It’s been well over 30 years in the health and wellbeing industry for me, and I have to say I have pretty much loved every day of it. There have been some challenges, some frustrations, some poor choices, some direction changes and some uncertainty, but I have loved the journey, nevertheless. As I reflect on my time, and what I have learned in the process of helping people reach higher levels of wellbeing, there is one thing I know for sure. That is this; no matter what you put in your mouth, do for exercise or change with your lifestyle, optimal wellbeing is not possible if you don’t love yourself.
After everything I have learned about eating, exercise, and all the other physical elements of getting into shape, and what I have observed about people who are living wonderful lives of optimal wellbeing and those who are not, I now know for a fact that it is an inside job. I have seen far too many people, including yours truly, thinking they could eat and exercise their way to acceptance, validation and self-worth. I was a crazy over-trainer and extreme eater, worried that if I missed a training session, or put even the smallest piece of indulgence-type food into my body, it would show, I would ruin all my hard work and not be admired. I ate super clean, I trained regularly, and you would look at me and say, ‘That guy is super healthy.’ You may think twice, however, if you knew what was happening in my head and consequently in my body.
In my head were doubts about how I looked and concern that I would not be admired. In my body was fear, stress and anxiety that was wreaking havoc on my immune system, my DNA and the other hormones and physiological processes in my body. Let me tell you this, and I want you to hear it loud and clear; no amount of salad, vegetables, steamed fish or chicken can compensate for self-loathing, and, the stress, anxiety, fear and resentment it causes. So, are you ready for my prescription for optimal wellbeing and joyful longevity? Here it is; feed yourself love and actively move towards self-worth.
The way we eat and what we put into our bodies is often a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. The extreme way I was eating, was a reflection of my insecurity and need to be admired. In my recent podcast conversation, ‘Building a positive relationship with food,’ with Craig Harper, he talks about his young years as ‘a fat kid.’ He describes how, even though he knew he shouldn’t be eating it, he would consume three meat pies, because, and I quote, ‘It would make me feel f#@&ing amazing for 20 minutes of the day.’ He then when on to say, ‘for the other 1420 minutes of that day, I felt ashamed.’ Why did Craig eat the three pies? It was self-loathing. The only way he could get any comfort to ease his turmoil was in that instantaneous moment of gastronomic pleasure.
I would ask you to assess, not the food you eat, but the inner voice that moves you to the choices you make. It is a firm belief of mine that all food is good. Of course, some we should eat more of and some we should eat less of. But, make no mistake about it, the food is not responsible for the results you experience in your life, it’s the feeling that moves you to eat the food that will determine your level of wellbeing and the quality of your life. Three meat pies did not chase Craig down the street, back him into a corner, hold him down and force their way into his mouth. He chose to eat them, to help ease his feelings of self-loathing. Craig is now in a very different place in his life and eats in a wonderfully balanced fashion, which includes some indulgence. He does it naturally and normally, because he has learned to love himself.
I have moved from my extreme way of eating to a far more enjoyable and balanced approach, which definitely includes, chocolate, alcohol and all the good stuff. Why am I in a better place with my eating? Because I love me! It has taken time, it’s been challenging, but I can honestly say, I love and value myself and I am worth looking after.
Right now, as you are reading this, I would ask you to monitor your self-talk. What are you saying to you? When you ask yourself how you feel about yourself, what is your answer to you? This is the place to start if you want to live a life of joy, wellbeing and longevity. Feed yourself positive words, audios, blogs, books and feelings, and, when you do, you will start feeding yourself in a way that will fuel and fortify your body. This is a big topic that I have covered very briefly in this blog, but my message to you is that you are good enough and worthy to be loved. When you start feeling that way, you will love yourself to optimal wellbeing.
So, who really is the most important person in your life? Who is the person that holds the key to your happiness? Who is the person that can unlock your potential and take you to the success you want in life? Who is the person responsible for the state of your relationships? Who is the person to lead you to optimal wellbeing and joyful longevity? Whoever you choose, as you answered each of those questions, you had better love that person unconditionally, because you don’t want to lose them, right?
