Contributed by a Trak Customer
I've never been much of "healthy person". In fact, "healthy people" have always found a way to rub me just the wrong way. Whether it be Whole Foods, Kale, or their latest religion (Crossfit), I generally find health crazes and those who follow them insufferable. Now don't get me wrong, I am by no means naturally unhealthy.
Growing up I was always naturally lanky and thin. I never had a healthy appetite for food and very rarely ever ate large meals. On top of this I have always loved playing sports. I could always be found on some type of field or court. I loved running, jumping and playing whatever game I could find people to play with me. I lifted weights. I ran. I was active. Every physical and doctor checkup took about 5 minutes. I was naturally healthy.
Then, I went to college. I think we all know how this story goes. When I first started college, I (like all my fellow freshman) were given a dietary blank check in the form of a meal plan. Whatever and whenever you felt like eating, you could eat. Every meal was an all you can eat buffet. It was glorious. And even though I didn't gain much weight (thank you metabolism), I did learn the fine art of "Smashing", eating enough in one sitting to feed a small family without batting an eye. I also met a new friend that year. His name was Beer and we'd become lifelong friends.
Needless to say these habits would continue throughout my college years. Drinking would soon be joined by social smoking and I was off and running on my way to the new American Dream of an unhealthy lifestyle. The only thing that kept me somewhat healthy was being too broke or lazy to keep up the excess. All you can eat dorm buffets were replaced with McDonald's value meals and dollar store cookies. There was almost never any fruits and vegetables on my paper plate. But that wasn't worst part. The worst part was I never saw it as a problem. I didn't drink that much. I didn't smoke that much. I didn't eat that poorly. And besides, it's college right? Surely I'd grow out of it.
After college I took a desk job with my old man's company and moved into an apartment with my best friend from college. It was like college never ended. The first year or so out of school can be summed up as a late night cigarette after Taco Bell on the way home from the bar at 2 AM. It wasn't good. But still I told myself, "You're fine", "everything is fine in moderation" (a phrase I continued to loosen the meaning of). But then something else happened to me, I met a girl.
When we first started dating, I really kept all my vices in check. It's amazing what a man can eliminate when faced with the prospect of an interested woman. For almost 6 months, I was my healthy self again. There was very little in the way of smoking, drinking, or overeating. But it didn't stick. We fell in love and suddenly it didn't matter as much to her when I'd heed those unhealthy calls from my college years.
After 3 years I proposed and we were married. Now I finally would be able to settle in and live the healthy lifestyle of a married man. Nope. It was more of the same. Sure I spent less nights out at the bar and ate less fast food, but I also stopped exercising as much. I'd plant my ass at a desk for 8 hours a day then come home and instead of going out and playing tennis or going for a run, I'd opt for Netflix with the Mrs. The "College Me" was always there.
A year into our marriage we decided it was time for a baby. Although this was a naturally scary idea, I was totally on board. Finally, I would grow up and start taking better care of myself, plus the whole "lots of sex" thing. We got pregnant almost immediately (bummer on the sex thing). Nine months later, my son was born and I was his father. Me. Mr. Taco Bell Cigarette had himself a perfect, healthy, baby boy. I had graduated college, gotten married, bought a house and had a son, and none of my unhealthy vices had stopped me. So nothing really changed.
Two years later it came time for #2. We planned out exactly when we would get pregnant in order to sync up the right timing on the calendar with my wife's school year (she taught 5th grade at a local school). When the time came we began to try. First month. Nothing. Second month. Nothing. After 6 months we still had no baby. What the hell was going on? It was so easy the first time. We thought about going to get tested, but didn't even know what that even meant. Where should we go? What do we test? and most of all, how much would all that cost?! We began to feel depressed and defeated. That's when I saw Trak. An easy, at home test to measure my sperm count. Seemed like a logical first step even though I was probably fine. I mean after all, I had already proven I was totally able to make new life happen.
I'll never forget that first test. I'll spare you the step-by-step details but it ended with the two of us staring at a small blue strip with a thin orange line. My result was nowhere near it. My count wasn't even half of what it needed to be. I was crushed. I took the accompanying survey on the App and before I knew it I was actually on the verge of tears. As it turned out, I was 30 now and my unhealthy lifestyle had finally caught up with me and had done a number on my swimmers. I made a promise to my wife that night that I would cut out the crap and get that damn score up and over that line.
For the next two months I was finally determined to cut out the nonsense that was keeping me from having what I wanted and what she deserved. I thought of the 9 agonizing months she spent sacrificing her mind and body while our son was growing inside her. I thought of the 18 grueling hours she spent straining and groaning through labor as he pushed his way out. Now it was my time for sacrifice.
Cheeseburgers became Bell peppers. Cigarettes became sunflower seeds. Beer became...well, less beer (turns out some is still OK). It was good for our relationship. It was good for my body. But most of all it was good for my soul. I was able to finally find a purpose to get rid of the unhealthy garbage of my 20's.
After 2 months, we tested me again. We did the test in a rush because I was late for a flag football game so I didn't have time to stick around for the result. When the game was over I checked my phone. All that was on there was a text from her with a picture of that small blue strip with that thin orange line. Except this time, I was clear over the top with room to spare! Under the picture were the words "Whatever you're doing, it's working. Thank you. I love you"
I know what it feels like to catch a big fish, to hit a 300 yard drive or to fix the brakes on my car. But right then and there is the first time I truly felt like a MAN. Thanks for getting me back on Trak.