"Whether you believe you can or believe you can't, you're probably right."
—Henry Ford

To start a fire, you need three things. First, you need fuel. Dry wood is a typical source, but other things work. Second, you need oxygen, because in order for the chemical reaction to propagate, the hydrocarbons in the fuel need a readily available supply of oxygen atoms to combine with to produce CO2 and H2O and heat as its products. Third, you need an initial heat source or that spark to start the whole process along its course.

Now, it may be a little too close to home to talk about fire, what with the current state-of-emergency situation in the midwestern/southwestern part of the country, but that (in a roundabout way) got me thinking about what got me started running again. With a little prompting over the last few days from several people who have asked me what got me started and why I started the blog, I wanted to elaborate on what got my own fire burning.

For a long time, Ellie wasn't able to get me to exercise with her at all. I lacked motivation, I lacked the drive required to make a change. Simply put, I didn't have the ingredients needed to start my fire.

A Mike Bard–Built Fire on the Beach in Cape Cod

My Fuel

I was steadily gaining weight, building up my discontent and unhappiness. Over time, I got more and more frustrated with myself because I really wanted to get healthy, but for whatever reason I still wasn't motivated enough to actually do it. It quietly increased the pressure, building a large supply of fuel off of which I've been feeding ever since.

My Oxygen

In order to maintain my fitness drive, I knew I needed some way to hold myself accountable. I needed some way to propagate the reaction. This is where this blog comes in. Reporting each and every weekday and posting my progress each Wednesday has been an enormous support system that has helped keep me going. I truly believe that weight-loss systems with a community behind them—and really any other support system, be it to quit smoking, to recover from alcoholism, or to recover from gambling addictions, for example—are incredibly valuable and should be a mandatory part of any plan.

My Spark

This is the most difficult requirement to put my finger on. I've thought quite a lot about what finally pushed me over the edge. Finally, I think I've decided that it wasn't a single thing but a combination of events tightly packed together that provided enough heat to finally push me to get going.

The exact events are a little cloudy as it was almost a year ago, but there are a couple of things that I distinctly remember. The first was when I finally got to the point in my frustration with my weight that I was actively looking for motivation. I got to my heaviest level ever, and that really did upset me. Second, one day I talked with my brother Mike, and he recommended I read Born to Run. I'm not going to jam that book down your throat, but if you are looking for motivation, read it. Third, I bought into the Vibram fad. I was looking for something different, and honestly running in them is fun. Finally, I was getting sick of my gaming routine of playing for many hours every night. It was making me feel like crap in general, and I think Ellie was getting pretty tired of it. Between all of these things, it was just enough to start that initial slow burn, which has been going ever since.

I opened this post with a quote that I find to be incredibly true. I always believed I could, it was just a matter of getting all the ingredients together first. Think about what you have together . . .  are you lacking anything? If you are on the edge, perhaps identifying what you are missing might be just enough to light your fire.

I'd love to hear why you guys started exercising or what you feel like you are missing. Leave a comment!