For the question about happiness, did you answer with your pet, your partner, your parents or politicians? Wrong, it’s you. For the question about unlocking potential, did you answer with your boss, your coach, Tony Robbins or God? Wrong again, it’s you. For the question about relationships, did you answer with your partner, your parents, Oprah Winfrey or Cupid? Wrong again, it’s you. For the question about optimal wellbeing, did you answer with your personal trainer, your gym owner, Arnie or the person who makes the muscle bulking meal replacement? Wrong again, it’s you.
You already knew that, didn’t you? That being the case, if you are the person who is 100% responsible for the happiness, success, relationships and wellbeing you experience today and every day, then would you agree, you should be nicer to that person? With your consent I would like to ask a couple of tough questions. As you are still reading, I am assuming you have consented. Question one; how do you really feel about yourself? Question two; how is that working for you? Please, for the sake of your life, answer them to yourself honestly.
For much of my life, I didn’t think much of myself and consequently I strived to achieve in certain areas because I thought external success would help that self-love develop. I was skinny, I was shy and I was insecure as a child, and I believed that success as a professional athlete would help me love myself. It didn’t. As a personal trainer, I believed having an incredible body would lead me to self-appreciation. It didn’t. I thought the respect from others that came with being a published author would be followed by self-respect. It didn’t.
Even after many of the things I had aspired to and achieved, I still was left feeling sad, lonely and unfulfilled. Why is that? Simple; love, happiness, wellbeing and fulfillment are an inside job. I needed to change the paradigm I held about myself as no amount of money, achievement, recognition, success or status could compensate for a lack of self-love. After many years of self-loathing, I stopped and started exploring who I really was, at the core of my being, and I actually liked what I found. I discovered someone who had amazing potential. I discovered someone with a heart for other people. I discovered someone with a purpose to make a difference in the world. I discovered someone with a strong vision and large capacity. I discovered someone who was gloriously imperfect. I discovered someone who, whilst flawed and had made poor choices in his life, was committed to learning from experiences to grow personally and to help others. Ultimately, I discovered a pretty cool person underneath the outer casing.
As I started to like myself, I found more peace in my life. As my regard for myself grew, I found the answers to things I had been struggling with my whole life. In the process of being more embracing of myself, my abilities, my potential and even my flaws, I have got to the place I can honestly tell you that, right now, I love me. Wow, what a difference it makes, in everything! I am healthier, happier and more energised. I am clearer on my purpose than ever before. I am more courageous and less worried about other people’s opinions. I am attracting more great people and opportunities into my life. I feel settled within myself and not needing to chase external recognition and validation.
Are you ready to fall in love with yourself? I hope so, because nothing great will happen in your life until you do. As a great mentor of mine once said, you can’t hate yourself into a better life. Can I suggest you start today to change your paradigm and discover the things about yourself you like, you are proud of, you are good at, and the things you are aspiring to and striving to improve. You are pretty amazing, right? This week’s podcast, Shift your paradigm, change your life, by Alaina Schwartz will help enormously. It is my hope that one word, one compliment, one self-recognition and one day at a time you will get to the point you can say… I love me!
We live in a global fishbowl these days, don’t we? With the internet and the many social media platforms, it’s hard to avoid other people’s opinions about the world, current situations and you! The moment you post a blog, a quote, an activity or a picture, you will get people’s reactions and opinions, whether you like them, want them or not. No matter what opinions you get from other people, even those you care about, just know that the only opinion about you that matters, is your own.
If you read last week’s blog, you will know I had a little mishap last Friday. During my regular Friday box-jump session, I slipped and fell, gashing my shin on the sharp edge of the steel outdoor table I was jumping onto. I found myself in emergency, getting x-rayed and then receiving five stitches in my shin to patch up the mess. After posting about it and referring to it in my blog, I was incredibly touched and grateful for the volume of messages, calls and care-packages I received from many wonderful people.
