On owning my midlife crisis

April 11 2016

I have been a bit chubby most of my life. As a young adult I wasn't too obese, but once I met my wife the weight just seemed to pile on. She is a great cook. I was also what you would describe as extremely lazy.

In 2008, at the age of 32, I became a father. It is a cliché I know, but becoming a father really changes everything. The best way to explain that shift is that before my son, my life centered around me. Sure, there were people in my life I loved above everything else in the world. But ultimately I was still at the center of my own life. And once I became a father, that little guy became the center of my life. I was bumped to a supporting role, and his future became more important than mine.

Then in 2012, my father died. The cause was health related, although it was not something directly applicable to me. It still got me thinking about my own mortality. I had not felt ready to lose my father. When would my son lose his? How much of his life would I get to see?

At this point, I weighed 131 kilos (288 pounds). I had felt the weight weighing me down for years already. My last physical showed some troubling liver values related to obesity. I was eating antacid for heartburn. Tying my shoes was a strain, drying my feet after a shower even more so. And playing with my kid was exhausting.

I started worrying about my own health, and decided I had to do something. So when January 2013 came around I started a gym membership. Small sessions of treadmill jogging and machine exercises two times a week.

During the next 18 months I went from no dietary changes (exercise alone did nothing on the scale) through keeping a food diary (choosing healthier alternatives resulted in losing 1 kilo a month) to a 1000 calorie a day deficit (losing 1 kilo a week). My wonderful wife joined me for the last part.

The spring of 2014 a friend of mine convinced me to sign up for a local series of outdoor running races. I never thought I had a competitive streak, but I was hooked from the first run! That summer I finished my first 10k at 1:07:57 and my weight leveled out around 96 kilos (211 pounds).

When the fall came I booked a personal trainer to learn proper weight training. Forcing myself out the door to go to the gym was no longer a problem. After three days without exercise, I would become restless. The habit was built! During that winter I kept running through hail and snow.

My next 10k run (the Midnight Sun Maraton in the city of Tromsø where I live) the summer of 2015 ended at 50:32! And in the fall I participated in my first half marathon (21 km / 13 miles) and finished at 2:09:48.

I have truly turned my life completely around, and I own my midlife crisis. It is mine, and I am proud of it. Many people have asked me where I found the motivation. What got me out of the sofa when it was dark and rainy outside? And the answer will always be the same.

It was all for my son.

Håvard Pedersen
[email protected]
Tromsø, Norway

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