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This young lawyer got his priorities straight. You won’t believe what happened to him next.

First, I sincerely apologize for the clickbait title to this post but, in my case, it is kind of fitting.

To tell my story, I need to start back in late November. The Anne Arundel Bar Association was hosting one of its regular charity pub quiz events, and we were halfway through the first part of the quiz when my phone started buzzing. As a strict adherer to pub quiz rules, I avoided the urge to grab my phone so as not to be seen as a cheater. But it kept buzzing. Text messages, then phone calls. When the round was finally over, I grabbed my phone to see several missed calls and messages from my sister.

Ten years ago, this would not have caused any concern. But a late night phone call from one of my sisters these days means one thing to me: Dad. In February 2006, I received a call that my father had suffered a severe stroke that nearly ended his life. Since then, he has battled back to regain his speech and the ability to walk, but every day is a constant struggle for him. Normally, calls and texts from my sisters are innocuous: checking to see how I’m doing, confirming plans for family gatherings, seeing what my son wants for Christmas. But I still get that nauseous feeling in my gut every time they call.

Unfortunately, on this night back in November, the calls and texts confirmed my fears: Dad was in the emergency room.

I quietly told my colleague what happened and I rushed over to Anne Arundel Medical Center. My father’s problem turned out to be non-life-threatening but nonetheless was serious. Although it wasn’t my first visit to the emergency room with my father, that night had a uniquely profound impact on me. While sitting there, I realized that my father was the same age that I will be when my son is my current age. It made me realize more than ever how precious our time is with our families. It also provided me with the motivation I had been sorely lacking in one area of my life: my health.

Like my father, I was generally a fit kid growing up. I played lacrosse and was always active. But, also like my father, I have battled weight issues for most of my adult life. Although I was in great shape when I met my wife, over the past ten years, I slowly gained weight until I got to the point where it posed a health risk to me. Nothing seemed to motivate me to change that. Not seeing my father battle his various health issues. Not my lack of energy. Not my lack of confidence. Not even my son being born. Believe me, I had tried to lose weight before. I saw trainers and tried fad diets but I was never able to stick it out.

But something changed that night in the emergency room. Seeing my future in front of me and knowing the pain I could cause my wife and son by continuing to make poor health choices finally provided me the willpower I needed to get my health in order. Maybe it was serendipity but the very next day I was scheduled to start a new program with a local trainer, Todd Bauer, who specializes in helping people “reset” their lives. I had met with Todd to develop a program for me that combined a sustainable diet with moderate exercise. It finally worked.

A little more than two months later, I am 40 pounds lighter and in the process of replacing my entire wardrobe. I have more energy than I can ever remember having, signed up to play in a lacrosse league and I feel great. Looking back, I realize I never had my priorities straight. It never occurred to me that, in order to be the best husband, father, and lawyer I could be, I had to start with…me. If I didn’t take care of myself, how could I take care of others?

I was hesitant to share my story here, but my main motivation is that I know there are people out there who are in the same boat as me. As the years creep by, their gym visits have dwindled and the pounds have multiplied. They have every excuse in the world not to get their health in check. I had those excuses, too. Demanding hours at work? Check. Spread too thin at home? Check. No time to exercise? Check. Believe me, as young lawyers with families, there are more obstacles in our lives than ever before. But if you have an addressable health issue (like my weight problem), I suggest that you make tackling it your number one priority.

I recently discussed goal setting on Generation J.D. and mentioned one that I was in the process of accomplishing. I am happy to say that I’ve achieved my goal of getting to a healthy weight and living a healthier life. Rather than looking at all the weight I needed to lose (which would always discourage me in the past), I simply focused on the choices I could make each day to improve my health.

If anyone reading this is battling the same issues that I was, I implore you to make you a priority. It will pay dividends in all facets of your life. I am here if anyone needs support. I genuinely mean that.