about an hour after having seen him. I'm done with physical therapy, done with seeing the doctor, but I still have 6-8 weeks more of building my leg strength up until I'm back to a normal lifestyle of running, walking, and climbing stairs. I have worked really hard over the last 18 weeks, but I want to be honest and share with you a wrap up of where I'm at and to talk about what my "secret" is to living a healthy lifestyle.

Yesterday I got up early and participated in the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation's 5K Walk/Run. Yesterday's race was the 6th time the race has been run in honor of the ALSF's founder, Alex, who passed away from cancer several years ago. Alex's story is one that I hold dear to me: She was diagnosed neuroblastoma and fought hard until she passed away from cancer at the young age of 8. Before Alex died, she decided to raise money to help other kids and her dream was to raise enough money selling lemonade to build a hospital to help sick kids. Since 2005, more than $80 million has been raised to fund cancer research grants. My family and I have participated in the yearly celebration of Alex's life at the local school where she used to go and I have run a marathon in her honor.

What is the secret to living a healthy life?

Never giving up.

Alex's parents have been through some extremely difficult times in losing their daughter, but they have created a foundation to help other kids fighting cancer. Yesterday's 5K race was about me standing up and walking through 3.1 miles to help support other sick kids. When I arrived yesterday at the race, I started walking around and I saw all the tents for the families who had teams. They were there at 8 a.m. on a Sunday because either a child of theirs had died or was fighting to beat cancer. Cancer has affected my own family. I lost my grandfather to prostate cancer and I worked for a cancer research organization for 15 and a half years. I saw and heard the most amazing stories of how survivors fought to beat the disease.

I often feel so petty as I worry about my own problems. When I look back at the last four months and see how difficult it was for me to recover, I take a moment to accept that, own it, but also put my life in perspective. Then I think about how I can give back. Living healthy to me, means getting off my ass and making a difference. There's no magic wand that I can have waved at me to make my problems go away. There isn't. If I want to be able to run again and to do other races to raise more money for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation, then I needed to walk yesterday's 5K.

During the race, I was passed by more than a 1,000 people (my bib was 2,309 so there was a great turnout!). People ran by me. Kids ran by me. Older people ran by me. Out of shape people ran by me, but I stayed firm. I walked, concentrated on my breathing and kept on moving. Yesterday's race wasn't about breaking records. It was about accepting the fact of where I am on the journey and to build my strength up so that I can be stronger tomorrow and the day after that and so on.

I have often written about this topic on my blog, but I can't stress in how much this has saved me time and time again: I need to keep moving. It doesn't matter if it's my first few steps across the room several months ago without a crutch or the 5K I walked yesterday. What matters is that there is patience, hard work and lots and lots of learning and growing to do.

I'm living the secret to a healthy life because I try. I fail. And then I try again. Every time I see ads for get rich quick schemes or lose weight fast infomercials, I just want to scream at the TV: "No!" The secret that I'll share with you is pretty common sense. Your mom or dad probably shared it to you when you were young:

"You can't run before you can walk."

What I'm doing today is part of my journey. I can take this idea and apply it to:

  • Being a parent
  • Writing a book
  • Recovering from an injury
  • Being in a relationship
  • Learning how to tie my shoes

It truly doesn't matter. What matters is that I'm trying, learning, get tired, fail, rest and then dust myself off and try again. Things come together but it takes time. Again, no fairy godmother is going to swoop in and save me. Do I ever wish that in my heart of hearts? No. My wife would tell you like I like to complain, and I do, but that's part of my coping mechanism. I need to vent, let it out and then get back to work. I'm on a journey and I don't want to know the end of the book before I've read the rest of it. It's that simple to me. That's the secret that has helped me be the person that I am today.

Today I received the good news that I no longer need to see the doctor about my Achilles injury. I want to celebrate that. I want to thank my wife for her patience and all the times she and my children did my wash for me because of how difficult it was for me to climb down the stairs. And for all the times my wife walked our dog at night, because I couldn't. I learned a lot over the last nearly five months that was something important. I'm not taking for granted walking these days and I can see and be empathetic in a way that I didn't truly understand before. These experiences have become part of me and I am using them in my work, life and on moving forward.

Living the secret to a healthy life is hard. We all know how to do it: Eat and drink in moderation, exercise, take care of yourself mentally, physically, and spiritually and, most important of all, love yourself. But this isn't the sexy answer that's going to sell millions of books because it's hard work and needs to be done from now until we die. Who the hell wants to hear that? I do. And I'm hoping that you do, too.

Thank you for going on this journey with me over the last 18 weeks. If you've read these Achilles posts, I'd appreciate your sending me a comment to let me know.