You have one life, live it

Today marks the 1st anniversary of my Dad dying from prostate cancer, which along with recent events has made me reflect on life a little and I wanted to share my thoughts.  Over the past couple of months, a friends brother died suddenly from an aneurysm in his early 40’s without any warning, a past bootcamper died in her early 30’s from complications during surgery, and only 2 weeks ago a friend had a ‘mishap’ during a parachute jump – more about that later.

These events have led to a number of conversations recently with friends and clients about life, how we choose to live it and the quality of the lives that we lead.  In my day to day role as a health coach, I often talk to people about the effect their lifestyle choices are having on their body and mind and I feel that most of the population are merely scraping by and surviving their lifestyles.

They scrape themselves out of bed in the mornings, have to have a coffee to get going because they just have no energy, have something crap for breakfast because they have no time to prepare anything and eating healthy is ‘more expensive’.  The list of reasons and excuses to not take control is endless, unhappy relationships, miserable boss, a job they hate, blah blah blah.

Nobody said that life would be easy, it has its ups and downs but those downs are lower with a negative outlook.  It can be hard to remain positive when everyone around you is negative, we all have times when the odds seem to stack up against us but we can choose to let the odds beat us and give in or we can fight and shape our life in to something we want to live.

The food that we eat has a massive effect on this, if you eat crap you will generally feel crap.  Over the past couple of weeks I have experimented with eating “normally”, not putting as much focus on the nutrient quality and quantity of the foods I have been eating; that is, “normally” as described by some of our customers.

I have grabbed sandwiches and snacks from garages when out rather than preparing good quality food and taking it with me.  I have chosen the ‘”healthier” options but still from the limited selection available.  I’ve drunk coffee most days, for a little kick; I’m not looking forward to the caffeine withdrawal headaches at the weekend.

The result of this experiment – I feel crap, I want to hit the snooze button in the mornings, I’m craving more crap food, I’m tired, my skin is really dry and my body aches.  This is not “normal”, we shouldn’t feel this way, yet most people seem to resign themselves to feeling like crap or they have felt that way for so long they don’t realise that they do feel crap because they have forgotten what it is like to feel good.

The other side of this, is that “we are what we eat”; the food that we consume is used to make up the new cells in our bodies yet we wonder why we feel like crap.  Cells made from crap food will not function as well or have the same structure as cells made from nutritious real food.  Imagine building a house from playdoh rather than cement, it will sort of hold the bricks together but I really wouldn’t want to live there.

Our health service is under a massive strain from lifestyle related illness yet the advice we’re given is to take a pill rather than sort our sh*t out and eat properly.  The chemistry of your body is affected by the foods that you eat and that includes brain chemistry.  Thinking more positively is much harder when you’re feeling like crap and the chemicals you have firing in your brain are poor versions of what they are meant to be.

It is not necessary to simply survive your way through life, you can truly LIVE your life by following simple steps to improve your health; I’ll post more about this over the next month as part of Movember.  The first step is to have an “attitude of gratitude”; be grateful for the things you already have in your life rather than striving for something else.

As mentioned at the start of this post, a friend recently had a parachute accident that left him with severe injuries to his spine.  Only 2 weeks later he is at home with his family, he is determined to return to full movement and health as soon as he can and has such a strong mind set that I have no doubts that this will happen.  He posted the following on facebook on his return home and I found it made me grateful for all that I have and really inspiring – I hope you do to.

“Hello everyone. This is the first time I have been on here since my ‘mishap’ and words cannot express how overwhelmed I feel for your messages of love and support for my family and I during these trying times. I would just like to share some of my thoughts with you.

Firstly.. I can confirm one of lifes sickliest feelings is the knowledge that you are about to die in plain view of your family and friends (including your children!) and there is absolutely NOTHING you can do about it!

Secondly.. I’d like to talk about luck, because the fact is I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Here’s why: People would say that for BOTH your parachutes to unsuccessfully deploy properly is extremely unlucky, however I would argue (from first hand experience) that for one of them to half open and slow you down just enough to get away with a shattered spine and live to see another day is incredibly lucky indeed.

At this point it may be worth to note that the feeling of relief of being able to wiggle your toes after your pelvis has smashed into the ground at 40mph far outways the feeling of excruciating pain alike to having petrol poured over your spine and leg bones and setting light to it!

My luck was further reinforced at the hospital when speaking to several Doctors/surgeons, the first of which said: ‘When we opened you up and saw what a mess your spine was in, I cannot believe you’re not paralyzed!’ He added that I had just enough ligaments and tendons in my lower back to hold everything together upon impact! On another two occasions I was simply told by my Doctors: ‘Well Steve, we shouldn’t be having this conversation because you should be dead!’

So, I’m sure you’ll agree that I am very lucky… only it doesn’t stop there because my luck was to continue, and it’s a luck that I’m ashamed to say I sometimes take for granted…

It is no more obvious than at present how lucky I am to be surrounded by the friends and family I have. In particular my Mum and wife Tracy Castano who both went against Hospital policy to stay with me throughout the night (18hrs) and care for me. Also to all the people who rallied together and made it possible to continue Hospital visits when transport was an issue. Also to my friends who travelled to Nottingham from around the UK to see me, bringing gifts and laughter. To my extended family from around the world who have given their messages of love and support. I am lucky to be nursed back to health by my amazing wife Trace who has constantly catered for my every need since coming home. I love you.

Lastly… I would like to say that I note that many posts refer to me as being a ‘tough guy’ with the strength to see this through. Understand that it is and always has been the people in my life that has made me into who I am…and for that, I thank you!

So… you can keep your lottery wins, for I have won the lottery of life (and always had!) to be surrounded by the greatest friends and family a man could ever hope for, which is proof I am the worlds luckiest guy. FACT!”

Tomorrow sees the start of Movember, we are offering a free month on Achieve Bootcamp to all men who sign up to our Movember team and commit to raising at least £20.00 for the charity; you can join here.

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