About 11 years ago a detour on a walk of shame home changed my life.
It was about 8am on a Saturday, I had been out for the night on another clubbing session…and had just bought what turned out to be my last packet of cigarettes ever. As I walked out of the shop I passed a playing field where I saw a 40yr or so father attempting to keep up with his two small kids as they wanted to play football……and all he really wanted to do was just sit down and smoke his fag.
It hit me like a slap in the face…
1) I would be that bloke if carried on my (then) current trajectory.
2) That’s assuming I lived that long, or hadn’t damaged the important bits that make babies.
3) I’m 28 yrs old, 20 stone and 50% fat mass, pretty much a walking heart attack waiting to happen. Booze, fags and god knows what else will not save me from that.
I lit a cigarette but felt a wash of darkness hit me….so I put it out and stamped on the entire packet…that was the last one I ever smoked and pretty much the last time I ever drank alcohol.
Up to this point I’d always used alcohol as a boost to help me with confidence issues when out socially. I was never a violent ‘drunk’ but many occasions I’d made a fool of myself. People who loved me had been telling me for years to cut back…and I had not listened…but at this moment all the things they’d said hit me even harder (I thank you all for that now..you know who you are!).
That week my amazing girlfriend (now wife), got me out running/stumbling across a football pitch. I’d nearly lost her through various silly antics the Christmas prior so luckily she hung on there…as she got her own back on that evening. I couldn’t run across the width of the pitch without a pounding in my head and my body screaming at me. My lungs felt like they were burning and I honestly thought I was going to die.
But….I’d found my WHY…
We were back in that park later that week. I must have looked a picture in my squeaky trainers and bouncing man boobs barely getting across the width of the pitch…BUT I made it back again. That was my breakthrough moment..I realised I was going to beat this one step/ pitch/ breath at a time.
A week later I was doing laps, then several, until I added up the distances and realised I had built up to 2 km in three weeks. I didn’t realise it at the time but as I had come from such a desperate place in my health, each week made such a huge polarising incremental difference that I felt considerably better week by week. I know now that I was fixing my mindset and getting good mental habits formed for life..blasting away excuses as I did it.
I then spent a few years hitting fitness hard, making all the mistakes such as over- training, getting injured and following poor nutrition choices, but I learnt so much I caught up and overtook those lost years. One day a few years in, whilst driving across New Zealand, I turned to my girlfriend (still now wife!) and proclaimed I was going to train to be a Personal Trainer when I got home.
That was the next level, I’d found my purpose, calling, whatever you want to call it.
I’d been self medicating with food and alcohol. I’d been filling the gap in my confidence in the misguided view that alcohol made me a more popular person, and then using food to make me feel fulfilled. Now I can walk into a busy place anywhere and never feel the self consciousness I used to feel. I walk tall knowing that I am strong enough to lift anything in my path, can run 10 miles anytime I want and am ready to take on any illness or affliction that may come my way.
Above all I now have all the energy I want to run about after our two kids, and feel so proud when they are asking to come and work out with me or go for a run.
Every day I remember how I used to look and feel and compare to how it is now. However, it’s the journey and challenges I went through which are actually the most satisfying and put the biggest smile on my face as I know I conquered it all.
I have enjoyed the journey through every step and realise that actually I have been this happy from the moment I made that decision. It hasn’t grown as my health improved, it had always been there from that moment…I knew deep down I would do this then and there. I found my WHY and that is what stopped the self doubt, excuses and wrong choices from derailing my efforts.
The journey was tough, and now I help others through it.
I am now part of the greatest industry there is which changes peoples lives….and it all started with a hung-over walk home… and a packet of cigarettes.
(And I now teach a boot camp in that very same park)