Writer gains inspiration


Writer gains inspiration from series of fitness stories 

By Robyn Davis Sekula

January 18, 2008

This winter, I've enjoyed getting to know the three subjects of the “Fit and Loving It” series that Business First asked me to write on people who made conscious decisions to be healthier.

All three made significant progress toward their goals of getting into better shape and improving their lives. And, I have to admit, it's made me a little uncomfortable -- in a good way.

Shawn Herbig was the first person I interviewed. (His story appeared in the Jan. 11 issue of Business First.) Shawn told me that at the age of 36, he decided he wanted his life to be very different by the time he was 40. He didn't want to gain any weight, and, furthermore, he wanted to lose some.

He took up fitness, and then discovered a love for running. As he told me this story of personal victory, I shifted a little in my chair, uncomfortably realizing that this was very familiar.

We talked about his fast-food habits, and, yeah, that sounded familiar, too.

I found myself empathizing with his love of McDonald's double cheeseburgers. Those glorious, cheap and cheesy burgers are something I've downed a few too many times in my lifetime -- especially since the McDonald's is so close to my house I can almost smell it. (I think that's my imagination.)

In fact, we talked about McDonald's so much that as soon as the interview was over, guess what I did? I hit the drive through. It tasted great, but the guilt wasn't worth it.

When I was writing his story, and pouring out the details of what he did, it struck me that I'm not so different from the old Shawn.

I am 36. And I, too, am beginning to stare at 40 and realize there are things that are undone in my life that do not make me very happy.

I wasn't eating very well. I wasn't exercising. I'm heavier than I want to be. And, here's the real kicker: I'm not someone I want my kids to grow up to emulate.

I turned this thought over in my mind several times as I reflected on the habits instilled in me growing up, and I also realized that I'm still watching my parents for guidance.

My mother decided about 10 years ago to simply stop eating sugar and to cut the fat in her diet. Today she is thinner than I've ever seen her, and she walks for an hour a day with a neighbor. She bowls, volunteers, sees friends and leads a full life.


One of these days, my kids are going to look at me, and, I hope, see that same great attitude that's present in my mother.

Since I interviewed Shawn, I've been walking for an hour at a time, not as religiously as I'd like, but as often as I can.

As of Jan. 1, I gave up my two nemeses: sweet tea and French fries. I miss them, but I feel a lot better now that they are off limits. (What's that smell? Can I really smell them from here?)

These steps are for me, but the change also is for my kids.

I want them to tell their friends (or, OK, future therapists) that their mother was fairly healthy -- she drank some water, she ate an apple every day, she walked. She lived a full, rich and satisfying life.

Denying myself fatty foods that I like isn't denial at all. It's embracing life's long journey and realizing that my unhealthy habits may make me miserable long before they kill me.

Watching your kids eat those unhealthy foods, just like you did, is torture. My kids like broccoli, yes, plain, steamed broccoli, and green beans, and peas.

Abby, who is 4, sometimes will eat a salad. I can order those in a restaurant almost as assuredly as French fries, and we'll all be better for it.

So, project forward with me. It's 2009, 2010, 2011. I turn 40 in 2011. What do you want to accomplish by then? What kind of lifestyle do you want? What kind of person do you want to be? Then, chart your course.

What if 2008 became the year you changed your life and finally conquered things that keep you from being the best person you can be?

I may not deny myself French fries for an entire year. But I can just about bet you that by Dec. 31, 2008, I'm going to be healthier, even if I sneak a fry every once in a while. Once you've decided you're sick and tired of being sick and tired, there's no where to go but up.