As you will know, if you read my blogs and post about the event, I felt very positive about the whole situation. It was amazing how little pain I experienced and how good the leg felt all week, so, as this Friday approached, I decided I need to get straight back up on that horse and keep the tradition of ‘box-jump Friday’ going. One week after my fall, feeling amazing, still with stitches in my shin, I went and did my session of box-jumps. This time I did them with more focus and attention to great form, and I completed them easily and felt amazing afterwards.
I took a short video and decided to post it on social media, with a very simple, yet profound message; Don’t let falling be the reason why you give up. Get up, learn the lesson, modify your approach and then go again and again and again. I knew, as soon as I posted the video, I would get a variety of responses to my decision to be box-jumping again in a time that, to some, would be considered too soon. Deep down, I was even looking forward to the variety of comments I knew I would receive.
As expected, and grateful for, I got a range of comments from people who were; inspired, impressed, encouraged, caring, surprised, shocked, confused and concerned. What’s the point? It’s that, no matter what you say, write, post or do, people will have a variety of responses and opinions about it. It’s important to know that how people respond or react to the things you say and do, has less to do with you, but more to do with the beliefs and values that they hold true for themselves. In my mind, an ‘opinion’ is an inner belief that has been triggered by an external occurrence. I just came up with that and am pretty impressed with myself.
Just think about an opinion you may hold about what someone else said or did. If it’s a negative opinion, it was because their external words or actions, conflicted with a value and/or triggered an internal belief you hold. Right? That being the case, you will never get everyone to like you, agree with you or accept what you do, because we all have different internal beliefs and values. Therefore, there is only one opinion that matters in your life, and that is yours. As for me, I am proud of myself. I am pumped that, at my age, I am able to box-jump. I am excited about my resilience and willingness to bounce back after a serious fall. What other people think about me, is none of my business.
In my podcast this week, called ‘Embrace your uniqueness,’ I speak with the amazing Natalie Matthews. She is the Founder and CEO of Height of Fashion, a fabulous fashion brand for tall women. She is six feet, three inches tall, loves wearing high heels and is not ashamed or embarrassed to tower above most people, or, worry about what they think about her. Her belief in herself and her self-confidence is inspiring. She is passionate about helping people love themselves, no matter their uniqueness, and, only worry about they think about themselves.
Worrying about what other people think about us is stressful, unhealthy, exhausting and a total waste of your time, ability and potential. You, and only you, know what is right for you. So, trust yourself, believe in your strength, embrace your individuality and do things that help you fulfill your purpose and live your best life, no matter what other people think. Remember, it only matters what you think.
I often refer to myself as the black-sheep of my family. I’m the weird one. The one that doesn’t have a job. The one that has always illogically followed his intuition and made spontaneous decisions to act. The one who has never been attracted to or compelled to follow the norms of society to get the degree, the job, the house and just settle for a life that isn’t incredibly joy-filled and purpose-driven. I have followed my path and it has led me to exactly where I want to be, and this week, I want to encourage you to do the same.
Now, don’t get me wrong, it is not an easy path, nor is it always clear and straight, but it’s the one that has led me to my joy and purpose in life. From a young age, I have never wanted normal, I have always been driven to do what few people are willing to do. The process I needed to follow to play professional sport, be optimally healthy, write books and create a business from home has met with lots of resistance from other people, and, though I hate to say it, my own limiting beliefs.
There is such a strong magnetic pull to stay in our own status quo and stay doing things that are accepted by society, the people whose opinions we care about most and our own self-belief, that it can be very difficult to break free. There are two paths you can choose from; the one less travelled and the one most travelled. Before you choose your path, be very clear on the direction it is leading and the destination it will take you. Then, be strong and courageous enough to decide whether that is where you want to be in life, or not, because once on the path, the destination is predictable, whether you like it or not.
I have never been one to stay on a path that was not going to lead me to joy. I was a teacher for a few short years and got out knowing in my heart that it was not my path. I worked in a gym for less than six months before realising that it was not taking me to my purpose. I lasted fifteen years as a personal training and got to the top of the ladder when I realised it was leaning against the wrong wall. It wasn’t until I made the illogical and courageous decision to write a book, with no time, no experience, no qualification and limited ability, that I accidentally found my path. It actually wasn’t accidental at all, it was in my gut, and I listened. Are you listening to your gut?
