The “you” that you want to hide
The me you want to be
The fears you need to free to be free.
It has been four months since my open heart surgery.
I weighed in today at 177lbs., down from 195 -200 lbs that I weighed prior to the big day.
I’m doing 30 minutes of cardio exercises every day.
I am back to work.
But I’m not back to normal.
I’m actually better than normal.
My biggest challenge was getting over myself. Challenging the enemy inside, which for me was self doubt, lack of self worth, and fears.
Fear of missing out. Anger at others. Anger at myself. Regrets- hell yeah.
The things and patterns that have held me back from becoming “the better me.”
At the beginning of this journey, I was often asked how I was doing. I received countless encouragements to get better, fast. I instinctively knew that getting better fast was not what I needed or wanted.
I wanted to create a new me, a better me. I would say to those who asked me how I was doing, I am doing ” a bit better everyday, ”which is true because change is incremental, not sudden. Change takes dedication and effort. Part of my journey has been to identify the many obstacles that I placed in front of myself, the fears I fell prey to. To know better the enemy inside who keeps me from being the better me.
It has always been a challenge for me to exercise. I have tried for years, and usually give up.
Boredom, lack of effort, a perception of little benefit. Distraction, excuses. Now I am consciously making changes in my physical life. I am developing new habits that will help me live a longer life, or more importantly, a better life for me to enjoy while I’m here.
Don’t get me wrong. I have had a great life so far. But I’m not finished. Far from it, I am just beginning. Again.
Here are a few of the specific actions and strategies that I am using to facilitate these changes:
Everyday, I start with 30 minutes of cardio exercise. My cardio rehab group turned me on to some videos at https://teambodyproject.com/. It is 100% low impact for beginners. Daniel, the guy with the beard in the videos, leads the exercises. It is free on YouTube. There are no excuses not to do this.
Here are a few of his words of encouragement:
“If you are moving, you are winning.
The most important thing with exercise is consistency.
We are lucky to move, lucky to be here.
First, you have to finish, enjoy yourself, and comeback tomorrow.
We are looking for progress, not perfection.
Be strong, be focused.
You can. You will. You are. You won this. Believe.
First Half is the winner, second half is the warrior.
Smile. You’re working. Feel good about it.
Punches- I love punches!
Luxuriate in your own brilliance.
The only thing that matters is one you don’t fall over, and that you finish together.”
When I first started these exercises, my coordination was lousy. It still is, but I’m getting better. Creating body memory, which if you play an instrument, you understand the concept of body memory.
Sounds simple, but this has always been a challenge for me. Like many men, I resist drinking water. I am getting better at it though. Often when you get a craving to eat something, it is really your body saying it needs water. Guess what, coffee and alcohol, while using water and ice, are not hydrating. Your body needs the hydration to lubricate itself, function better, and clean away the poisons that can accumulate, creating inflammation and leading to disfunction, disease, and those blockages in arteries and other parts of our body.
3. Conscious eating.
It takes a lot of focus here, because most of us have a history of bad choices, bad judgement.
You know what I say? Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.
We are surrounded by bad choices. Unconscious diets, binge eating, and my old friend -alcohol, which exaggerates bad judgements into really bad judgements. Trust me.
So start simple. Start by eating less. Smaller portions. Get a smaller plate, bowl, spoon. After you finish, pause 5 minutes. Are you still hungry. Probably not. Are you thirsty? Hydrate.
Be considerate of what you eat, because you are being considerate to yourself.
I love sweets. Saturday I let myself have something small, but good. Sort of a reward system. So much of eating for me is/was motivated by boredom.
Set yourself small goals that you can achieve. My goal this week was to eat less bread. I almost cut it out.
Don’t buy or make a cake or pie or cookies that sit there tempting you.
Go out. Walk some and buy yourself a small treat. Infrequently. Just because you are an adult, and you don’t have to listen to anybody tell you what to do, doesn’t give license to satisfy every urge. Yes it takes discipline. So I set myself small goals.
This week I am back at work. I set an alarm to go off every hour. I gave myself a message, like hydrate, get up and walk around, have a small healthy snack, go for a walk etc. Every hour I give myself a new message, so I don’t become lost in the computer world and forget to take care of myself. The day seems to go by faster. I get more done.
In the modern world of multi tasking, just pick one thing each hour and get it done. Keep asking yourself, is this important? This questioning can even extend to why you are even doing what you are doing.
Life is short. It can and does end. Death is something we cannot escape. Try to make life special while you are here.
4. Be as positive as possible.
We live in a world that is fuelled by fear, run by bots, stupid algorithms that reinforce fear, a social media that divides us turning society into antisocial trolls and armchair experts.
Ask yourself, is Joe Rogan or Neil Young really important? To you, to your life?
Or is this a distraction to rile you up? Forget that kind of nonsense. Is that really important to you?
I have had depression for the past 14 years, since my first heart attack, probably longer if I am being honest. My wife has always said “exercise.” Unfortunately with m selective male hearing, all I heard was…..was….I forget. Were you saying something? Did you want a drink? I do.
And back on the wheel spinning like a white rat in a cage.
I take an antidepressant, but with exercise, I am in a better head space than ever.
Getting off antidepressants is murder. I know. Trust me. I’m not sure if I am ready yet for that battle.
But who knows? Miracles do happen.
5. Miracles happen.
We are surrounded by angels. The person who loves you most, might be standing right next to you. If you can identify the enemy inside, you can defeat it. When the enemy inside is you, you have to know that enemy to defeat it.
If you are your own worst enemy, you deserve better. You deserve to call out that enemy, and overcome it.
You overcome it by being the best “you” that “you” can be.
Sometimes that is a process, a journey, it can take a lifetime. If you are lucky.
I am so much lucky.
Are you happy with your life? If you are, spread that love around.
If you are not happy, please know that you can become happier by being better to yourself.
Perfection is not the goal. Just gradual improvement.
At the end of the cardio classes that I took 14 years ago, after that first heart attack, they would say hug yourself. Cross your arms and hug yourself. Because you survived, because you have another chance.
I guess I didn’t learn that lesson 14 years ago. I thought I did at the time, but I fell back into bad choices.
This cat has nine lives.
I’m not sure how many lives I have gone through so far, but this one seems to be working out.
And part of the reason it is working out, is that I am working out.