Monday, October 22, 2012
Mark Rucker on Getting Fit: Begin journey to good health by plotting course, setting goals
“You look like a Philadelphia lawyer.”
I’ll never forget my Granddad saying those words to me many times as a child when my family and I would visit him and Granny in Pike County for the holidays and get dressed up to go to church. I really don’t know where he got that saying from, and we didn’t have any lawyers in the family, but I always felt a sense of pride when he’d say that.
People often ask me why I decided to become an attorney. Honestly, I don’t have a great response like I imagine many of my peers formulated prior to embarking upon their legal careers. There was no overwhelming desire to right the wrongs of the world or to make a load of money (as I think many young wanna-be lawyers think), or to make a name for myself as a legal scholar.
The weird thing is that I remember being 16 years old, in high school and one day deciding that I wanted to be an attorney. No rhyme or reason to the decision. I didn’t know any attorneys. My parents didn’t have any attorneys as friends. There were no attorneys in my extended family either. The only thing that I can think of that might have influenced my decision was the way that I always felt when Granddad would say those words to me. A sense of pride. A sense of importance. Whatever the reasoning, I set that goal for myself at the ripe old age of 16, and at the age of 26 I successfully completed that goal (and even added an MBA along the way).
When I started my fitness and health journey back in February of 2011, I really didn’t know where it would take me. But I know that somewhere in the back of my mind I knew where I wanted it to go. I wanted to be an Ironman. I remember when I was in law school, I was fascinated with the Ironman competitors and the way that they pushed their bodies to the extreme. Pushing themselves to the point of breaking. I always wondered what it would be like to know that you could push yourself that hard. And when I started this journey I wanted to find out.
I knew that running would be my weakest of the three sports involved with triathlon so that is why I focused on running first. I initially set the goal of completing a 5K. And after nine weeks of the Couch 2 5K program I accomplished that goal. My next goal was to complete a 10K. Again, after a six-week training program, I conquered that goal. I then set the half-marathon as my goal. And after a tough 13-week training program, I managed to complete that goal. And finally, after a 16-week training program, I successfully conquered my final running goal of completing a marathon.
I’m not telling you this to try to impress you. I honestly don’t think it’s that impressive. Having lived the story it just seems very natural to me. And having been 385 pounds prior to starting my journey, I know that it’s something that anyone can accomplish. I don’t possess any special genetic predisposition that makes me a runner. To the contrary; I’m actually quite awful at running. So that’s why I don’t find it to be that big of a deal. No. The reason I’m sharing this with you is to stress the importance of setting goals on your journey.
My theory on weight loss and health has always been small steps. You don’t have to take giant leaps to have a complete life change. But even with the small steps you have to have a direction in which to head to make the journey worthwhile. You have to plot your course.
Oh I knew from the beginning that I wanted to be an Ironman, but I also knew the fact of the matter was that it was going to take a long time to get to that point. So I set incremental goals along the path that would eventually lead me to that ultimate goal. And by taking small steps I was able to accomplish each of those goals. And as I managed to achieve more of the smaller goals, I got closer and closer to that ultimate goal.
The principle of setting goals works with any aspect of your life. It worked for me as I set out to become an attorney. I was still in high school when I set that ultimate goal. As I walked the path to that end result, I continued to set small goals for myself that were readily achievable. And as the smaller goals were accomplished, I got closer and closer to becoming an attorney. And, ultimately, I reached the end of that path and achieved my ultimate goal.
If you’re thinking about changing some aspect of your life, stop and think about what you want the end goal to be. Where do you want to end up? Just realize that you’re not going to get there overnight.
Now think about the course that will take you there, and set a goal that isn’t that far off. If you want to lose weight, then set a goal of losing 2 pounds over the next week. If you want to be a runner but you’re currently a couch potato like I was, then set a goal of walking 1 to 2 miles three times this week. And once you reach that goal, set another one. And then another. Always keep the long-term goal in sight but don’t be so blinded by that end result that you miss the successes that you can have along the way. Set those incremental goals. Take those small steps. You CAN do it. Dream. Plan. Achieve.
Mark D. Rucker is an attorney from Lexington who spent the majority of his adult life struggling with weight issues. As a result of his unhealthy lifestyle and weight, he suffered from high blood pressure, sleep apnea and was borderline diabetic. In February of 2011, at the age of 42, Rucker weighed over 365 pounds. It was then that he decided it was time to change his life. He now hopes to use his experience to help inspire and encourage others to begin their own journey to health and fitness. By focusing on his “small steps” philosophy, Rucker believes that anyone, at any age and in any physical condition, can change his or her life. Recently, he create a Facebook page called Get Moving Lexington to encourage the people of Lexington to get active.