“Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” ~The Dalai Lama
It was three in the morning. The mean, destructive words that someone had said to me back in high school were replaying in my mind like a broken record.
“You’re fat! Why are you swimming with your shirt on? Stop eating so much!”
As I heard each word in the back of my mind, I felt the passion begin to burn within me to help those who were overweight and suffering from self-worth issues, like I once was.
At eighteen years old, I decided to open up my own fitness business. I had a burning desire to help others because I knew was it was like to feel worthless inside, to hate looking at yourself in the mirror, and to not be able to take your shirt off in front of people because you were embarrassed of your body.
The desire was so intense that it had me getting up every morning at 3:00am to study, research, and work on my business.
I was working at the gym, building my business from 5.30am to 9.30pm, five days a week. Other health coaches kept telling me, “Matt, you need to settle down; you’re going to get burned out!”
But I thought I was Superman at the time, replying with comments like, “You just don’t want this as bad as I do!”
Time went by, and at a young age I thought I had everything. I was doing what I love, I was getting massive results for my health coaching clients, and I was earning high amounts of money. Business was great! But even though I felt I had everything, there was still one thing missing.
I was constantly getting sick and taking time off of work. I was sleeping four hours a night. I was getting sleep paralysis. I wasn’t making time to prepare my meals or train myself anymore, and my energy was deteriorating so much that I had my own little bed in the staff room so I could take naps in between coaching clients.
Day in and day out I was struggling, until one day, I walked into my parents’ bathroom and gazed over at the mirror. Tears started running down my face.
I slowly crouched down to the ground with both hands on my head. I was shocked at seeing how my own personal standards had dropped so much, to the point where I had gained back most of the body fat I’d once had.
I suddenly realized that the thing I was missing was my health.
The sadness quickly turned into anger burning within me. I used the anger as fuel to make a decision that was about to change my life.
I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. I hated that I wasn’t able to be productive throughout the day because I had no energy to do anything. And I was fed up with not being congruent with what I was teaching my clients.
I ran down into my basement and grabbed a small notebook. I wrote down everything I was committed to changing and the reasons why I must change it now.
I made a decision that from that day forward, I wasn’t going to value contribution, success, or wealth higher than my health and body.
I was going to value health above everything and treat my body like a temple.
I began cleansing my body with fresh vegetables juices, I started exercising again five days a week, I became vegan, and I began riding to work instead of driving. I started doing little things that mattered and was going to produce more health, energy, and vibrancy.
I learned a lot of things during this chapter of my life that may be useful to you:
1. Value health above everything.
When you value building wealth above your health, you will face massive challenges, either in the short term or in the long term. But when you value health above everything else, the results you create in that area will translate to all other areas of your life.
You will feel more spiritually connected, you will feel more confident with yourself, you will produce more throughout your day, and you will have pure energy to spend time and be playful with those who matter most.
2. Schedule, schedule, schedule!
If you don’t take the time to schedule, it’s mostly like not going to happen. That was true for me.
It might be helpful for you to take time on a Friday or Saturday to schedule when you will prepare your meals for the week, when you will eat, and when you will exercise, meditate, or do yoga.
3. Find an accountability partner or coach.
Although I didn’t have a health coach, I learned the importance of connecting with someone with higher standards than you in the area you’re trying to improve. I actually had an accountability phone call on a Monday morning, where a friend and I would exchange our goals for the week.
Our goals ranged from running half an hour five days a week to having a green vegetable juice and salad every day. We attached consequences to not following through by making a commitment to each other that we would do 100 squat thrusts if we didn’t accomplish those goals we set out. Ouch!
Jim Rohn once said, “Take care of your body. It’s the only place we have to live in.” My only hope is that you take his advice and the lessons I’ve learned and start applying them to your life.
Have you ever valued work above your health? If so, what has it cost you?
Photo by Jesslef