A 10 Year Fitness Journey by Andrew Campbell

andrew after arizona distance classic










Andrew Campbell is from West Palm Beach Florida. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.  Andrew has worked professionally at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida International University in Miami, and is currently working as an Assistant Director for Residential Education at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ.  In his free time, Andrew enjoys running, working out at the gym, singing with his chorus, watching college and pro football, and volunteering in the LGBT community.

A 10-YEAR FITNESS JOURNEY by Andrew Campbell

2014 marked the 10 year anniversary of when I decided to make a change to live a healthier lifestyle. A lot of things in my life were coming to a head in 2004 and would begin a transformation in multiple aspects of my life, but my health would be the one that would take center stage. At the beginning of 2004, I weighed between 230-240 lbs at 5ft 6 in tall, which is the heaviest I had been in my adult life. My doctor had been telling me for years to lose weight, but their messages went in one ear and out the other. So what finally got me on the road to living a healthier lifestyle. I would like to say that one of the many messages that I had heard from my doctor finally stuck with me. But it wasn’t; it was vanity. I had seen pictures from my mentor’s wedding that occurred in January 2004, and when I saw pictures of me, I was absolutely horrified. I literally did not recognize my self. I looked through more pictures, from staff events, and was again horrified by what I saw. I decide that I had to do something. After trying many different things, in May 2004 one of my colleagues at the institution I was working at during that time invited me to a Weight Watchers at Work meeting. I figured, “what the heck,” I’ll try it, everything else had failed. The first week on the program was not as hard as I thought, and the next week, when I weighed in, I had lost 5 lbs. I was like “WHOA!!!” this was amazing, something that was actually working. Seeing those results and the fact that the program was something that was manageable, I stuck with it.

After about three months on the program and losing about 30 lbs, I knew that I would have to add a regular exercise routine to my new eating habits that I had developed on Weight Watchers. I had tried the gym before and I did not enjoy doing weight training at the time. So I decided to give running a try. I started running a minute, then walking a couple minutes, then running another minute and doing that pattern during a 40 minute work out. As the weeks progressed, I started running a little longer and walking less, until I was running the entire 30-40 minutes. I realized that running is not only a great way to exercise, but it was also a way for me to clear my mind and recharge myself mentally and emotionally.

February 2005, I had gone from 233 when I started this journey in May 2004 to 170 lbs, which was my goal weight. The last time I weighed 170 was right before I started college in 1994. I was absolutely ecstatic! Eventually, I would get down to 163 lbs, my lowest weight in my adult life time.

Between 2005 and 2014, I would have ups and downs through this journey, and have learned quite a few things:

1)      Just as easily as you lost the weight, you can gain it back. You hear this all the time, but I didn’t believe it until it happened to me. Due to being sidelined from running due to ankle and shin problems in October 2006, I was beginning to develop and developing old habits that I had, I had started to gain weight to the point that I had to put on 25 lbs. I had to get focused again with my eating and alternate my fitness routine as a result. Eventually I would loose the 25 lbs I gained, but there have been many times that I have gone back and forth with gaining and losing weight. This is something that I will always have to work on, but I have to stay focus and adjust my eating and fitness routine, especially during busy and stressful points of my life.

2)      Things You Thought Were Impossible Can Be Possible. Before I even started on this journey, I would hear of people doing things like marathons and half-marathons and think to myself “there is no way I could do that!” Even when I started running, it was maybe 2 or 3 miles at the most, and still when I hear people doing marathons and half-marathons and was still thinking to myself “there is no way I could do that!” In 2010 after being sidelined for 4 years, I consulted with my doctor about the problems I had with my shin and ankles when I ran. The answer was as simple as getting the right shoe and right orthotic due to the slight flatness of my feet (mind you, I had asked this question many to doctors and not one gave me a simple answer to this until that point). Once we solved that problem, then one of my colleagues who was still at my current institution encouraged me to try a half-marathon. Many of my colleagues had done half-marathons in the past two years, and even with him asking me this, I still was not convinced I could do it. But he was very convincing and I decided to at least to try to train for it. The training program that I did had me adding a mile every other weekend on my long runs.   Before I knew it, it was a couple of weeks before the half marathon and I had run 12 miles. I couldn’t believe I had actually ran that far. So I completed my first half-marathon in 2011 and would go on to do two more in 2012 and 2013 respectively..

3)      Having a support system makes all the difference. This fitness journey has not been easy, but I have gotten through this with the support and encouragement of friends and family members. Just like with anything in life, having support system helps in order to keep you accountable to the goals that you have, offer you encouragement through those difficult times, and celebrate with you when reach those goals and milestones in your fitness journey. To those who have supported me along my journey and will continue to support me, THANK YOU!

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