In celebration of it being Men’s Health Week and Men’s Cancer Awareness Month , Michael Hernandez, 24 Foundation of Charlotte rider, graciously shared his story about his road of transformation from quitting his unhealthy smoking habit to leading an active, healthy lifestyle.
My name is Michael C. Hernandez – and this is my story – the beginning of my story.
One year, four months ago and some change, I was kicking some old habits and embarking on some new ones. You see, if you had met me before the summer of 2011, you knew me as the Michael who was 27 years into a pack-and-a-half a day of Marlboros and more recently, a 5cans-a-day Coca-Cola addict. A self-professed “couch potato,” I was literally growing sprouts through the cushions. I was a die-hard sideline spectator who watched everyone around me set goals, achieve goals and pain and gain their way to success.
Back in those days, my wife was my alarm clock. A religious 4:30 a.m. “arise to shine” runner. I’d be there to greet her when she got home, coffee waiting…cheerleader chant, “Great job honey, I’m really proud of you.” Same story with my friends, most of whom I met at church on Sundays in the parking lot before 11 a.m. I had to get in my last cigarette before the hour-long service. That was until I figured out that church lot niceties don’t go real far once people get to know you well. “Hey Smokey Smokerson. When are you going to trade in those sticks for something worth wasting time on?”
I met this guy at church who seemed to have it all figured out. He worked hard, played hard and pedaled all the time. David Faulkner is a cyclist and the captain for Charlotte’s Team Reeb. We became friends. The rest is somewhat history. This was not quite the beginning of my story, but certainly the makings of a good prelude. Thirty pounds too heavy, in April 2011, I starting following the weight loss plan that David had been using and I began to shed some of my own skin. It was more than weight loss though. There was something about the diligence of the plan that transformed me a little. I began thinking more and more about quitting smoking. “Let me prove to myself I can do this. Let me lose 30 lbs. Then I’ll quit smoking.”
The diet plan I was on really wasn’t so bad. Well, except the fact that I had to eat a lot of slow-burn carbs and let me tell you something, if you don’t know what’s on the list of slow carbs, I’ve got one word for you: beans. Black beans, lima beans, pinto beans. You get the gist. There are only so many ways you can cook beans. I knew that if I was going to turn this slow burn into some quick weight loss I was going to have to get moving. In May, I bought my first official pair of running shoes from TrySports when I was with my wife who was purchasing probably her 55th pair of running shoes. Nonetheless, I left TrySports Blakeney with a new pair of Mizunos and a level of confidence I’d not felt in years. “I can do this. Let’s get going.”
On July 31, 2011, at precisely 11:45 p.m., a 30-pounds-lighter-self who had walked probably 100-plus miles on those Mizunos, extinguished my old life with the hard twist of my rubber sole on the last cigarette I ever smoked. Then I cut the rest of a full pack in half and threw them in the trash. Sixty days later, I bought my first road bike. Sixty-one days later, I rode my bike for the first time. Three-hundred-and-sixty-one days later, I rode in my first bike event.
My name is Michael C. Hernandez and this is my beginning. I used to be an overweight smoker. I chose to make a change. I got by with a little help from my friends. I’ve met a lot of great cheerleaders along my journey. My son has a new hero. My wife got a new workout partner. My view of life got a whole lot clearer. My faith has grown by leaps and bounds. I’ve sent my baggage on a one-way flight to “That Was Then.”
THIS IS NOW +++
I am a TrySports ambassador. Not because I’m real good. Because I’m really passionate. I’m a work in progress, and that suits me just fine. This is just the beginning. Everything else is the past. I’m creating my own story and have found the power to write my own ending. So keep an eye out for me. You won’t find me in the church parking lot smoking one more cigarette before the 11 a.m. service. These days, I’m more likely to be found pressing up to doors of the church just in time for the service after a Sunday morning group ride with my TrySports friends. Life is all about new beginnings. So…let’s get going.