Two years later


Nov. 15, 2011 / Nov. 20, 2013.

On this day two years ago, I stepped into the gym for the first time and began my first phase of training.

It feels daunting to try and encapsulate the last two years in a blog post, especially since I’ve sort of already done that. But, I will share this:

I was recently interviewed for a radio show. (The episode will air at the end of January.) The host asked me to describe one or two moments that have shaped me in terms of my faith, and I included my health and fitness journey as part of my answer.

“I thought [my weight loss] journey would initially just be like, ‘Oh, I’m gonna lose some weight–it probably won’t be that big of a deal,’ but it kind of ended up being a very big deal,” I said.

“It pretty much led to me rethinking every aspect of my life–not just the food I’m putting into my mouth and how much I’m moving on a daily basis, but what are the things I believe about myself, and why do I believe those things? What do I believe about God and why do I believe those things? Are those things true, or have I been believing lies for the last couple years? What do I want for my life? What do I think God wants for my life?”

I’m in a much better place than I was two years ago, and while the physical transformation is startling, it pales in comparison to the mental and spiritual transformation that’s also taken place over the last 731 days.

As I wrote in August, I feel powerful and confident, and for the first time in a long, long time, I’m proud of myself and actually feel good about being me.

*   *   *


June 2011.

I’ve neglected this blog over the last few months, and that’s because in some ways, I’ve been neglecting my health. Since mid-September, I haven’t been as diligent with my nutrition and exercise routine as I maybe would like. A lot of old habits, thoughts and feelings have resurfaced, and I’ve been struggling.

As far as I’ve come in the last two years, in my weaker moments, I still want things to be easy. I still want results without having to make sacrifices and do the work. I still want someone to do it for me (as if that’s even possible). I still put things off until tomorrow. I still feel sorry for myself. I still worry too much about the number on the scale. I still hustle for my worth and care too much about what other people think.

But what’s nice about the past two years is that I’ve found out what I’m capable of, which is a lot more than I ever could have imagined. I know that if I make a plan and commit to it, I can achieve great things.

I’ve also reached a level of self-acceptance that makes changing so much easier than it was in the beginning.

“You can’t make that sort of change by hating yourself or hating your body,” I said during the radio interview, referring to my weight loss.

“You can’t look in the mirror and be like, ‘I’m disgusting’ and be angry. I think at first you have to have some acceptance that, OK, I’m not necessarily where I want to be, but ultimately, I care about myself … so I want to take better care of myself because I think, ultimately, it will lead to a better life. So you kind of have to start from there. You can’t start with anger, hate and shame directed toward yourself, because I think that will just … feed the problem, if anything.”


October 2013.

I’m in the process of dialling in my nutrition and exercise routine for the final weeks of 2013. The year is almost over and the holidays often make for tricky (read: unhealthy) eating situations, but I want to push myself to make healthy choices so that I can be at my best.

I’ve achieved a lot over the last two years and I’m curious to see what more I can accomplish in the years to come.

If you had told me two years ago that you never really arrive at complete fitness–you have to train for life, and there’s always something more to achieve if you want to go for it–I would have been discouraged.

Today, the thought excites me.

*   *   *

A few weeks ago I was reminded of “Inside Job,” one of my all-time favourite Pearl Jam songs. Mike McCready, one of the band’s guitarists, wrote it.

“I’d been thinking about some stuff for a year or two and searching for kind of a spiritual answer to whatever maladies were in my life,” McCready told when the album came out. “I realized that I had to go inside myself first before I could be open to outside ideas. And that’s kind of what the premise was.”

The song has really been speaking to me lately, so here it is:

Underneath this smile lies everything / All my hopes and anger, pride and shame / Make myself a pact not to shut doors on the past / Just for today I am free / I will not lose my faith / It’s an inside job today / I know this one thing well / I used to try to kill love, it was the highest sin / Breathing insecurity out and in / Searching hope, I’m shown the way to run straight / Pursuing the greater way for all human light / How I choose to feel is how I am / How I choose to feel is how I am / I will not lose my faith / It’s an inside job today / Holding on, the light of the night / On my knees to rise and fix my broken soul / Again / Let me run into the rain / To be a human light again / Let me run into the rain / To shine a human light today / Oh, life comes from within your heart and desire / Oh, life comes from within my heart and desire / Oh, life comes from within your heart and desire.

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7 Responses to Two years later

  1. Paul says:

    Keep it up, Aaron!

  2. Lois says:

    Keep in mind that you are inspiring others when you share. You’ve inspired me more than once in the short time i’ve known you! and as for worth – my goodness – you have SO MUCH to offer all of us – in your smile, your writing and writing talents, your courage, and just you being you. Carry forth!

    • Thank you, Lois! You have inspired me as well. I’m working on an article series for Canadian Mennonite influenced in part by reading your testimony. I’m glad we get to work together.

  3. Jackie says:

    You’ve gone through one incredible journey, Aaron. Amazed by your perseverance, and touched by your perspective on physical transformation and spirituality. Hope your story inspires many!

  4. Pingback: Aaron on the airwaves | Aaron at Large

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