I don’t write this post for the Happy Birthday comments. Instead, I’m going to ramble a bit about turning the big four zero and what it really means to me. Turning 40 is, apparently, a big deal with a lot of people. Kinda like when you turn 13, 18, 21, and so on. At 13 you’re officially a teenager. At 18 you can vote. At 21 you can drink legally. What do you get at 40? Besides a dose of reality and tacky birthday cards?

I guess it’s not much of a coincidence that I just heard on the TV that by the age of 40 we could look like a road map of pain. I resemble that statement. Over the last 20 years I’ve treated my body like a virtual amusement park. It might be a better description to say that I treated it like I was on the roller coaster to hell and it was a one-way trip. Binge eating, little to no exercise except when I was forced to by the military, steadily rising body fat, weight, and blood pressure. Shortness of breath at even the slightest amount of exertion and so on. A wonderful recipe for somebody wanting to push daisies at an early age.

Today I turned 40 and, like many people my age, reality has set in. It actually set in a while ago but turning 40 just reinforces it. Aches and pains aren’t going away, I’m not in very good shape, my diet is terrible, I’m overweight, and I’m on the exact road that my dad was on when he had his first heart attack at 45. That puts into into perspective. I had to change.

I’ve known this for a while which is why I started this blog back in 2008. I’ve made attempts at cycling to lose weight and get healthy. I’ve had some success but have always failed to make it a lifetime commitment. A life changing commitment. The times I’ve failed weren’t without lessons though as I’ve learned many things along the way. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I can’t make this commitment without going all in in all aspects of my life be it nutrition, exercise, rest, family, or whatever.

I set some very specific goals this year and aim to carry them out. I see them as a stepping stone to completely altering my body, life and soul during this 40th year. I didn’t want this year to turn out just like every other year I’ve made commitments to get into better shape. It goes OK for a while then things slowly go back to the way they were – no exercise, bad diet, and so on. This year is going to be different.

That’s why I set the goals I did back in January and committed to making this the year. The year I got on the bike early, stayed on it all year, and reaped the rewards. The year I got off my fat butt and completed that first century, raised money for a charity, and get out there with the groups on Saturday (as soon as I get a little more fitness).

Over the last 1.5 months I’ve seen some great improvements in my cycling and health. My pace is slowly creeping up, I’ve seen numbers on the scale that I thought had been deleted, and I’m feeling better. My clothes are fitting better. I’m eating better everyday but can still tighten up in the diet area. I’ve tried very hard to get more sleep every night but it’s hard to break old habits where I got by on 4 or 5 hours (or less) a night. Getting more sleep means much less xbox in the evening or none at all. Which is hard for me because it’s kind of my outlet at the end of the day (and a way to escape the insanity of living with four women and two female cats). Overall it’s been a good 1.5 months of change for the better in order to get ready for this day. I didn’t want to lose out on the first 1.5 months of the year and wait to start all this when I turned 40. With January and most of February behind me, I’ve established a good base to launch myself into the rest of the year.

I have a lot of people who read this blog for support in their own weight loss and fitness goals. Thank you. If I could leave you with one piece of advice, it would be this. Don’t wait. Don’t wait for a big milestone to kick start your journey towards a better, healthier life. If you’re struggling to make it happen, examine your life, focus on what needs to be changed, set some realistic goals, talk with your spouse or significant other to get their support, and get help if you need it whether in the form of a training partner, coach, or mentor.

Let me leave you with a short story. This weekend my wife and girls headed down to visit her sister about 1.5 hours south of where we live. On Sunday morning my wife needed to go out to the store and came upon a group of cyclists who were taking a rest at the local supermarket. She described them as a group of cool guys out for their Sunday morning ride. One had a Wheaties jersey while another had Livestrong jersey (she could easily recognize those two). She talked to them and their ages ranged from early 30s to a guy who was around 60. She texted me all this and I told her that was cool. Then I told her I hope I’m still riding at the age of 60.

I really feel like I threw away the last 20 years of my life when it comes to my body and physical accomplishments. I don’t want the next 20 years to be the same. I want them to be better than the last 20. And you should too. Make the change. I did.

PhotoC: kathybragg