Longevity. The beginning of a new life chapter.
Longevity. The beginning of a new life chapter for me.
Turning 39 and heading towards 40, I had a major realization about the direction of my life and health. This might come as a surprise, but I had to face some ugly truth. Thanks to my wife for getting me to read the book Outlive by Peter Attia, not only have I been able to face these truths but, more importantly, take meaningful and purposeful action on them. In the last part of the book, Peter talks about mental health, and I understand why he placed it in the order that he did for the book. As you go through the book, it can feel almost overwhelming, even for me, being in the health and fitness space. But at the end, he basically says, after describing his own struggles with mental health, that you have to make sure you have a life you want to live for.
This hit home. I have a very blessed life and over the last four years God has protected me, my family, and my business. God has always provided for me, and even though I do recognize the blessings in my life, I was missing something. Every single day I wake up with anxiety, stress, and burnout, with thoughts going through my head of why. I always correlated this stress to the business side of my life. I put a heavy burden on myself to make sure I am doing all I can to make the gyms successful for our members, coaches, and my own family, but in that, I constantly feel like I am never going to see it happen. I have literally prayed for God to take the stress away, to take the gyms away. I thought sometime during Covid and the years following, this is it. Time for a chapter change or even a book change in my life. God has a different plan for me and my family.
During that time, coaches moved on, people close to me changed directions, and I kept waiting for my path to change, for God to show me the new plans. Each time I thought a new direction was coming, he would sprinkle a little bit of hope on the seemingly narrow path I often felt I wasn’t capable of walking on anymore. Just enough to get me going and pushing through another day. The majority of the days the past few years were hard to get through, each feeling like a max-effort act of discipline. I had been going to therapy, praying, and digging for something to help switch from a mindset of just getting through another day, to waking up each day with purpose, excitement, and drive.
What I am getting at is the path to a longer and awesome health span. Living into your 80s and 90s takes a tremendous amount of hard work, starting as young as you possibly can. You have to be willing to do more than 99% of the population daily for a 40-50-60 year long delayed gratification that honestly might never come. You could get cancer, you could get hit by a car, you trip and fall in the shower, hit your head, and die for no reason. People die prematurely every single day. To put in the work day in and day out to live a healthy and awesome lifespan, you better first totally grasp why you want to live the life anyway because you could be putting in all this work, sacrifice, and effort just to get taken out tomorrow.
Obviously, being married and having two beautiful children is a massive motivator for me. My family deserves to have a man who is happy, strong, healthy, and a driven leader in their life, someone who can inspire them, help them, and be there for them not just today but for many years to come. In a backward way, I think about death a lot, and in two aspects. The first one is that I am not scared of it, it sounds peaceful, and lots of times, meeting Jesus seems like the only way for the world to get healed and less crazy. The second is that death is inevitable for all of us, and we don’t know how much time we have on this earth. When I look at my kids and the world I choose to bring them into, I have a massive responsibility to give them the best opportunity I can to have a great life. In my partnership with my wife in marriage, I have a massive responsibility to be the best teammate I can possibly be for her. With this at the forefront of my brain each day, and each day being a struggle to get through with any resemblance of excitement and happiness, something needed to change if I had any chance at being the person my family deserves.
This also translates into business, I feel a similar level of pressure to provide for my coaches, and my members, by making the business successful so it can continue to provide for all of them and bring value to all their lives. All in all, I put a heavy burden on myself that I often feel like I am failing day in and day out, with the years of Covid and post covid amplifying this feeling 10-fold.
With the short backstory of where I have been in my mental state, as I went through the book Outlive, something had to change. Sure, in many ways, I am already physically healthier than 99% of the world population, but I am mentally fighting a darker side that I could not seem to overcome, and to be the best I can be at 90 years old, I had to figure my what and my why going into 40 years old.
One of the biggest cornerstones of the Bible is about service to others. Living a life of service is what Jesus expects us to do. Service to our spouse, children, family, friends, and community. If there is one thing in that book that stands out for me, it is this. There is also a big one of accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior as the path to eternal life, but in our life down here on earth, through the example of Jesus Christ is one of service to others. In the business and leadership guru world, this is called servant leadership, but it all comes from the Bible.
For me to be the best servant and leader to my family, community, and those around me, the past became painfully apparent. God has me right where he wants me.
The largest part of the book Outlive, Doctor Attia talks about, and surprising coming from an MD is that exercise is the single most important factor that decides and influences a person’s health span more than any other thing a person can do. We are in a society of the easy way out, minimal work ethic, sick care, and drugs to keep people alive. This is not a life, and health care is broken when it comes to living a long healthy, and functional life. Health insurance will pay for all kinds of sickness care but contribute nothing to preventative care, not even a premium discount for being healthy.
If you didn’t know this, my wife works as an Internal Medicine Family practitioner, and she sees the broken side of medicine every single day. I work on the preventative side of healthy people staying out of her office other then regular and routine checkups. As we are reading this book together, it became painfully clear that our path of service to our community and to each other has everything to do with helping people master their health and life span. God brought us together and kept us together as a team, not just for our family, but to serve those in our community by helping them with their longevity. This lightbulb moment was what I needed to flip the switch on my life purpose.
