Healthier 2021: Mark's Accomplishing More Than He Thought He Could

4 min read

This post appears as part of our Healthier 2021 series, in which we follow three WebMD team members as they strive to improve their health this year. You can follow their journeys here.

By Mark Spoor

Back in December, WebMD sent an internal email asking employees if anyone would like to blog about trying to lose the weight they had gained during The Great Pandemic of 2020 (and now, sadly, 2021).

To be honest, when the email came, my mind was anywhere but on fitness. The holidays were coming, and my house was full of those great smells that the holidays bring: cookies baking, big meals and sides being prepared, and, if you're married to my wife, candles, candles, and more candles.

Oh my lord, the candles.

Still, for a day or so, I went back and forth in my head about whether or not I should raise my hand. I knew it was going to be hard (fitness journeys always are), but I knew that whether I volunteered or not, I was going to have to do something. My clothes were fitting tighter, and with all the stress of the pandemic, I just wasn't feeling right.

And then it hit me: Knowing that I had a blog looming every week would probably give me the push I needed to fully commit. So I raised my hand.

I'm so glad I did.

Was it tough sometimes? Absolutely. Were there days when the only reason I got on my bike was that I had a blog due in the next couple of days? Guilty.

But here's the thing: I learned that with the right motivation, and the right circumstances, I do have it in me to be disciplined when it comes to fitness.

And so do you.

When this whole thing started, there was nobody less athletic than me. I was that kid in gym class that fell 50 yards behind the pack when it came time to run. My sport growing up: bowling -- one of the only sports where pizza and french fries are almost mandatory equipment.

As I became an adult, I honestly thought the whole fitness thing had passed me by. I had never really been taught how to exercise, and I saw myself as awkward and uncoordinated when it came to anything even approaching athletics. So I never would have dreamed of taking fitness classes at a gym. I'd be way too self-conscious.

Of course with the pandemic, the classes I had avoided in gyms were now happening online,  and once I had the chance to try them alone, in the privacy of my home office, I came to a startling revelation.

I can do this -- as long as I stay out of my own way.

If you're in the spot I was in last December -- if you know you need to make a change but you’re  not sure you can do it -- know that you can.

You really can.

First, find at least one real reason to do it. You may have more than one. I had two:

  • Fear of diabetes
  • A need to be healthy for my family

You have yours. It doesn't matter what they are as long as they're important to you. Nobody needs to know about it. Just find it, and remind yourself of it every day.

Once you have your reason, find activities that you'd like to do. Whether it's biking, swimming, running, yoga, walking, jumping rope, or anything else that gets you moving and your heart pumping, make sure you find things you think you'll stick with.

Next, find people who will hold you accountable. For me, it was all of you, as well as my fellow Healthier 2021 bloggers, Laura and Bill. They're both doing so well. I'm in total awe of their positivity, completely proud of their accomplishments, and honored to call them friends.

Most importantly, be patient with yourself and focus on the long game. You don't have to be ready to run a marathon tomorrow. It doesn't matter that you can't touch your toes yet. One day, you will. It doesn't matter if a walk around the block feels like a lofty goal. Keep at it. One day, you'll crush it, then you’ll look for the next challenge, and conquer that too.

It's your journey -- and yours alone. Nobody's keeping score. Nobody's making fun of you. In fact, you'll be surprised at how many people will end up in your corner. I sure was.

It doesn't matter where you are on your journey. The important thing is that you're on one.