The question you need to ask is, do you want pleasing methods or pleasing results? If you want pleasing methods – in other words, be comfortable on a well-worn path – you will have to accept the results you get in life, based on where the path leads. If you are motivated by pleasing results, you may need to carve your own path or take the road less travelled to get there. It will be uncomfortable, inconvenient, full of obstacles, create doubt and bring you into contact with many people who will try to discourage you, but if you keep going, it will lead you to joy, fulfillment and purpose.
Get clear on how you want to live, rather than what you think you should do. Imagine a life full of that joy. What does it look like? Can you describe it clearly? Imagine how it feels when you wake in that life, and spend each day doing the things that bring joy, happiness, fulfillment and purpose. Who is there? What are you doing? How are you feeling? Where are you living? How are you living? This is your destination, not anyone else’s. Don’t let anyone else place their opinions, expectations, judgments, fears and insecurities and influence that will lead you away from your own path. Are you getting what I am saying here?
In my podcast this week, I talk with the wonderful Sara Picken-Brown, who has followed her amazing path to lead her to the joy she is living today. It’s called Find your joy, and is very much worth listening to. You are amazing. You have incredible strength and courage. You have the capacity and ability to be the black-sheep of your family. In other words, you can choose to push against the masses, reject what is expected of you and accepted by others, take the road less travelled and follow your own path. Enjoy the amazing adventure and joy as you do.
Do you want to be healthy, happy, prosperous, passionate and purposeful? Is that the dumbest question you’ve ever heard? Of course you do, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. I had the pleasure of an amazing conversation with Brad McEwan, well-known Australian media personality, on my podcast this week, and, as he has transitioned from sports reporting and news-reading to the mental health space, his message to me was loud and clear. That message… kindness matters.
He told many stories and shared how kindness can help improve your mental health, your happiness and the clarity of your purpose. The immediate physiological impact of this, is a healthier body, mind and heart. He told a powerful story about two conflicting experiences in the same day, one with a selfish driver on the road, which increased his stress and anger levels, and another with the kindness he showed to two strangers walking past his home. I’m not going to tell you the story, you will have to listen to the podcast, Kindness Matters, if you want to hear it from the mouth of Brad. What I will tell you is that the act of kindness will long live in his mind and heart, and the incident on the road will be forgotten immediately.
With this week’s blog in mind, I did a little social experiment on Facebook. I asked people, who were open to it, to commit a random act of kindness and then share, what they did, how it was received and how they felt as a result. There were many responses. If you were one of them and are reading this, I want to thank you again for your willingness to act in kindness and then share about it. There was the lady who bought a tram driver a coffee, a lady who paid for an elderly man’s scripts at the pharmacy and another lady who gave cookies to a widower at the bus stop. There were people who gifted services and pre-paid coffees for people at cafés and many more wonderous acts of kindness. In every situation the person receiving the act was surprised, grateful and happy.
As nice as it was for the receiver, the power is really for the giver of kindness. Each person stated how wonderfully warm and satisfied they felt after acting in kindness, even if, as in the case of the pre-paid coffees or the lady who gave a coffee to the tram driver, they didn’t hang around to see the response. In fact, the lady who gave the coffee to the tram driver said; ‘How did he react? I don’t know. I left before he realised. How did it make me feel: great! It was a good ‘pick me up’ at a time I was feeling a bit blah!’ This is powerful.
So, my week of kindness was an interesting one. I gave a copy of one of my books and some time to help someone financially struggling. Her response helped me feel amazing. I offered to do something for a new friend, that seemed insignificant to me, yet she responded with tears of gratitude. I felt wonderful. I met up for a meal with an old friend I bumped into the week before, but hadn’t seen for many decades, and I paid for her dinner. She was quite resistant at the start, but as I insisted, she was really grateful. I felt warm inside.
