5 years later: How my job got me fit (and changed my life)

I’ve let a few anniversaries pass this blog by, including Lissie’s 12- and 13-month milestones (they’re coming, I promise).

But here’s one I don’t want to miss: FIVE YEARS since I started running.

This picture was taken on the day that I started running the Couch to 5K program.

This picture was taken on the day that I started running the Couch to 5K program.

I started running five years ago, on Aug. 25, 2010. I was 25 years old, had just moved into the first house I had bought that summer, and had been married for just about a year.

And I was ready for a change.

This was my second year working for Sun Media Group in Lewiston, and I knew that our company fitness program, “Step into Fall” was about to start. I participated the year before, but things were hectic then, as we had just come out of a huge product launch that summer, and then I was planning my wedding in the fall.

(By the way, in preparation for my wedding, I did try to diet and lose weight. And I did — I lost about 20 pounds in the 7 months between the proposal and the event by skipping meals and walking 60 to 90 minutes every day. No surprise, I gained almost all of it back by the time I started the Couch to 5K a year later.)

So here is how Step into Fall worked:

  • Everyone on the company’s health insurance program can participate — that includes family members of employees.
  • You self-organize into teams, and the team with the highest average point per member wins.
  • The basic premise is you earn points by recording when you exercise each week. High intensity activities (like running) earn three times the points that low intensity activities (like walking) earn.
  • You earn bonus points as an individual for things like:
    • Competing in an athletic event (like a 5K)
    • Attending a company lunch and learn
  • You earn bonus points as a team for things like:
    • Exercising together
    • Having team members from different departments
    • Having team members who work different shifts (e.g. day and night)
    • Having a manager on your team
    • Having a family member on your team

All you really got for winning was bragging rights. But being the competitive person I am, bragging rights meant a lot to me, and I saw that this might actually be an athletic competition I could have a chance at winning.

So I started the couch to 5K that fall knowing that sticking with the program would “count” for something. And I found out that I absolutely LOVED running.

I turned into the kind of crazy person who would go to a conference and get up at 5 a.m. to finish a 8 mile run.

And I turned into the kind of crazy person who would go to a conference and get up at 5 a.m. to finish a 8 mile run instead of going out drinking the night before. Don’t you see the love, here?

For the record, I never ever did end up winning that contest, any year. Competition for the employees most dedicated to fitness is fierce over there in Lewiston.

I wrote a bit about that program in May of last year when I spoke to a group of HR directors who run programs like this in their workplace. You can go back to that post, “You don’t have to be perfect to be a role model,” to read all the reasons why I think programs like these work. (As an aside, I think that post pretty much sums up my philosophy to this blog.)

Basically, it comes to this: Every time I tried to change my lifestyle alone, I failed. The time it worked? I had my friends and co-workers to support me in my journey.

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Pattie Reaves

About Pattie Reaves

I'm a new mom and renegade fitness blogger at After the Couch. I live in Brewer with my husband, Tony, our daughter Felicity, and our two pugs, Georgia and Scoop.