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May 21, 2018
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July 2, 2018

How I got into the best shape of my life

best shape

As many of you know I had a wakeup call last September when I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Thankfully after an operation and treatment I got the all clear in January (the day before my annual workshop SOAR – that was quite a week!) Whilst the last few months of the 2017 were challenging to say the least, my diagnosis was a catalyst for change. One such change was the motivation to get into the best physical shape I could in 2018.

I’ve attended gyms for nearly twenty years and generally I’m in fairly decent shape. I pay attention to what I eat and drink and I try to stay active. But I go through patches of laziness and when I’m not physically working out, my diet tends to deteriorate. In my line of work, those plastic wrapped hotel biscuits and break time pastries have been my weakness. When I saw myself on the video of SOAR 2018, I thought I was showing a bit of a belly, this combined with a general sense of trying to regain control over all aspects of my life (one of the most difficult aspects of the cancer diagnosis was no longer feeling in control of my life) and the small matter of getting married in 2018, I decided it was now time to get into the best possible shape I could.

The key difference – mindset

One of the books that really helped me last year was the late Louise Hay’s classic – You Can Heal Your Life. It contains an affirmation that starts ‘I love, value and approve of myself, so therefore today I’m……(and you can fill in the blank.’) The real distinguishing factor when it came to getting into shape was, that unlike in the past, I was not working against my body, trying to lose weight, unhappy with what I saw in the mirror etc, I was working on my physical health from a place of love and appreciation of my body, my vehicle in this world. My daily mantra was ‘I love, value and approve of myself, so therefore today I’m going to the gym/ doing yoga/ meditating/ buying organic/ going for a walk/ resting (whatever seemed right that day.) This was a fundament difference to the chore of getting fit or dieting in the past. I was exercising and eating well because I love and value myself, my body and my physical wellness.

The Results

Modesty prevents me from posting the before and after pictures, but in four months I lost 4 inches off my waist and just over a stone in weight. I gained lean muscle too. Most importantly I felt great energy wise, belts were tightened by two notches and clothes that had been put to the back of the wardrobe resurfaced. The photo at the top of the article is me holding 5lbs of fat, I lost 3 of these wads (and I won’t find them again!)

How exactly did I achieve this?

Personal training at the Gym

In January I sat down with Eileen my trainer at the Educo Gym in Castleknock. Just like in business if you want to manage anything you have to measure it. A plan was put in place. Written across my program card was ‘hot husband’ the motivational name for my health and fitness project. What I love about Educo is the short intense training sessions with a personal trainer. I averaged 3-4 sessions a week. (My thanks to Eileen, Fran, Emma and Sean for their support, motivation and friendship.)

Educo Gym

With Eileen, my trainer at Educo Gym Castleknock

More conscious and regular food shopping

When I make up my mind to do something I have iron willpower and focus. For me, it is about making a decision. The decisions I made were as follows –

No biscuits, pastries or treats at work events

No wine or booze during the week

No bread

At home, we also made the decision to reduce food quantity a little, so slightly smaller dinner portions on the plate. We also moved from plain rice and pasta to brown. Critical to the process of healthier, or cleaner eating, was ensuring the right sort of food was always in the house. If you are hungry and there is nothing healthy to hand, that’s when poor eating choices will be made. So food shopping was more tightly planned. As ever, I paid attention to the quantity of sugar in what I was eating (I’m always suspicious of those ‘low fat’ labels.) Yes, disciple is required, but my favourite definition of discipline is ‘choosing between what I want now and what I want most’ and I was very clear as to what I wanted most.

Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most. Click To Tweet

Yoga – my new passion

morning yoga

Morning yoga in the Kerry sunshine whilst on holiday

I’d toyed with idea of attending a yoga class for years, but I never seemed to get around to doing it. As it turned out one of the contractors involved in our house extension last year was also a yoga teacher, who taught a weekly class just up the road. So on a dark, cold, January evening, yoga mat under my arm, off I went. I was nervous as I was outside my comfort zone and it had been years since I was a floundering beginner at anything (not a good thing.) I took to it immediately. It was tough, but so rewarding. Yoga on a Thursday night has become an established recurring item in my diary.

Yoga is now also an integral part of my morning routine. 6.45am every weekday morning, the yoga mat is rolled out in the kitchen, I stick on some meditative music and do twenty minutes, followed by 20 minutes of meditation/ journalling/ spiritual reading. For me, there is no better way to start the day. For many months after being in hospital last year, I didn’t ‘feel myself.’ It was difficult to describe, I simply felt ‘off.’ My yoga practice has brought me back into myself, an alignment of mind, body and spirit.

As I say to clients, it’s never really about the end goal, it is who you become in the process of working towards the goal that makes all the difference. Whilst it was great to achieve the weight loss and the inch loss, these were just bi-products of a different, healthier way of living, one where I put my health and wellbeing front and centre, top of my agenda. The real payoff is how I’m feeling. That feeling is hard to describe. I feel myself again, or perhaps as Oprah would say, the best of myself. I received a lovely compliment recently from a workshop attendee who said I looked vibrant, which I accepted with gratitude. Vibrantly myself – that has a ring to it.

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