One year. That’s 12 months, or 365 days, or 8,760 hours, or 525,600 minutes. If I ask you now, how you count a year, that exact breakdown might have been your initial answer or, you could have gone with an answer from a hit Broadway Musical song. To those who answered the latter: don’t be surprised if I burst out singing it with you.
The question is common and easy enough to answer because to give a definite and quantifiable measurement of what makes up our days is a default setting for us. It’s a thing we do every day, mindlessly and automatically. We count the hours to the end of a shift, the coins in our pocket for our daily commute, the kilometers we did on a run, the reps and sets we finished in an hour at the gym, and the list goes on and on.
But what would you answer if I came up to you and asked: “how did you make it count?” And the number of people who can answer in a split-second, dwindles. The question will hover in your head for a bit, and you’ll prod your brilliant mind for answers for a good minute, or two. When nothing comes to, don’t fret.
“I chose to live a better lifestyle for myself so I can be a better cyclist and father.”
It will naturally take a while to answer because it certainly is a tougher inquisition. But then again, the universe likes its occasional surprises every now and then, and over burgers one night in July, there it came: a quick answer to the supposed difficult question of: “how did you make the year you’ve been given count?”
“I chose to live a better lifestyle for myself so I can be a better cyclist and father.” He tells me with a smile quite like and unlike the smile, he had the day I met him in March of 2016 at a cycling event in Baguio. Back then, he was a 220-pound, 6-foot tower of smiles and happy-go-lucky laughs that I couldn’t manage to muster last year as my legs burned through pedaling 30- to 45-degree assaults on the Ambuklao highway.
Now, after 365+ days of not seeing him, I find him feasting on a plate of deep-fried bacon, still standing proudly at 6 feet and 2 inches tall, still happily smiling like he has no care in the world, but now with a fulfilled aura added to it and weighs in at only 170 pounds.
He chuckles and goes on to tell me how it took only one tipping point, and the small nudge of a friend who inspired him to take on a 365-day ketogenic diet journey which he determinedly obliged, and the frustrations of the previous year were slowly forgotten, only to be fondly recalled just to see how far he’s come from then.
See also: 30 Day Keto Diet Challenge
By that, I was a muddle of questions—equal parts perplexed and fascinated;
What was he saying? He was doing quite fine on that ride.
What was this tipping point that was so powerful that it got my friend to trade in his old lifestyle for a new and better one, as he tells it?
To give me some added perspective, he goes and retells the story of those two days of riding Ambuklao and Halsema, saying how much he huffed and puffed with exhaustion as we did the climbs and even had to stop and ride in the SAG vehicles for a while. And while I found no shame in this as a beginner, Marco was ridden with disappointment in himself by the end of it. And little did I know, it didn’t just begin with the Fondo in March, but with something else he also wasn’t able to accomplish that year.
“I wanted to join a bike race before that ride but told myself that I may be too fat, or too slow for the said event. The ride up Ambuklao and Halsema solidified my misgivings. I told myself something had to change. I needed to do something about it, instead of complaining.”
He says that at the time of the climb in March, he had already been a month into the ketogenic dieting. With the hardest part always being the start of that uphill climb, in the beginning, Marco had a few bumps and misses. An accidental excess intake of sugar here, succumbing to one teaspoon of sugar in his coffee there, was very hard to shake off.
But spoken like a true cyclist, he tells that he just kept going and powering through the challenges, stuck to what he loved doing the most, and true enough, the results slowly started to manifest themselves from just an improvement on general well-being at first, to actual weight-loss and toning later on.
Biking to and from work was the routine. Pedaling mile after mile and careful to reward himself with treats that were well within the restrictions of the diet he adopted. Chore became routine, the routine became a lifestyle, and the rest was history.
With the new light, he shed came admiration at his resilience and I look with a new-found respect towards my friend for his discipline and grit to pursue his higher purpose. At the end of all the stories and progress photos shared, I was left quietly contemplating one other question lurking at the back of my mind. He finishes his second plate of deep-fried bacon, and coaxes the question out of my head: where did you find the strength to stick to it?
And he laughs at me, as if the answer to the question was so elementary, I’d have been silly to not be able to guess it. He starts with; “I just looked at my old pictures and asked myself; ‘do I really want to go back to that?’” and continues, “It’s all really just for my son. I want to be stronger for my kids. My kids are still young now, but when they grow up, I want to be stronger for them and be a good example of taking care of their health.”
That was how my friend chose to make his 365 days of 2017 count, and continue to make it count, as he still lives by the diet he started over a year ago. He chose to make the days and the hours count by choosing to be a better person not just on the bike, but at home. Minute by minute, he consciously chose to improve his lifestyle so he can become a stronger person, a faster athlete and an ideal role model to his children.
February of 2018, Marco Sadsad, 33 years old, Corporate Professional on most days, Cyclist always at heart, retook Halsema and Ambuklao. No more huffing and puffing. And absolutely no need of SAG rescue vehicles.
2018 is nearing its close with August almost done. The last stretch of the year will be a quick one, with the blurry rush of holiday preparations. You’ll go to bed and wake up the next morning shocked that it’s already 2019.
How did you make this year count?
How are you going to make next year count?