Thinking about making some health and fitness improvements in 2017? Take a page out of Christian Fyke's playbook. Fyke is a registered runner - and a generous sponsor - of THE ALLEGHENY 9 RACE SERIES 10K in North Park on February 4. But this time last year he could hardly imagine himself on that roster.
At 43, Fyke had been feeling tired, wasn't sleeping well, had some nagging health issues. His motivation to get into shape came from a chance meeting with a college friend who had lost significant weight and looked healthier. "I asked how he got started," said Fyke, of Monroeville. His friend, who became a runner, said he simply started walking.
"His words were powerful to me." Fyke knew that running would be a challenge but he could tackle walking. So one day last February he headed to Monroeville Park and started.
Walking was a far cry from the kind of fitness Fyke had done in the past. "I was always busy with team activities: basketball, volleyball, tennis, racquetball. My friends and I would get together six or seven times a week and play sports and work up a sweat," Fyke said.
But like so many others, once Fyke married Lisa and their three children came along, finding time for fitness was increasingly difficult, not to mention the challenging demands of his work as co-owner of the popular Rivertowne Brewing group of four restaurants and a brewery. The family business is celebrating its 10
th anniversary. But the idea of walking intrigued him. "I was encouraged that walking made starting a fitness program very approachable. It was easy to handle."
Despite being busy, Fyke didn't let time constraints be an excuse. "I used to think that I needed a two-hour window. That was a stumbling block I used to use. Of course I like it when I have more time, but at the beginning, if I had a half-hour to go for a walk, I'd just go, just as I was dressed." He'd fit a walk in first thing in the morning, in the middle of the afternoon or whenever he got home from work. He tried to do something every day and using a phone app and Fitbit to measure his success helped his goal-oriented nature. "I loved those days when I was up over 20,000 [steps]".
He also improved his nutrition, not an easy task given the delicious foods and craft beers that tempt him at work. He cut down on sweets and carbs and eliminated soft drinks and diet soft drinks. "I mostly drink water, occasionally beer and wine. I'm not cutting out the beer!" he said.
When the weather was bad he headed to the gym where he used the treadmill and stationary bike. He noticed patrons wearing headphones and it struck him that he "had let music leave my life." So he hooked up to a streaming music service and gets motivated by listening to everything from electric dance music to rap to beat including artists like Drake, Dave Matthews and Frank Sinatra, among many others.
It worked! In less than a year, Fyke transformed himself. He lost 70 pounds and has become a runner. "I just kept walking til I felt I could run." He started feeling better, eliminating frequent gout flare-ups and chest pains. Soon, his clothing was loose. "My pants wouldn't stay on! That was a landmark moment."
But one of the most rewarding consequences by far has been his increased engagement with the world around him. "I used to pass on activities that I would have liked to do with my kids because I didn't feel like I could handle them anymore. I'd pass on bike rides with my family because I feared I couldn't keep up. That was horrible," he said.
He has participated in some 5Ks, selected because they benefit causes that are meaningful to him, which is also the case with The Allegheny 9. Fyke is a big supporter of public parks and brought some of his staff - on their days off - to Boyce Park this fall to plant trees. The race series takes place in all 9 County Parks over the course of 13 months and is designed to bring runners to parks they may never visited before. It also raises funds for major improvement projects. For more information, or to sign up, click here: THE ALLEGHENY 9