Before this, my mindset of coaching and the gyms was around the quintessential thought that people need to do this to be healthy. Doctor Attia then brings piles of research and statistical objective data that the single most important factor in disease prevention and longevity is exercise. There is nothing at all more important. This hit me hard, and as I was reading it, and hearing him say what kind of training, how to train, and the importance of training, I was like, yes, and I know all this stuff, and I know it well. So, this book shining the bat light right in my face, that God has me in this position to provide the single most important thing people need to live a long and healthy life, the blinder that was blocking me from seeing the light, the calling for help had been removed. Until this moment in time, I had no clue about the power and knowledge God had provided me with to us in service to others.
Some people lately have told me I seem like a new person. That is because I think I am, maybe not new, but when the blinders are taken off to your power and capabilities, it is hard not to let that change you and evolve you. I have always felt like I lead people best from the front. In the early days of the gym, leadership was by doing all the work day in and day out. Leading as an athlete was a big driver for me. CrossFit filled that athlete void in me that I missed, and this was the cornerstone of me, the coach. Performance driven. Life changed, and I struggled to change with it. It was hard to hang up the athlete jersey and coach others without that perspective. Lots of going through the motions followed after I decided I was no longer going to compete or try to compete. I am aware I was never relevant in the top side of athletes in CrossFit, but regardless, this was part of my identity and something that pushed me to train and coach.
Now, in this next chapter and with the blinders taken off to power I held through the knowledge of training, my 16 years of experience coaching fitness, and the opportunity I have to help and influence people with their health, it was time to compete again, it was time to lead again, from the front. A new coach and leader is born.
I see my battle now clearly, the war, the challenge, the fight God has laid out for me. It is something like my brother said. “I am my own biggest fear, greatest obstacle, and I must overcome myself to achieve the impossible.” Reading the book Outlive, it is and can be extremely overwhelming on what needs to be done day in and day out to live an optimal life. Let’s just say the government suggested 30 minutes of daily activity is not going to get it done.
In short, if you want to live independently in your 80 and 90’s you have to have an elite level of fitness and strength in your 40’s. For me, at age 39, to overcome the rate of decline we are all subjected to, I have to have the fitness of a high-level athlete in their early 20’s. So, to feel like a 60-year-old at age 80, you get the idea, that the work required only gets harder each year to maintain, let alone overcome decline and grow.
Now that I have my why, I laid out my own roadmap to what I have to do now, today, to be awesome at 80 and 90, God willing I get there.
The painful and obvious truths I had to face.
Anxiety and depression. I was never officially diagnosed with depression, but my wife knows what it looks like, Let’s just say we have had many conversations about it, and it was something I had to admit in order to be able to have any luck at overcoming it.
My blood pressure. I had been pre-hypertensive and hypertensive for a little over 12 years. Just riding the cusp of needing meds.
My cholesterol. Diet is massive, and although diet and exercise are vital to maintaining a healthy lipid profile, genetics play a role. I had to truly evaluate this because, for as long as I can remember, in my early twenties, I was always on the high side for my LDL.
My hormone imbalance. Since age 33, when I first had my testosterone checked in the quest to help with my chronic fatigue and anxiety symptoms, I have had extremely low testosterone. For the last 5 years, I had done everything possible, every test run, to figure out why and try to correct this, with no luck.
My back and shoulder injuries. This is probably one of the bigger issues for me. Competing in a CrossFit comp, ended me up in the emergency needing help to walk. Took me years to get the pain manageable to live with. But every single day for the last about 6 years now, I wake up in pain and live with some degree of pain in my lower back. Same for my shoulders. Shoulders go back to football and wrestling days. I got beat up, especially my left shoulder, and in the quest for CrossFit skills, I have dislocated it twice, doing muscle-ups. One time it was out for a couple of days, and after about day two of not being able to lift my arm over my head, I asked Dr. Mcbroom about it. He laid me down on the turf, started poking and manipulating my arm around, and we heard this massive pop. Suddenly, I could move my arm again. So, I was just hanging out with a dislocated shoulder. But in the vision of longevity, pain management and injury prevention is vitally important. If I struggle at age 38 to bend over and touch my toes some days or lift something overhead, what does that look like at 80? Well, not good is the answer. I saw the need to correct my chronic pain as one of the top issues I needed to overcome.
So, as my new chapter of coaching is coming, it is driven by my own life experiences and my own quest for a fulfilling long health span. The goal is to do cool shit when I am 90 and feeling awesome about it, and that is 50 years of delayed gratification. As I am navigating this for myself, I am going to do the best I can to bring all those in my life who are willing to put in the hard work right along with me. This quest will be difficult, and the only way to succeed is to fall in love with the process. As your coach, I am going to do all I can to help you with that process.
Part 1 begins in October 2023.