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Fat to Fit: The Start

Oregon Ridge Ultimate 2011

My Oregon Ridge Ultimate friends in 2011 – 230 lbs

I am sometimes known as a forward thinker. At Blue Ocean Ideas I’m tasked with helping our clients see a different future and develop the strategy to get there.

As much as I love to look forward, looking back is often the best fuel for creating the strategy and moving forward. Looking back gives perspective on where you are today and how you got here. Sometimes that’s a great story. Sometimes it hurts when you realize you aren’t where you want to be.

But good or bad, painful or pleasurable, looking back gives the context for reality today:  where I am and how I get here.

When I look back on getting more fit I can pick out dozens of events along the way that helped me change. Two of the big ones I’ve written about: gallbladder surgery & watching the ironman while I was recovering.

There is one event that stands out in the midst of the others. I was cruising on Facebook on March 14, 2011 and I saw  friend of mine, Tronster Hartley,  post something that caught my attention:

The Invitation

The invitation to start

Moments matter. Even the seemingly trivial moments. The trivial ones matter much more over time than the “biggies”. If you are an NFL football player and win a Superbowl that’s a huge accomplishment. But how you act day to day is the creator of who you are and how you got there. The Superbowl is the reward for years of work.

So in this moment I was captured by a Facebook post and whisper of a thought flashed through my mind: that looks like fun; I can do that.

So I went and played Ultimate on March 15, 2011. I’d never played ultimate in any kind of organized way before. I didn’t know the rules. It rained. I was fat and slow and couldn’t keep up with anyone else on the field. I didn’t know a single person (Tronster didn’t play that night).


ultimate 8-9-11

Midway through 2011: my start lead to playing ultimate as often as I could

My heartbeat felt 10x faster than ever before. I was thoroughly exhausted afterwards. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t walk the next day.

I had started something. I had no idea at the time just how big a deal starting that little something would be. Starting that little something would shape another something that would eventually lead to running more and then marathons and cycling and then riding in events and a triathlon and 85 lbs of weight loss that has left me much more fit.

Being owned by Tim in the early days

Being owned by Tim in the early days

The start is EVERYTHING when it comes to change. Every day is a start, every activity is a start. Every thing I do is a start. It’s a start toward something or away from something. There are no neutral days.

The famous Scottish mountaineer, W.H. Murray, spoke about the importance of the start before a mountaineering exhibition:

“… but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money— booked a sailing to Bombay.

“This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

The BOLD TEXT above is my emphasis added. You should add it also. Burn it in your brain.

Begin it. Don’t wait:


And after you start:

Keep moving forward,


Written by

I am the CEO of Blue Ocean Ideas, a creative agency in Baltimore, Maryland. My job is to clarify the strategy and take care of my team. I am married to the beautiful Elise Rittler and we have four great kids. When I’m not at Blue Ocean Ideas or with my family I am riding a bike, running, playing ultimate frisbee, eating, or sleeping. There is a little more about me here.

One Response to “Fat to Fit: The Start”

By Ken DeVault - 26 March 2013

Greg – thanks for the encouragement and sharing your experience. I particularly appreciate the words of W.H. Murray. Keep up the good work. Now, send me your email address.

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