Monday, April 22, 2013

Back in Philadelphia - 5 years later and 150 pounds lighter

The last time I lived in Philadelphia, I gained 75 pounds. This time around, I hope to lose 75. I know it's going to take a whole succession of healthy decisions every step of the way to make that happen. But that's okay, because I'm all about living MyFitLife2Day (and every day)!

When I left Philadelphia for sunnier shores five years ago, I weighed somewhere around 420 pounds. And I was miserable. A year later, I began a new phase of my life, which I fondly refer to as my fit-life journey. My fit-life journey includes choosing clean, organic, whole foods over processed foods and exercising regularly - including lifting weights, biking and hiking. Plus, remaining positive and patient throughout the process has allowed me to dramatically change not only my physical dimensions but it has also permanently altered my state of consciousness. As a result, I'm happier than I've ever been. And now that I'm back in Philadelphia, I'm ready to begin next chapter of my fit-life much closer to home.

Brian in Philadelphia, 2008, addicted to fast foods - always delivered!
South Florida was a great place to shed the excess weight, because I was able to exercise outdoors year round. Then, being exposed to the hills of New England while living outside Boston ignited in me a healthy passion for hiking. I followed that passion out west - to Albuquerque and then to Palm Springs. And while I was beginning to feel I would never again be able to find happiness without having access to those massive mountains and endless miles of trails in my backyard, I've realized now that life is about more than the individual pursuit of happiness.

For me, happiness is about being able to share my life and my passions with those I love - my family and my friends. Since I was raised in the Mid-Atlantic, went to college in Pennsylvania and summered on the Jersey Shore, Philadelphia is at the heart of it all. Being here, I feel I've found a central spot, a place that allows me to be myself while giving me a greater sense of being at home.

While you won't find Philadelphia on any lists as a great hiking mecca, there is hiking here. Most locals aren't even aware there's any hiking nearby, but there is an amazing park system here - the largest urban park system in the United States. And the jewel of Fairmount is a 7.5-mile gorge carved by a fish-stocked creek called the Wissahickon. I went exploring in the Wissahickon as soon as I got here a little over a week ago, and I've started blogging about it on my hiking blog, HikeyHikey.

Brian on a recent hike along the Wissahickon Gorge Orange Trail
I hope to find an apartment near the Wissahickon Valley Park, possibly in Roxborough, Chestnut Hill or Germantown, so I can hike here several times a week. I will be joining a gym so I can continue swimming and lifting weights regularly, too. Also, I'm on the lookout for local establishments with grab-and-go foods that feature organic, all-natural ingredients. This way, I'll be able to fuel my healthy lifestyle even when I'm not able to cook and pack my meals and snacks in advance. So far, I haven't found any, but I've been told they're out there, so I'll continue my search and report back any findings.

Well, I'm off to take my pups for a walk. They're loving that we've adopted a pedestrian lifestyle here in Philadelphia - and so do I. It's the healthiest thing for all of us! Tomorrow I'm planning to go for another hike in the Wissahickon. And later this week, once I get my bike fixed, I'll be heading out to explore some of the Schuylkill River Trail, a paved trail that follows the Schuylkill River north well into the suburbs.