Then, as I was walking home during the week, in kindness-mode, I was approached by a teenager. As he walked towards me, I thought, ‘Great, here’s another opportunity for kindness.’ It was outside a convenience store, and he said to me, ‘Excuse me, could I ask a favour?’ I was ready to say yes, when he continued, ‘I am only seventeen, could you go into the store and buy a packet of cigarettes for me?’ Okay, that stopped me in my tracks. My mind was racing. Do I say yes, because it’s being nice, or is it kinder to say no? I have seen my heavily smoking mother die of cancer and I am a passionate non-smoking advocate, so, whilst I’m sure this young man did not appreciate my kindness, I said to him, ‘You seem like a really nice guy. I have seen the negative effects of smoking and I can’t, in good conscience, buy your cigarettes. The best thing I can say to you is, no. You are worthy of a long, healthy life.’ And, with that I walked away.
Now, do I for a moment think he cared about what I thought? Not really. I am sure the next person he asked, actually bought him cigarettes, but do you know what? I felt great that I had been kind to him. Not in a way he recognises now, but one which hopefully he will appreciate one day. I want to encourage you to spend this next week in kindness-mode and, as you do, notice how other people respond, but more than anything, notice how it makes you feel inside. Enjoy the power of kindness this week.
I have been writing these blogs for about fifteen years now. So, every week for that entire time I have posted my blog, and I have not missed a week in all that time. I don’t get paid for my blogs, I don’t know how many people read them and, to be honest, there have been many times when I have questioned why I invest time every week to write and post my blogs. Do you know what the answer to that particular question is for me, and why I keep writing? Because, I want you to feel like, no matter what’s happening in your life, you’re not alone.
That’s it! I mean, why else? I want to help people, that’s my thing. I really want you to know that you are good enough, deserve abundance, are loved and that a life of joyful longevity is available for you. Wow, I do sound like I am Mr Altruistic, don’t I? Don’t get me wrong, I do it as much for me as I do it for you. I get an enormous amount of pleasure and satisfaction knowing that each week, even one person, is being impacted by my words. There is something very special about feeling like you are not alone, I hope you get that feeling with these words that I am writing.
What gets me through challenging times is the knowledge that I am not alone. Knowing that other people are experiencing what I am experiencing and that there is always someone I can reach out to, keeps me moving forward and feeling optimistic, even in the darkest of times. I have incredible peace and joy in my faith that God is always there for me. I am grateful for my Dad, who would do anything for me and be anywhere I needed him to be, at the drop of a hat. I am loving that there are people in my life I can reach out to and know they are there for me. I am truly not alone, and neither are you.
What I realised a long time ago, is that my own current thinking will never get me where I want to be in life, If I want more from life, that is. How do I know? Well, there was a time in my life, I was working my brains out, for many years, and going further and further into debt. I couldn’t understand why, I thought hard work was the answer. The problem was that I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Irrespective of the brute force I was bludgeoning away at my life with, nothing changed, because my current thinking had taken me as far as it could take me. I can tell you, at that time in my life, I felt, discouraged, disillusioned, depleted and desperately alone. It wasn’t until I reached out to other people who were living the type of life I wanted, and who were willing to walk with me, that things rapidly started to change.
I see people, far too often, making the same mistake I made, which is, when things are not going as they want, they retreat into solitude, thinking the answer will come to them. Don’t get me wrong, alone time is important, however, to gain the answers you do not have, you need other people. Those people, by the way, are there to help you, if you just reach out and ask, or at least are willing to accept their offer to help. In my recent podcast with Patrick Bonello, one of the things he talks about, which has helped him most in the recent challenges of COVID-19, is the feeling of support that he has in the small community in which he lives. He never feels alone and so, in return, he is there for others. My conversation with him is incredibly inspiring. Click here to listen to this podcast.
My friend, as I finish up blog number ‘twenty-five squillion,’ I have no idea how many people will read it. If you are reading this, I am very grateful. More than anything, I want you to know, you are not alone. Whilst we may not know each other, I hope my words can be of some comfort and inspiration for you as you negotiate life to create your own happiness and success. For my own selfish satisfaction, please send me a message to let me know that you feel loved, supported and important. That would truly make my week. You are most definitely, not alone in this world. Know it, believe and enjoy it.