I often get clients asking how I manage to be so healthy, but what they don’t see however is the journey I have been through to get me to where I am now. I thought I would share this with you today because my journey has taught me so much and I have seen so many of our clients go through similar experiences on their road to achieving better health.
I left school like many a west of Scotland boy, my dreams of being a pro footballer unfulfilled I discovered beer, fast food and night clubs. But thankfully my wee mum filled in a form and I was going to college to study health and fitness (something I will be forever grateful to her for!)
So here I was studying fitness, and I thought ‘I better get myself fit’. But it was proving much harder than I imagined it would. I would set myself targets to not eat as much junk food and cut back on the beers. But every Thursday would roll round and I would end up caving in and having beer followed by chips and cheese, and it went even further downhill from there as the weekend progressed. Looking back now I can see quite clearly why I was failing so badly. The biggest problem was my goal; I had set myself the target of getting a six pack and a buff beach body. But anybody that knows me will know there are two flaws in that goal. Flaw one I am not an aesthetically driven person ( I barely look in the mirror before I leave the house) so looking great did not motivate me enough to make the commitment to change and the second flaw was the I am one hairy dude so no one was ever going to see this ‘buff body’ anyway! So there was no real level of accountability in my goal.
Another major factor in my lack of success was my lack of real knowledge on exercise and nutrition, I was eating what I though was a healthy diet, but it wasn’t working for me and I didn’t know how to design an exercise plan that got results.
However a major shift in my results came about when I found some goals that really resonated with me. I realised I wanted to be a good role model, I wanted to practise what I preached and I also set myself some performance type goals (triathlons and marathons).So from my early to late twenties I trained hard and my diet evolved gradually from a diet full of junk to one filled with good quality nutrition and in good balance. The key point here is evolved. From working with hundreds of clients for the past 16 years I have realised that the key to success for most people lies in making gradual changes to your diet.
If you told me 10 years ago my diet would consist of mostly vegetables and fish I would never have believed you. I couldn’t imagine life without bread, sugar and chips. However my palate has gradually changed the more I have exposed it to these foods and I can honestly say I do not miss the junk food in the slightest. Alongside this my attitudes and beliefs around food have also changed dramatically. I now associate junk food with feeling rubbish so this makes it much easier to say no. Also I look at food as something that will help fuel everything I want to do in my life. If I want to be a good dad who is full of energy, run my own business and have enough energy left for my hobbies I know for sure that I need to get my diet right most of the time.
The next big learning curve for me came when I turned 30 when I had a health scare that meant I couldn’t exercise for around 6 months. This made me look at other areas of health, I got interested in yoga, relaxation techniques, I looked at the impact sleep and stress has on our health and my goals then shifted towards being able to live an active life well into my 80’or 90’s. What was even more interesting was that in the process of learning more about achieving better health as I age I started to attract clients who wanted the same things They wanted to have enough energy to see their kids and grandkids grow up and more importantly be healthy enough to get involved with whatever they throw at them, they wanted to continue to play their golf or tennis, and their focus had now shifted towards being healthy. I can’t tell you how much I value these clients as nothing is more rewarding than knowning you are contributing towards helping some greatly improve the life they will be able to lead as they get older.
My latest part of my journey has been shaped by becoming a dad,. What a game changer that can be! Being a dad has allowed me to step into the shoes of many of my clients who are parents. The lack of sleep over the first year and a bit of Dominic’s life I experienced really impacted on how and what I ate and how much exercise I got done. For the first time in years I was getting regular cravings for sugary and fatty foods, and I won’t lie to you I did give in to these sometimes as I my body was needing a quick hit of energy to get through the slumps that I was experiencing. On the exercise front, because of the earlier health scare I think I took a different approach to what I think I would have I would have if I had not had the scare. I listened to my body more and trained when I felt I could and rested when I felt tired. I dialled down the intensity of the training and just looked to keep some movement in my life to keep me healthy.
So here I am a 35 year old teetotaller, who eats healthy foods about 90% of the time and Dominic is now sleeping through the night so I will start to get back into my exercise again. I never will be the fittest guy in the gym but I do intend to be the guy who is still running in the trails in my 90’s hopefully with my family alongside me and hopefully finally having nailed how to stay on a surf board for more than 30 seconds!
PS. here are my key lessons I have learned from my journey. I hope you can take some of them into your life as well.
- Never take your health for granted and do everything within your control to ensure you keep it for as long as you can
- Don’t take an all or nothing approach. Changes normally happen in layers. Try to avoid the extremes of going from being a slob to being super healthy in one jump. Gradually make changes. They are much more likely to stick this way
- Nutrition, stress, sleep and exercise are the four pillars every health and fitness plan should be built on. If one of these are out of sync you will never truly achieve great health
- Set a goal that really means something to you. Write it down and look at regularly
- Listen to your body, don’t try to overrule, aim get to know it well and listen to the messages you are continually get it from it.