As part of the Nature's Path #OnMyPath campaign, we've been asking people what they're doing to give themselves a healthier, happier life. We've heard all kinds of wonderful stories from you (see the stories & tell us yours here), but we also wanted to share a story from one of our wonderful Nature’s Path team members.
James Smith is the Social Media Specialist here at the Nature’s Path head office. James loves everything about social media and engaging with our amazing community. And although he’s a self-proclaimed cat lover, he is no Garfield! Outside of work, James has learned to love running and working out. James' consistent dedication to an active lifestyle has allowed him to lose 100 lbs in a span of 5 years, while gaining the energy and confidence to lead a better life.
"My enthusiasm sets my goals, while my determination ensures I reach them."
James, what encouraged you to pursue your weight loss journey and lose 100 lbs?
I began this weight loss journey around 5 years ago with no specific goal in mind other than to improve my quality of life. My enthusiasm sets my goals, while my determination ensures I reach them.
How do you feel now that you’re on the tail end of losing 100 lbs?
I feel really good. It wasn’t just a diet. You know with diets, you kind of do it, it works and you stop, but then you’re going to creep back to how you used to be. I had to make a complete lifestyle change in order to come this far. Now that I’ve hit my goal, it’s something I want to continue. I don’t want to lose more weight. I’m in a healthy place and have more energy, so I want to keep going to the gym and running because I love it! In fact, I just finished my first half marathon.
Congratulations! That’s so awesome. When did you start long distance running?
I signed up for the Sun Run in 2015 and it wasn’t that bad. I thought, “This wasn’t so hard – I should do something harder,” so I signed up for the Scotiabank Half Marathon. I did it on a Sunday and on the Monday, I couldn’t wait for the next run, so I signed up for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in October. I honestly can’t wait. I wish it was tomorrow!
Wow, did anyone inspire you to pursue this path?
I find that if you look to other people for inspiration, it’s easy to pass the blame or pass the reward away from yourself. It’s important to be a self-motivator and believe in yourself. If there’s a goal that you’re reaching for, be proud of your accomplishments, and remember – what would you rather make, progress or excuses?
Did you face any hardships on this path?
Some days were difficult when it came to motivating myself. I felt tired, or there were deadlines looming and I didn’t know if I could make it to the gym. There were temptations like cake or delicious treats, which are always plentiful in the office. Some days it was really hard, but I had to think long term.
Was there a period of time where you slipped?
Always over the holidays because the holidays have the best food. I love Christmas food. Plus, with the cool of winter, I was wearing big sweaters and baggy clothes. Before I knew it, it was December 26. I stepped on the scale and had put on 10 lbs.
That’s a bummer. What did you do when you slipped?
It’s a tricky balance because you have to allow yourself the little things, but remember that you’re going to have to work it off later. I have silly sayings that pop into my head such as “Whatever you eat in secret, you wear in public” as little reminders.
What were the unexpected blessings of pursuing your fitness journey?
How I see myself has changed. When I see my reflection now, I’m pleasantly surprised. I also have so much more energy now. I never expected to have this much energy and to feel so confident about myself. I was very retiring before and wanted to hurry home, get to my room, watch TV, and not be around people because I wasn’t comfortable with how I looked or felt. Now I feel happier, more confident and can move more.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a similar path?
It’s a really long, hard road, but super worth it in the end. Just be conscious of every decision you make and what you’re eating. Be in the moment and take full advantage of any opportunity that comes your way. For example, if someone asks you to go for a walk, then go for a walk. If you have 10 minutes to move, get up and move – even if it’s going for a short walk outside or around the office.
A little bit of advice I set myself was there are no excuses for not working out today. An hour a day will get you on your way. It might take a long time, but it’s worth it!
Even if you lack equipment, all you really need is a water bottle and pair of shoes. I remember not having weights, so I would get the empty soda bottles and put water in them as weights. I even went into my dad’s shed and used his sledgehammer as a weight, or put books into my backpack and go for walks just so that it was a bit of an extra challenge.
That’s really incredible, James, and some solid advice! What is ahead on your path?
I want to help anyone I can. It’s really hard to start a journey. I know this is a bad paraphrase, but you know the saying, “Every journey starts with a single step?” Making the decision to make the first step is difficult. If you’re pushed into it, you’re not going to continue it. You have to continually make the choice to start and that’s something no one else can help you with other than yourself.
I learned to love exercise. Whether it’s walking, running, spending time in the gym or doing yoga, it’s important to be in the moment. Enjoy the fresh air, pushing past what you couldn’t do yesterday.
Thank you James for sharing your path. You can stay in touch with him and say hello via Twitter!
Are you on the path to a healthier, happier you?