Life is a Marathon: I will lift up my eyes unto the hills

Originally posted June 2012 on LDSFitnessNetwork.com

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“I will lift up my eyes unto the hills”

(Pslams 121:1)

I should preface this article a bit. I feel as though I am an open person. I’ve shared myself for the past couple of years through the blogosphere and what it’s taken to get where I am today. It hasn’t been easy sharing so much about myself, but I am of the belief that my story is meant to be shared with others. This means the good, the bad and the difficult to discuss. This story is very personal to me, but it’s a story that is important in telling my weight-loss journey. 

When I was 13 years old the Bountiful LDS Temple was dedicated. The temple’s dedication had been a tremendously blessing to the community and my family. I will remember the temple dedication as our family was ushered into the Celestial Room as President Howard W. Hunter dedicated the building to the Lord and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir filled the halls of the Temple with music. As a 13 year old boy this spiritual experience was one that was difficult for me to process and understand. I just knew that this was a special experience for everyone there.

Throughout the rest of my teenage years and up until the present the Temple has been a beacon to the community. At night it is hard to miss the illuminated building perched upon the foothills of Bountiful. It can be seen from almost anywhere from the community. It really was and still is quite a heavenly majestic building.

In my early 20′s I would visit the temple very often. My friend and I would find ourselves there nearly every Saturday. No, we weren’t there to perform the many sacred ordinances for the dead or to seek and gain inspiration from within it’s walls. We simply sat in our car eating hamburgers and fries talking about everything besides the temple. The temple simply served as a backdrop to our fast-food meal.

Sadly over those years the importance of the temple diminished in my life. My infrequent visits within the temple became even more far and few between. I really saw no value in maintaining an active Temple recommend and my activity stopped. It was around this time that I started gaining most of my weight. Not only was I not being active in my temple and church worship, but I simply wasn’t be an active participant in life. Truthfully, the weight was simply a byproduct of how I felt about myself. I was depressed inside and out.

Many people who knew me throughout these years probably had no idea what my true feelings were. I put on quite a good facade. My self-deprecating sense of humor served me well for a number of years. I was in this perpetual viscous cycle with my weight and self-esteem that I seemed to be unable to break. I simply wasn’t being the person I knew that I was inside and wanted to be.

As I slowly made these realizations I made changes bit by bit. I started watching what I ate, how I felt about myself and gain more confidence in my abilities. Additionally, I started running and since then I haven’t stopped running. Running has been a saving grace for me.

Whenever I feel up, down, frustrated, happy, reluctant, anxious, upset, insecure, reflective, excited, positive, competitive, energetic, zealous, melancholy, heartbroken, negative and even a bit crazy … I want to run. If I’m feeling down it makes me feel up and if I’m feeling good it makes me feel great! Running has been there for me on my greatest and lowest of days.

When my Mom was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year the first thing I did was run. That run was therapeutic, it cleared my mind and I could have kept going. A couple years earlier if I was faced with that news I probably would have turned to food to deal with the feelings. Running has saved me.

As I ran more, my runs took me around Bountiful. I soon found myself running past the Bountiful Temple. Sometimes my daily running routes would take me past the Temple a couple of times. I loved running past it while I enjoyed it’s beauty, whether it was by the natural light from a sunrise or a sunset or by the spot lights at night. It was always an inspiring moment.

Running gave me an outlet to help manage my emotions and it helped me heal from past frustrations and disappointments. One evening as I went out for my run I wasn’t in the mood to run. Mentally, I honestly didn’t want to be anywhere. I just felt a void. But, I knew that if I still did my run that eventually I’d feel better. I learned this early on in my weight-loss journey.

That evening as I ran the streets of Bountiful I took my run past the Bountiful Temple. It was twilight and the spotlights of the temple were shining on the building. Feeling dejected and frustrated I couldn’t help but keep my eyes on the beauty of the Temple. While in that moment as I ran past the building this peace rushed over me and the words came to my mind, “Stop running past and go inside.”

The moment was as powerful as when I came to the realization that I needed a change over two years ago. That realization took me on my weight-loss journey. I knew with those prompted words I needed to finish my journey. This 175lbs. weight-loss journey wasn’t about simply losing the weight it was about much, much more. It was a journey of happiness that I was on. It was a return happiness. It just took me longer to realize.

Following those promptings … I returned. I took those initial steps that reminded me of hoping onto a spiritual treadmill of sorts. Soon I was training for my first 5K. Like any runner the first three miles is always the hardest. But, like I learned from my running you take it step by step, mile by mile. I knew that I could do it because I knew where the finish line ended.

Within time I made amends with myself and God and through the loving guidance of my bishop I was deemed worthy to enter back into the House of the Lord. It’s quite a humbling experience to be handed that recommend and realize you can stop running past. You can actually go inside. Can you guess what I did right after my recommend interview with the Stake President? I ran.

On the morning of my return to the temple I set out to run 15 miles around town. This route would take me past the temple numerous times. Some close up while some a far off, but each that much sweeter because I knew I didn’t need to run past to enjoy it’s serenity.

As I ran past the temple that morning I gazed upon the eastern sunrise shining upon the Angel Moroni as the temple stood so majestically upon the mountain side. As I reflected upon my journey towards the temple the scripture came to me:

“I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.

“My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.”

(Psalms 121:1-2)

In that moment I realized fully that this journey I begun years ago was leading me here all along.

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