January 1, 2020 marks five years. Five years to the day since I decided to get serious about my health and wellness.

There wasn’t some huge health scare; there wasn’t an ultimatum from a loved one and there was no one forcing me to do anything. For me, the difference was I thought, what was in my control and what did I want to change in my life

My re-occurring thought was, one day I want to have a family with kids. When this day comes, I want to be a role model for my kids and want to be able to play with them outside and not be out of breath. Also I had a keen understanding that I have always struggled with my own weight, how was this time going to be different?

I knew that through lifestyle change I could be healthier. As I have learned, often times when we decide to take on radical life-altering changes we chunk them together. As I thought about it more, I realized I had a couple of more motivators to prioritize my health:  I was starting a new career at the UVM Medical Center and getting married the following year.

The next part and arguably the hardest part: Where to begin? When I graduated from college, I purchased a gym membership and I was sporadic at my attendance over the years. For me, traditional physical activity had not worked.

I realized quickly that I needed to grow my confidence by concentrating on the things that I could see myself doing to workout. As a life-long Vermonter, some of my favorite memories included the outdoors – particularly as a child when I lived on a 10-acre horse farm in Northern Vermont. A key ingredient to my success is being outdoors.

Winter in Vermont can present a challenge to many. I knew that I could still honor my commitment to outdoor physical activity even if I was starting in winter. For me, this meant snowshoeing on long brisk mornings and afternoons. Eventually, as they do, thankfully, the seasons in Vermont changed.

Greg Lamoy hiking with his wife, Tracy.

My love for snowshoeing morphed into regular, frequent hiking. In fact, during 2015, I logged 215 hiking miles. Hiking has become my favorite activity – it truly engages my mind, body, and soul. Being in nature, alone with your thoughts, while you are working up a sweat has been transformative for my entire well-being.

It is important to note that everyone’s situation is different and by no means was it just hiking that allowed me to become healthier. It was a combination of eating more mindfully, eating less, being curious about what could be, and my ongoing daily commitment to a lifestyle change that I choose.

My ask of you is this: “What are your ingredients? What are those key motivators that will prompt action in your own life?”  My challenge to you is to put your self-care first in 2020.

Grey Lamoy is an Employee Wellness Health Coach at the University of Vermont Medical Center.

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