I remember the day it hit me in the face like a freight train. My life as I knew it was about to change forever. I had been married for just over 10 years. I had 3 beautiful children and my family was about to break up. Things were never going to be the same again. Attorneys were creeping out of the woodwork like sharks, looking to claim their share of my dwindling funds. When your life is falling apart around you, chances are your business isn’t exactly going to thrive either. What was I to do? Drowning my sorrows in the bottom of a whiskey bottle seemed like a good alternative, and I tried this but found that I felt a whole lot worse when the next day stared me in the face.
Ordinary men can become heroes
One day I returned from a particularly nasty mediation with her attorneys. I wanted to take a shower and wash off the bad karma. Stripped down to my shorts, I walked past a mirror and saw a guy I hardly recognized. Not only was this dude fat and sporting a belly, but his eyes shocked me the most. Dead and listless… I took a closer look at myself and wondered if this was the rock-bottom they refer to when your life turns to shit. For a second, I thought about pouring myself a drink that would help me forget, but I changed my mind. Instead, I found my hardly used running shoes and laced those up.
I started running, without knowing where to, or how far I was going. It was probably more of a Michelin man-style wobble because I could feel the outside layer of my skin get hot as it was bouncing sound in places I would not want to acknowledge. I ran and I ran and returned home with my lungs on fire, and my legs shaking. – but you know what… those incessant voices in my head had stopped for once. I was more concerned with getting my breath back, than giving way to those thoughts about how bad things had gotten.
I grabbed this clue with both hands and that night, I sat down and began to engineer my road to recovery…
...and it was gonna have to hurt a bit, because I had learned that physical discomfort was a whole lot better than feeling mental discomfort.
You see, when you put yourself in tough situations and find the hurt, the mere act of surviving that battle makes you stronger. You’re not only toughening yourself physically, but the mind follows.
Over the next 3 months, I took my pain to the pavement. I ran and I ran – And then I ran some more. I lost 10Kg’s during this time and began to feel good again. I wasn’t looking amazing, as I was a smaller version of the somewhat chubby guy I had seen in the mirror.
I joined a gym and sought the pain of a hard workout every day.
I began to plan the food I was consuming and to track this. The results were not amazing, because I was still eating too many carbs. I read up about hormones, especially testosterone, and discovered that if I cut back on my carbs, I would be able to restore my insulin sensitivity. So I did that. A friend introduced me to intermittent fasting and once I got into this, it made a huge difference to my training. I took up a meditation practice and discovered that my days were just that much better after I had made an effort to be in the present. I began to inform myself about achieving better sleep, as I had learned that cortisol, the stress hormone was not your friend in fat loss.
I tell you the above story because through trial and error, I managed to create a system that I was able to adopt as a lifestyle. I am now 20Kgs’ (44lbs) lighter than I was a mere few years ago. I have the hormonal constitution of someone 20 years younger than me. I am getting leaner and stronger by the day, and above all, my self-respect has returned, because I learned that anything is possible if you’re prepared to bite down on life’s bit hard enough. Compared to the newly divorced guy from years before, I have levelled up and my relationships with people are that much more fulfilling. I now run a program designed to help newly divorced silverbacks to get back onto their horse. This applies to other traumatic situations too. (you need not be getting divorced before you decide to level up).
In summary, I want to leave you with a few pointers that worked for me. I call them…
THE 4F'S TO RECOVERY
Intermittent Fast (IF). We’re all the sum of what we put into our bodies – but there’s more. It’s equally, if not more, important to note WHEN you put food into your bodies. When you allow the natural processes of autophagy (removal of dead and damaged cells) to do it’s work, you slow down the ageing process. Your muscles recover faster and your immunity improves. Forget breakfast, and have your first meal after 1 pm and see how good you feel.
Cut out starchy carbs for 2 weeks keeping the total amount down to around 30gm per day. Cut out bread, pasta, white rice, and cereals. This allows your body to focus on processing your food in the absence of a sugar rush. No more post-carb crashes. Work out your lean body mass (LBM) and find out your maintenance calories from there. A pound of fat has 3500 calories. Eat below your maintenance intake and when you’ve “saved” 3500 calories, you will have lost a pound of fat for sure. Track your calories.
This is not a self-defense course about how to avoid flying cutlery, but rather, I want to encourage you to adopt a movement discipline. If you’re a Silverback then I advise that you hit the gym. We older peeps lose muscle and gain fat more easily. Stress those muscles and force them to grow by pushing some good old weights. Who knows, – you may even become proud of your gains, and that helps when you’re trying to re-engineer your confidence. Exercise releases endorphins that make you feel good. Emotional pain gives way to physical pain. Finding hurt in the gym is better than allowing your heart and mind to bleed out. Trust me… I’ve been there.
Adopt a morning routine. A few minutes spent on yourself every day will pave the way to a beautiful day. I write in a gratitude journal. It helps to get your thoughts, even when muddled, onto the page (of whichever your preferred medium). Anger, fear, and resentment cannot exist in the same place as gratitude. Watch the ruminations disappear when you know what you’re thankful for. There are many brain hacks, but the very last hack I want to leave you with is that of meditation. Yeah, I can see you rolling your eyes, thinking it’s a waste of time, but hear me out here. When you engage your prefrontal cortex (the area we only use for 5% of decision making), you move from acting out the habits which have shaped you over the years. Your monkey mind is not on autopilot and this is a huge help when you’re working hard at reprogramming yourself for a better life. Your failures of the past can only be changed if you don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over again.
Over the years, I have translated this and a lot more information into a lifestyle system that I now use to create effective and lasting changes in those who need to change.
Know that better emotions stem from motion. When you’ve learned to silence your inner bitch, ie the monkey mind, you’re in a position to get through life more consciously, instead of being on autopilot, when old bad habits get the best of you.
I want to leave you with one of my favorite poems by Charles Bukowsky
“The Laughing Heart
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
Get strong, stay strong and be an example for your kids. Forget revenge. Karma has a way of levelling the playing fields in the end.