February 23rd, 2010
05:27 PM ET

Keep fighting despite the losses

By Dean Hanan
CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge Participant

A few months ago, before I ventured onto CNN.com’s Fit Nation Web site and got myself into this amazing triathlon training experience, I woke up and ran into the kitchen, prepared some coffee and went outside on the balcony to smoke a cigarette. That had become my morning ritual after September 11, 2001.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/02/23/dean.jpg caption="CNN Fit Nation Challenge participant Dean Hanan."]
I stared at the Coney Island beach and remembered how I used to run the beach when I was a lifeguard. How easy it was to effortlessly run a mile in seven minutes. And how I used to swim, gliding through the water like a seal.

Being in shape seemed so easy back then. But then you experience life. You suffer setbacks, you lose a relationship, a friend, a job, or money becomes tight. Sometimes it’s a major loss. For me it was losing my aunt at age 8, moving to Florida during my senior year of high school to care for my sick grandparents, losing friends, and almost losing the love of my life on September 11, 2001 when, as a New Yorker, and an American, our hearts were broken.

We all suffer setbacks. Some of us eat a little more, drink a little more, smoke cigarettes or worse. Sometimes we let others down. The hard part is to break down the walls of feeling guilty. Guilt is not what we are supposed to learn from our flaws or mistakes. Life molds us. We can take the good from it and move forward or we can focus on the negative and keep it in us to paralyze us from moving forward. My mom and dad always said obstacles are the things that help us realize how strong we don’t know we really are. They were right. We all suffer setbacks. We all lose jobs, money, loved ones, and things we care about. We all go through the good times and the bad times.

But it’s not about how many times life kicks you down to the ground into the dirt. It’s about having enough guts to turn around, look life back in the face, and tell yourself you are worth it! I cannot give up! I will always fight! No matter how much it may hurt or scare you. No matter how many people think they know you and what you are made of! It’s about getting back up off the floor, dusting yourself off and looking into your own eyes in the mirror and making a decision that we are all capable of: To never give up! To take that small amount of spirit left in your body and to realize that after everything you have gone through…YOU ARE STILL HERE!

You are not alone! You ARE still here! Go get ’em!

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.