I think that one of the greatest things about my recent journey is when someone tells me that I'm an inspiration to them. When I started this journey in February I wanted to get healthy, but I also hoped that along the way I'd be able to encourage and inspire others as well. So when I hear those words come from another person "you inspire me" I am both thrilled beyond imagination and yet fearful at the same time. It is hard to explain that dual feeling. I think the excitement is easily understood, but I guess the fearful part may seem strange. I guess a lot of that goes back to who I used to be.
As a younger man, I was always quite impressed with myself and I wouldn't hesitate to tell you how wonderful I was. I was a legend in my own mind. Over the past 4-5 years, my life has changed so dramatically (changes for which I am eternally grateful) and I always try to approach life with a sense of humility. So now when someone tells me that I inspire them I think there is still that brief moment of fear inside of me that the egomaniac that once was there will rear his ugly head (or ego). I have found that if I approach every situation now with a sense of humility I am able to keep the egomaniac on lock down. I guess that may be counter to what culture teaches us today, but it is now just who I am and I like this person SO much better.
Recently, I've been thinking about what it is that inspires me. And I started to think about all of the people in my life who are a source of inspiration to me. I noticed that it's not people who are in the news, or who make a lot of money, or who are superstars, but rather, its people, everyday people, like me and you. People who believe in what they are doing and who achieve true success at their endeavors through hard work, but who are also very humble in their approach.
One person who comes to mind regularly is my friend, Anita Mills. Anita and I grew up together in the same hometown. We played Little League baseball together and graduated from the same high school together. We lost touch after high school but like many people we reconnected on Facebook. Anita, like me, was overweight for most of her life. A couple of years ago, she decided to do something about it. So she asked her Doctor for some advice and he gave her 4 simple rules to follow. Anita followed those steps and has since lost 240 pounds!!!!! Yes! I said 240 pounds. She did all of this with no pills, or shakes, or surgery. Just common sense eating habits and exercise.
Anita kept her journey private until she had lost most of her weight. Her Doctor recommended that she do that. But once she lost the weight, she told everyone. And I am so happy that she did because after I saw her amazing transformation on Facebook I reached out to her. I wanted to know how she did it. She shared her journey with me. I was SO inspired. I wanted to be healthy too. At the time I weighed 365 pounds and I felt like I was destined to a life of being overweight and, most likely, an early death as a result. But Anita's story gave me hope. So her inspiration, coupled with my desire to get healthy. pushed me to the make the decision to get healthy.
Anita is just a regular person. Although I think she's beyond amazing for what she has accomplished she didn't have a magic pill to make it happen. She just worked hard and stayed determined. That is what inspires me about her story.
So now when people tell me that I inspire them, I truly just feel like I'm paying it forward. I'm just passing on the inspiration that I got from my friend, Anita. You've heard of the "Butterfly Effect"? I call this the "Anita Effect". I can't help but smile to think about all of the lives that will be changed because of her story.
You can read more about Anita here: http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/04/22/weight.loss.anita.mills/index.html
Another person who I've recently had the privilege to get to meet is a young lady by the name of Lisa Broome-Price. Lisa is a very quiet, unassuming person. She always has a kind word, or a smile for you, and she is the type of person who just always makes you feel comfortable around her.
Lisa is also a runner. Not a runner like I try to be, but a runner. Lisa ran her first half marathon in April of this year. That, in an of itself, is quite an accomplishment. She ran the 13.1 mile course in a time of 2 hours 49 minutes and 28 seconds. That is a pace of 12:56 minutes per mile. And while that is a great time for anybody running her first half marathon, Lisa wanted to improve. She wanted to be better at running. So Lisa spent the Spring and Summer training with a local running group, John's Striders. She lost weight and spend countless hours pounding the pavement logging her miles. Lisa ran her 2nd half marathon on October 23rd. She ran this half marathon in a time of 2 hours 1 minute and 19 seconds. That is an average pace of 9:15 per mile!
In only a matter of 6 months, Lisa was able to cut over 3 1/2 minutes off of her pace. In running terms that is beyond amazing! For her achievement, Lisa was named as the 2011 Most Improved Runner of the Year, an award that was well deserved.
I have actually had the pleasure of getting to run with Lisa. Well actually, it was more like I had the pleasure of meeting Lisa and then watching her run into the distance as I struggled along at my 12 minute per mile pace. But Lisa inspires me! Seeing what she has done inspires me to keep running. I know that with hard work and determination that I can be faster too. I can be a better runner like Lisa. There was nothing special about Lisa as a runner when she started her journey. She was an ordinary person just like you and me. She didn't have magic, winged shoes that made her go faster. She simply focused on what she wanted to achieve, worked hard, and made it happen (and then some). That inspires me beyond words.
You can read more about Lisa here: http://www.runthebluegrass.org/2011s-race/the-bluegrasss-most-improved-runners-of-the-year-award-2011
These are just a couple of examples of the people in my life who inspire me. There are so many people out there who inspire me on a daily basis. Take the time and look around sometime at all of the amazing people who are out there doing absolutely amazing things. You may be surprised at some of the heroes that are in your life every day. Look for that inspiration from others, seek it out, use it to achieve your dreams, and then pay it forward to the next person. You never know what amazing things might be accomplished by someone else who once told you "you inspire me".