ARE WE IN THE BUSINESS OF BUILDING OTHERS UP, OR TEARING THEM DOWN? Why?
At work, there came a time when people were being moved to different areas. It was rumored that I would be going to another area. I didn’t want to go to another area, but knew that if I did it would be an exciting new experience and I would look at it as an opportunity to make fun and meaningful connections with new people. I was known at work as the, “healthy guy.” I’m the one who brings his own lunch, adheres to a strict diet plan, and stays away from carbohydrates and sugars, as much as possible. A few people went to my wife, who I am lucky enough to work with, and told her things like, “Your husband is coming to our area. Sorry in advance, but we are going to break him! We are going to get him to stop eating healthy!” They were just joking around. The people at work are awesome; however, a lot of truth is said in jest, and it made me think.
What most people don’t know is there is an important reason for this lifestyle and these “healthy” habits I have adopted and implemented in my life. I have had degenerative disc disease for decades, and the less I weigh the less pain I have to live with, which is also caused by MASSIVE amounts of inflammation that comes through nutritional deficiencies. I was also diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1999, but all of the symptoms of this disease disappear, as long as I don’t consume certain foods. When I experience inflammation that literally crushes my brain against my skull, MANY side affects ensue.
I have to work extremely hard to stay away from sugars and carbohydrates. Donuts used to be my kryptonite. Sugar can be a weakness and an addiction of mine, and I know it. It used to be incredibly easy to fall off the wagon, especially when it comes to sugar. After learning to eat protein, first thing, every meal, all of my cravings vanished, as long as protein is available. I choose to eat boiled eggs, first thing in the morning, and am never tempted by those cravings or sweet treats.
There are few things I love in this life more than delicious comfort foods, pies, cakes, candy bars, sodas, ice creams, ice cream sandwiches, Gatorade, cheese cake, and yes, the list could go on and on for days. I literally put the enjoyment of food up there with the enjoyment of sex, alcohol, and drugs. The dopamine hits are all the same. All of these things can be enjoyable. They can also become an addiction, a way for us to distract ourselves, temporarily, from our suffering, dark thoughts, self-abuse and annihilation, anguish, stress, and overwhelming anxieties. Food has been an addiction for me for years-especially the foods with sugars and carbs, and I work hard to not be carried away into distractions that come from addictions, as there is FAR more important INNER work needing my attention.
I spent years of my life not knowing anything about the ill effects of sugars and carbs and what they had to do with my physical, emotional, and mental health. One day I met someone who would forever change my life. I only saw him once. He told me about a documentary called Fed Up on Netflix. After watching it, I began a life-long journey of improved health that has benefited me, and added value to my life. More importantly to me, it has also affected my children and many loved ones as they have witnessed the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and financial healing and improvements in my new, habitual way of living. I had no clue of the devastating effects of sugars and carbs until I completely stopped using and enjoying them for a 1-year period. EVERYTHING changed for me when I decided to change this one thing.
It all started with overcoming my weaknesses involving certain foods, getting off of the mood stabilizers and antidepressants I had been taking for 15 years, gaining a sense of self-control, keeping simple promises to myself, and gaining confidence because I finally earned credibility with myself by consistently doing something INCREDIBLY difficult and challenging.
Some people have witnessed these changes and asked how I did it. They come to me for advice and they begin the life-long journey of improved health and life enjoyment for themselves. Other people feel disconnected from me and uncomfortable around me because they either believe that I think I am better than them because I refuse to eat as they do or they believe that I think I view myself at a “higher level” than them and they need to tear me down to “their level.” Some people are simply jealous and don’t see or understand the struggles I have with weight, food, inflammation, and pain. They don’t realize or see all of the months and years of consistent, hard work and sacrifice that has gone into becoming who I have become. Some people literally believe they can’t do the same. They make every excuse in the book not to, just like I used to for DECADES. Some people want to tempt me with foods or treats, or bring me down a notch, so that they won’t have to look at themselves and ask the question, “Am I doing my best?”
Truth is, it really sucks not eating whatever I want, whenever I want to. It sucks passing up all of the goodies and treats people bring to work or make during holiday seasons and birthdays. What sucks even worse, and what I continuously have to remind myself of, is the debilitating pain I experience when I don’t pass up the goodies and I splurge, lose control, and continue to splurge for weeks or even months. It is SO easy for me to falter and get back into those old patterns and the old ways of thinking that comes from inflammation. Sure, it’s delicious and I enjoy it immensely, but I pay for it. I experience heightened levels of inflammation, leading to depression and suffering symptoms of bi polar disorder. I gain weight quickly and the discs in my back begin to smash nerves, making it impossible to sit or walk comfortably. I’ve lost many jobs in the past because of the “uncontrollable” pain. The pH in my body changes and my immune system lowers. I get sick much more easily and I stay sick for weeks, and sometimes months. I notice a change in my brain chemistry, as well, and I am much more susceptible to anger, rage, anxiety, depression, and impatience. I lose self confidence. There is a noticeable decline in cognition, and I can’t think clearly. I make poor decisions because of it, and we all know that one bad decision can send us on a totally different trajectory in life, creating a whole different set of circumstances for us and our loved ones.
Luckily, the opposite is also true. None of these foods are things I am willing to consistently tolerate in my life anymore. None of these things help me accomplish the constantly, consistently improving, enriched life I want to live.
I chose to make some important, beneficial life changes which have enriched my life and the lives of everyone around me. It was extremely difficult at first, then became increasingly, exponentially, easier as I went along and continued on in this new lifestyle.
