TCC Recovery

A Tale of Fitness From the 2017 Natural High 5k & Fitness Festival


A picture of the awards ceremony from the Natural High 5K, Matt Cline (far right) wrote the following as his personal journey to that moment.

If you would have told me 2 years ago while volunteering for the Natural High 5K, that I would be running in it this year, I would have never believed you.  So… how did I get here?

It all started January 2016.  At this point in my life, I was extremely unhealthy tipping the scales at nearly 400 pounds.  I had more health issues than I let anyone know.  I was having frequent chest pains, circulatory issues, shortness of breath, high blood pressure, blood sugar issues.  I knew that if I didn’t change my life, there would be no life.

In January 2016, I set out to change my life by simply beginning to pray for strength to regain a healthy lifestyle.  I came across Romans 12:2 – “Be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  That scripture became the foundation of everything that I have done over the last 18 months.  I began to understand that it just wasn’t a mouth problem that I had, it was a mental problem.  I began to see that I wasn’t feeding my mind correctly, and my mouth was just following my mind.  I self-medicated myself with food.  Food is how I dealt with stress, anxiety, anger, and depression.  Not only was I neglecting my physical health, I was also neglecting my mental health as well.


The first step that I began to do was to start keeping a log of everything that was going into my mouth.  It didn’t matter what it was, if it hit my mouth, I wrote it down.  I began to record the calories of everything that I was taking in.  I was in total shock when I began to realize how many calories I was taking in each day.  My daily average was right around 6000, with some days taking in 8600 calories.  I recorded for 90 days. During this time, I didn’t try to get on some crazy diet or try to starve myself.  I simply became conscious of my intake.  By making myself conscious, I slowly began cutting down on my portions.  By the time that I hit that 90-day mark, I was already 30 pounds down.  Again, at this point, I didn’t hit the gym or get on some super strict diet.  I just simply woke myself up to the reality of the unhealthy lifestyle that I was currently living.  Those first 90 days were so crucial to my success today.  I still am extremely conscious of what I eat.  I don’t physically write it down anymore; however, I can probably tell you what I have had for every meal through the entire month of June.

I didn’t begin to exercise until the end of March. March 28th to be exact.  This is when I took my first walk, which was about a tenth of a mile, and I was worn out!  My sugar was dropping, my legs felt funny.  I remember praying, “God, help me to get back to my car.”  Even though it wasn’t easy at first, I kept at it, and gradually built up stamina to walk a little further each week.  Walking became my outlet.  It was how I worked through the stress of each day.  I simply walked it out.  By mid-summer, I was up to over 5 miles that I could walk.  I was also consistently losing 10 pounds a month.  Along with physical exercise, I also began to exercise my brain as well.  I started inventorying what kind of things I allowed to go into my mind and began to cut out idleness and work on learning something new each week by reading.  I learned that if I feed my mind correctly, my mouth will follow.

August 28th, 2016, I began to run.  Starting out, I only ran a couple days a week.  I would slowly add a little distance every couple of weeks.  Running became something that I really enjoyed.  In January, I set a “5K by May” goal.  I completed that goal 2 months early by running in the St. Patrick’s Day 5K in March.  I finished that race in 34:32.  Since I completed that goal early, I then set a goal to run the Natural High 5K in June and to finish that race in 30 minutes or less.  The first time that I went out and ran that course, it took me a little over 38 minutes.  I had my work cut out for me if I was going to complete that goal.

For training, I ran the course about 5 or 6 times leading up to the 5K.  My best time was 34:30.  4 and a half minutes over the goal that I set.  I told myself race day, that I was just going to do the best I can, and leave it all on the course, and that is exactly what I did.  I knew my pace was good when I started off.  My feet were soaked by the time I reached the quarter mile mark.  I felt like a kid playing in the mud, and it was fun!  During the run, I began to think of how far I have come in just a year and a half.  I had a lot of emotion that I was running with.  I knew I had a decent pace, and felt like I was going to beat my 34:30 time, but I had no idea by how much.  As I hit the last straight stretch, I could see the clock at the start finish line.  I couldn’t tell if it said 28 or 38 at that point.  As I got closer, it became more clear as the clock just turned to 29 minutes.  I crossed the finish line in 29:23.  It was an extremely emotional moment.  I actually went to the score table to make sure that the time was correct.  Receiving a medal for being the second fastest in my age group wasn’t necessarily a goal, but it was a nice perk.  Finding out that I finished 10th place overall, and was the oldest person in the top 10 was a pretty nice perk too.Matt Cline B&A

I completed the goal that I had set.  I don’t know if you can find anyone more grateful for health and life than I am.  I feel like I have a whole new life. I am able to do things that I have never done before.  I work daily to keep myself healthy spiritually, mentally, and physically.  Don’t allow life to pass you by due to an unhealthy lifestyle.  A healthy life is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

Goals are worth setting, and dreams are worth dreaming.

Matt  Cline
Director of Recovery Support Services
The Counseling Center,  Inc

A word from the Natural High 5K & Fitness Festival Chairperson, Melissa Whitt:

The 9th Annual Natural High 5k and Fitness Festival took place on Saturday, June 24th at Earl Thomas Conley Riverside Park.  This year’s event saw 52 runners compete in the 5k run/walk, with Reece Brown winning the overall male runner and Briana Tudor winning overall female runner.  Fitness Festival activities this year included Iron Body Fitness Boot Camp, SOMC Cardio Drumming, and Yoga by the River with Melissa Davis.

The Natural High is a fundraiser for the Summer Outreach Club, a summer day camp for area kids ages 5-12.  This year’s event raised $4,300.72, with 11 sponsors, 41 volunteers, and 10 in-kind community sponsors.  The Natural High committee members and Community Relations and Development staff would like to thank all the sponsors, participants, and volunteers for all their support and making this year a huge success.

To read more about the Natural High 5K & Fitness Festival check out the following articles from the Portsmouth Daily Times:
TCC to Hold Fitness Festival
Fitness Festival Recap

The full list of times and winners can be found at Tri-State Racer. 

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