Home Health & Fitness Exercise

Just One Step

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By Cliff McCain, Ed.D. |

“It may be Hodgkin’s Lymphoma” The words seemed to stop the world as we knew it.  The oncologist was indeed correct and my life started a new phase. One of treatment and then, fortunately, recovery. While the treatments were successful, another issue had developed.  I was now as out of shape as I had ever been in my life.  The lack of exercise had taken a toll and the steroids in the treatments helped me put on excess weight.  Like many, I wanted to get in shape but didn’t know how to take that first step. But that is indeed the key; just take that one step. . . and then another. 

When I decided to get healthy again, I decided to make it a marathon, not a sprint.  I did not get out of shape in a week.  I couldn’t expect to get in shape in that manner. So, I began with walking.  I walked a block, then two blocks.  Then I walked a mile. Once I felt like I was a “walker” I began setting goals.  I would try to get in so many minutes in each day.  It became a motivation for me.  Before I knew it, the walk was not something I had to do. I actually enjoyed it!  Little could I have imagined I was still at the beginning of my fitness journey. 

I was fortunate to live in a neighborhood conducive to walking, with one loop equaling one mile.  One day as I walked, I was about to go down a slight hill.  It seemed like the right moment and I decided to jog slowly down the hill, probably less than a quarter mile.  As I finished that short jog, I had a great feeling.  One that pushed me on for weeks.  I began to continue my downhill run each day.  I went a few yards farther each day until I was going about a half a loop. 

As I went down the hill one morning I suddenly decided to go as far as I could on this run.  I went a little slower than usual, probably not much faster than I walk.  But I kept going and going and before I knew it, I was approaching the one-mile mark.  As I crossed that line, I knew it was a big moment.  From that point on, I was not limited by thoughts of what I couldn’t do. I was motivated by what I might accomplish. 

That first walk occurred in 2012.  I now currently run 3-6 miles, three or four times a week.  On several occasions, I have run 10 miles.  I am in no way a professional runner, but I know I have changed my lifestyle into an active, healthy one. 

I hope that everyone that has wanted to take that first step will do it. Take that step I took eight years ago. Do not fear failure. Embrace the challenge and see what you can do.  It is worth the risk. 

Cliff McCain works as a learning specialist in the athletic department at the University of Mississippi. He spent two decades working as a coach and administrator at the secondary education level. McCain holds a doctor of education degree in higher education and master’s degrees in history and educational administration.  

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