A Healthy Body is True Freedom

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There seems to be a narrative around good health. It goes something like this: the restrictions you put on yourself for the food you eat, and the time used for exercise, is not worth the sacrifice as you only live once, so you may as well enjoy it while you can.

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that you only have one life and should enjoy it while you can. But many people correlate that enjoyment to hedonism. Alcohol, junk food, smoking, drugs, sleeping late, are all a part of a hedonistic lifestyle. One that I lived for 20 years of my adult life.

Bite Size Hedonism

The fallacy is you need to give up all of the things you used to enjoy in order to change into a healthier life. You have to become a boring broccoli eater and gym bro.

Firstly this fallacy is just not true. Frankly, if you are in your 40’s yearning for living like you did in your 20’s, then you probably need to grow up anyway. Those hedonistic practices you used to enjoy can still be had, but in smaller portions and much less regularly. This way, you do not yearn for the good old days, which by the way never ever return. That’s simply not how life works. It moves forward, not backward.

Investment In Your Future Self

I think the younger generation sees things differently. My kids for sure can see the sacrifices I made for them. The hours worked, the dinners with customers, the never ending travel. And from what I can tell, they are eschewing this lifestyle for one of more balance. The basic principles of hard work don’t change. But they are now surrounded by a recognition that their parents are maybe not the healthiest due to these sacrifices made and hedonistic lifestyle lived.

My epiphany came nine years ago when I was 45 years old. I looked at my life. Then I looked at the average 80 year old in the UK and saw they were overweight, unable to move with various autoimmune diseases, and not living a particularly comfortable life.

I looked at rural Philippines and saw 80 year olds farming the fields with lean bodies. I saw how strong they were. They may not look strong, but decades of always carrying and lifting and moving had built these strong old bodies which moved smoothly.

I looked at my future self, and only saw one way. That was to have a broken body much the same way of many UK elderly people (not you Dad, I know you’re a fit old man). 

I was 45, and my body felt in pain. I was out of shape. Not “out of shape” as in unfit. But “out of shape” as in my body did not move properly and I could not stand up straight.

That was when I made the decision to invest in my future self. To stop thinking about the sacrifices of going to the gym and eating whole food. To change my mindset about that. To realise they are not sacrifices. They are an investment in me and my family, particularly my grandchildren and hopefully my great grandchildren. I wanted to see who my children grow to be. I wanted to see the next generation of my bloodline and know who they are. I wanted to see them grow and I wanted to be around for as long as possible to see who they are. I wanted to be able to guide them with that Grandad wisdom you only ever got from your Grandad.

The Law of Increasing Returns

Nine years after making that decision, all I can say is it is almost certainly the best decision I have ever made in my life. The law of increasing returns in any model tends to reach a point where there’s a plateau, or maybe the increasing turns into diminishing at some point.

As I went through my journey, I knew everything I was doing helped me feel better in many ways. Physically. Emotionally. Spiritually. As each year passed and I continued to feel better year after year, I wondered when this feeling would start to diminish. But now that I’m in my 9th year, I’ve stopped wondering about that. I know this feeling will never stop. I know the more I continue along this path, the better I will continue to feel.

It’s not only the actions of what you do (nutrition / exercise) which fuel this feeling. It’s the mental stimulation of learning and trying new things. It’s the reopening of muscular and neural pathways which had been pruned from my body and brain due to lack of use which are coming back and making me feel younger than ever. It’s the never ending pursuit of new challenges and new knowledge. Wisdom is knowing there is so much more for you to learn.

Change Your Mindset From Sacrifice to Investment

I’m big into reframing thoughts to help overcome obstacles. Instead of thinking you’re sacrificing your fun or life by waking up early to hit the gym. Think of it as an investment in your future self.

Rather than thinking you’ll miss your sweet pastry breakfasts every day. Reframe it to remember your high protein breakfast is an investment in your body and mind.

Rather than thinking you’ll miss your regular lunch time Mcdonalds. Reframe it to remember your new whole food lunch is fuel in your muscles and brain for the future you.

Resources

In Mind Pump 2308, Sal starts the podcast with his thoughts on this subject which the boys discuss in depth. They remind the listener that real freedom is in the ability to move without pain in your older age. Real freedom is having a robust strong body to fight against infections and the thrusts of life.

I still have pain in my body. But it is multiple times less than it was nine years ago, and I know that the law of increasing returns will ensure my body continues to improve and feel better.

It is not a sacrifice to hit the gym for 2-3 hours per week. It is an investment in the freedom of your future self to be able to move and live your life, while enjoying the spoils of your decades of labour in healthy comfort, knowing you did all you could to make that happen.

Invest in your future self. Invest in your future family. Invest in your future life. Take care of your body and brain by moving more and eating whole foods to Live Stronger, and Live Longer!

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