I no longer believe in diets. They are fads that are looked at as a temporary, not-so-enjoyable, painful experience used as a tool to quickly help us achieve an arbitrary goal before we can, “get back to normal.” An actual lifestyle change is much more effective, beneficial, and longer-lasting. I’m far from perfect, and I mess up sometimes, but I’m trying. My confidence is growing right along with the knowledge, skills, tools, tips, tricks, and methods I learn about and try to share along the way. It’s a struggle! It is supposed to be a struggle. It is so worth it to at least try.
The benefits that eventually come from doing the difficult things far outweigh the comfortable life of “ease” and immediate gratification.
This was not a quick transformation. Here is how I started after watching Fed Up on Netflix:
- I had already been taking the Q96 supplements and a multivitamin for about 6 months. The nutrients that came from this supplement helped me have more energy and think more clearly. Because of it, I had progressively been making better and better decisions. Consistency was key. Getting off of the mood stabilizers and the many antidepressants I was on helped IMMENSELY to lose water wait I had been carrying for years and to think MUCH more clearly.
- I cut out all sugars and carbs from my diet. I started paying attention to the labels on everything. Did you know they add a ton of sugar to milk? Did you know there are sugars and carbs in items they sell called, “Protein packs?” There is sugar in literally most things. Cutting sugar and carbs out is more difficult that you would think. I had to cut out all the daily donuts, sodas, Gatorade, Hostess pies and cakes, and so much more. I went through about 2 weeks of severe withdrawals. After two weeks, my body and pH adjusted and I felt energized! I had no more cravings! During that two-week period, I had extremely painful headaches, flu-like symptoms, extreme cravings, and a high level of discomfort. This is normal. Sugars and carbs are poisonous. One thing that helps with withdrawals is taking 4X the recommended dose of Amino Acids. Sugars and carbs literally feed illnesses and disease. Cancer feeds upon them. Alzheimer’s is now being called Type 3 Diabetes. This is what I ate for 6 months, every day:
Breakfast: 1 bowl of oatmeal with blueberries and a banana with unsweetened almond milk.
Lunch: 1 chicken club sandwich from Jack in the Box or two chicken tacos from Del Taco.
Dinner: 1 can of Costco chicken, broccoli, and white rice.
I only drank water and sugar-free monsters during this time. Anyone who knows anything about nutrition will look at this new meal plan I adhered to and laugh, but these were a huge improvement over what I WAS consuming daily before I decided to change my eating habits. Oatmeal, bread, white rice, and tortillas all have carbs and sugars. Sugar-free doesn’t always mean sugar free (there are many different kinds of dangerous, unhealthy sweeteners the label makers don’t have to legally call, “sugar”). Monsters, or any energy drink for that matter, I later learned the hard way from a cardiologist I had to see because of extreme heart palpitations, are dangerous and sometimes deadly. As I learned more about nutrition, I improved upon those improvements. Consistency was key.
- I began to exercise. At first it was only a 10-minute walk. I had to walk within a 100-foot area in from of the house in case I slipped a disc and had to crawl back. At the time I was in so much pain from a ruptured disc that I was only able to work as a cab driver once or twice a week. I had no way to get there, so I had to ride a bicycle to the bus stop (it was too far to walk to) and take two buses to where the cabs were kept. After a 12-hour work day I would drag myself into the door and recover for at least two days, in extreme pain, before getting back to work. The beauty of being a cab driver at the time was that they wouldn’t fire me if I couldn’t show up to work, as long as I worked at least 1 day a month.
At the time, I was completely disabled and had every reason to make excuses to listen to my doctors and go on disability, but it wasn’t the life I wanted. After years of believing it, I finally chose NOT to believe them when they told me that I could no longer work and have a “normal” life. I decided I would no longer play the role of a victim and no matter how difficult it was I was going to push through the pain and create the life I could create, rather than focusing on what the doctors said I couldn’t do. I decided to work hard to learn how to change my mindset. I decided to believe that if I could change my mindset it would change my life.
I began researching ways to strengthen my back. I learned about planks. I started doing them. At first, I could only do it for 10 seconds, so I would do 3 sets of 10 seconds. After a month I could hold them for 30 seconds each round!
I was able to barely do one pull-up. After a month I was able to do five. Six months later I was doing 20 in a row.
These were small improvements, but over time I kept seeing improvements! It built up my confidence levels and an excitement and energy that continued to grow. Consistency was key.
Within six months people were blown away at the results. I was blown away at the results. I was down to 190 lbs. I wanted to learn more. I wanted to continue to improve. My three sons watched this transformation slowly happen and watched the differences and improvements, not just in my body, but also in my behaviors and levels of success and wealth in every area of my life. They began to make similar changes and improvements, and began to exercise with me and eat what I was eating. It was such an incredible transformation. People who knew me were inspired and wanted these things for themselves. Those who saw me and knew me before this transformation knew that if I could do it, they could too. Anyone can!
Anyone can make small, incremental, daily, consistent improvements. We all know this, but few choose to do it. What’s the hold-up? What is the problem? If it is so easy to do, why do so few people do it?
It is easy not to do.
It takes almost a month to create a habit. Some research shows it takes some people around 70 days! We are all different, and that is why results vary. Once a habit is created, we can pretty much go on auto-pilot. The things which were once difficult to start and repeat become increasingly easier.
When you see others trying to improve in any way, are you going to be the type of person that tears them down or builds them up? Will you discourage them, or offer them encouragement?
Today I will help, encourage, support, and build up those around me. I know that by doing so I will continue to create deep, meaningful, fulfilling, beautiful connections with others and I will continuously create an environment which fosters trust, love, and kindness. I design and create the world I live in. First internally, then externally.
AS ABOVE, SO BELOW. AS WITHIN, SO WITHOUT.
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Remember: Mindset matters. Character counts. That which we choose to consistently focus on is what EXPANDS in our lives. WE CREATE our realities.