I’m into fitness, take 20: From the Windy City

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Missouri coach Frank Haith and I in Chicago. Before the weight loss, I wouldn't have had the confidence to engage a famous coach in conversation, at least not since I left newspapers. Then, it was a job.

I’ve discussed several benefits of weight loss and fitness in previous blogs, including looking better and feeling better. Often, there are benefits I’ve never considered. That was the case this week during my trip to Chicago.

In the Windy City on business, I still managed to get a run and plenty of walking in. On Thursday morning, I crawled out of bed at 5:15 a.m. (about as easy as resisting deep dish pizza while in town, which I scarfed down like a ravenous dog) and jogged to Lake Shore Drive through the darkness of the city streets.

In and of itself, running through Chicago is a treat. The contrast between the hustle and bustle of downtown during the day to the near silence of pre-dawn Chicago is remarkable.

The best part of my six-mile run – other than burning about 1,000 calories – was jogging along the lake front. I hit the lake about 15 minutes before sunrise. About halfway into the run, the sun slowly rose above the horizon, a beautiful sight and one most of us either rarely see or simply take for granted.

Running along the lake front was one of the highlights of my trip. What a beautiful view.

The city was waking up on my way back to the hotel, but much of my last mile was alongside the river that snakes through Chicago. Another beautiful sight the folks there probably take for granted.

I also spent much of my off time Thursday and Friday walking around the city, taking multiple photos of amazing architecture, unique shops and buildings and people being people. I didn’t track how much I walked, but it was several miles.

Not until now, when I’m 35,000 feet above the ground, does it occur to me that none of the above would have happened a few years ago. Sure, I could walk, but not far and I sure as hell wouldn’t have been up at 5:15 in the morning to run.

Moments like these are one of the many reasons I started working out again. They make all the sweat – and there’s a ridiculous amount of that – and even the pain (shin splints, plantar fasciitis and a bruised heel) worth it.

I’ve also written about confidence many times. It’s truly awesome how much better you feel about yourself when you improve your health.

In one day in Chicago, I ran on the lake front, had deep dish pizza and hit Club English to hang out with Frank Haith, Phil Pressey, James Franklin and Dave Steckel. The only negative? Kim English wasn't there. I mean, come on. Kim English ... Club English?

Thursday afternoon, I discovered on Twitter that a Missouri caravan was in Chicago later that evening. Seriously, what are the odds that I’d be in Chicago at the same time as Frank Haith, James Franklin, Phil Pressey and Dave Steckel?

In the past, I probably wouldn’t have gone anyway. Why? Confidence. I immediately would have thought about my appearance and how shy I would be around “celebrities,” even though I spent much of my career covering folks like that in newspapers.

But I never once thought I wasn’t going to that caravan on Thursday. I was one of the first people there, and one of the last to leave. Because I felt good about myself, because I had the confidence, I did just fine, chatting up Tiger fans I’ve never met, a coach who’s essentially become a legend in Missouri in a year and arguably the best returning point guard in college basketball.

Above all, getting in shape is about your health. It’s about living longer, being stronger. But it’s also about quality of life. When you begin to do things you’ve never done …. There are simply no words to describe how great that feels.

And, as I’ve said from day one, if I can do it, anybody can.

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