My story, my struggles and the truth about change
If you know me, you know pictures like this are very rare (which is why there is only these few on social media).
I am really not the guy to post bragging, half naked pictures all over Instagram (as happy as I might be with my body, I in no way measure up to IG professionals!!)
So why these two pictures? And why now?
Well, I want to talk about the long game. I want to explain why sustainable change takes so long but why it is THE ONLY WAY to long term health and wellbeing.
I will also talk about my own struggles in the last 18 months and how I have overcome a forced change in training styles, a broken ankle, my risk of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), a gut health overhaul, running my first half marathon, getting to see the changes that I set out to achieve and what lies ahead for me in the next 6 months!
Its time to grab a cup of tea 🙂
My change really started with the picture on the left. I was happy this day. The picture was taken early morning whilst on holiday and I had not trained or ‘cut’ myself for the picture. It was simply me in the morning. This was me every morning. And I was happy with my overall health and happy with how I looked on a day to day basis.
At this point I was using Tabata training (a form of H.I.I.T training) 3-4 times a week with about 1 x 5k run per week to keep me running fit for any obstacle course races I was due to take part in. – This is where things went wrong!
Later this day, I decided to go on a cross country run before going out for the evening. Within the first few hundred yards I decided to jump (or try to jump) a cattle grid. In the rain. Without trail trainers on. I was too confident. I failed. I tore my ankle ligiment in 2 places and put myself out of obstacle course races for over 8 months!! Tabata training was now off the table too. I was miserable.
It was around this time that I had several health checks as a result of my Dad’s 2 heart attacks earlier that year. The results were not what I wanted to hear.
I already knew I had a heart murmour but they also found a further 2 heart issues that put me at risk of SCA. Just being told that took my breath away a little but it was what it was. I was already doing all I could to minimise the risks by living a healthy life but I was told that high intensity training was not the best form of training for me to be taking part in.
Suddenly everything I had based my life around the previous 2 years was being taken away. I had already called an end to my 12 year hockey career a few months earlier. I needed to pick myself up and make changes. Not easy when you can’t walk up stairs without being in pain.
So I decided on something I had never done before. I was going to move to strength work. It was a scary shift! I was by far the leanest guy in my gym and when I started with big moves such as bench presses and deadlifts I ALWAYS had to remove weights off the bars before I could even start to lift. I was embarrassed and felt like Captain America (before he was injected with his magic serum. Whilst he was still the wimpy army recruit!)
However, I wasn’t going to be put off! I knew I needed to add strength to my joints to reduce injuries (not jumping over cattle grids would probably help too) so this wasn’t just about being forced to change, I knew my physical activites would be helped alot by adding a little bulk and a little strength.
I knew this would be a long process though! I was not kidding myself. I had to commit fully to this change.
I also knew that I have a very delicate digestive system. I have a hiatus hernia and increasing my daily calories alone would be tough! It just meant that everything would have to be done at a snails pace but I knew if I was consistent, I would get where I wanted to be. I had also spent so long working on my gut health that I really did.t want to bugger that up. I had to be sensible and careful with my nutrition.
So we move on to picture number 2….
Refill your tea if needed at this point 🙂
Picture 2 was taken 16 months after the first picture and was around 3/4 of the way around my first (and quite possibly last) half marathon.
This was the first time I had really seen the result of my 16 months of hard work. Ok, its not the best picture. The headband (which I swear was only on to hide my headphones!), the dodgy tan lines and the lack of a smile to the camera do not help but I was actually really pleased that I could see physical changes in my body. Changes I had worked very hard for! Maybe the changes are not so visible to everyone but knew my upper body was bigger and stronger and the definition was vastly improved (although helped by running 9 miles on a hot day no doubt!)
And now, 2 months on, I am still working very hard to add a little size and strength. Its still tough. My body naturally does not want to put on wait (I know that makes many people angry, im sorry but that is my genetics im afraid)
However, when you walk past a sparrow who has more muscle on his legs than you do, you know you have to carry on working at it 🙂
I have just this week started a new 6 month training program that will take this transformation to just over the 2 year mark and maybe then I will feel confident to share my progress! Just dont expect Henry Cavill or Hugh Jackman transformation pics! But in my own world, I know I will be happy and proud of myself and it does not matter what anybody thinks of you. As long as you move through life with good intentions and without knowingly hurting people, it only matters what you think of you!