It’s crazy how many times I’d said this to myself over the years. If I had actually put off everything that I wanted to do until after I wasn’t sick anymore, I would never have done anything.
If you’re sitting there feeling like you can relate all too well, I want you to know right here and now that it’s ok.
Don’t beat yourself up.
You can do everything that you want to do, and maybe even appreciate it more than you would have otherwise. And most importantly, you don’t need to wait until you’re not sick anymore to do things.
I’ll give you a few small examples of things that I’ve said. You might chuckle at the simplicity of some of them, but it goes to show how often we take the littlest things for granted.
When I’m not sick anymore, I’ll…
- Travel. Because then I won’t have to pack supplements, worry about where to eat, or risk bringing down my travel partner.
- Get back in the weight room. Because then I’ll be able to train far more intensely, without fear of my body breaking down.
- Clean-shave with a blade-razor. Because then I won’t have an inflammatory reaction far more intense than any razor-burn.
- Walk outside on a brisk autumn day without much more than a sweater on. Because then I won’t have thyroid-related symptoms like cold intolerance and will be comfortable without a jacket on.
I could go on, but I think you get the idea.
I’ll put it to you as plainly as I can. These thoughts have stunted and crippled me at various points throughout my health journey. And if we’re being perfectly honest, they’ve all been excuses.
Addicted to Comfort
The same way that a drug addict is addicted to the high, I’ve found myself at various times addicted to living within a comfort zone. It’s called a “comfort zone” for a reason – it’s comfortable.
But like excess amounts of anything, too much comfort can leave you feeling less than alive.
Back in my early 20’s, I can recall shaving with a blade for the first time in a long while. I was nervous to see and feel the reaction that I would have on my neck and face. I treaded cautiously and with precision, doing my best to not nick myself.
I won’t lie, it wasn’t great at first.
But then this crazy thing happened. I did it again. And then again. And my concerns and fixations diminished with each passing shave.
Back then, it was never a painless experience, but it stopped bothering me once I modified my expectations and chose not to dwell on it. The key word there is ‘chose.’
We all have choices.
You can choose to avoid ladies’ night out because the restaurant that the group is going to likely doesn’t have anything on the menu for you.
You can choose to avoid going to the beach because you’re waiting for your body to regain the shape that people had previously come to expect from you.
You can choose to wait for your ‘old self’ to return.
You can choose to attend ladies’ night out and make the effort to politely get the restaurant to accommodate your needs.
You can go to the beach and love yourself as you are.
You can choose to embrace your current self and make the best of your present-moment situation.
As a huge basketball fan growing up, I got to see Michael Jordan make his return to the NBA with the Washington Wizards in 2001. Unfortunately for Michael, he wasn’t competing against the top stars of the next generation. Rather, he was competing against his younger, more athletic self.
If you measure his two seasons in Washington up against his tenure with the Chicago Bulls, they were a failure. But measured on their own, they were a huge success. He generated more revenue for the franchise than it had seen in the previous decade. The team sold out every single game for those two years. He broke several NBA records. He played in back to back all-star games. I could go on and on.
The point is that a huge portion of overcoming your health challenges comes down to adopting the right mindset. It’s great to set goals for yourself by remembering where you were once at, but it’s also important to make the most of your current moment and situation.
Lessons Learned From My Grandfather
My grandfather taught me more about living in the current moment than anyone else. He experienced many tough times throughout his life, always tackling them head-on rather than waiting for the storm to pass.
At the age of 82, he went into the hospital for quadruple-bypass heart surgery. This, in and of itself was a huge risk for a man of his age and physical state (he had beaten colon cancer just a few years prior).
The surgery itself was a success, but upon completion, new complications arose. He was admitted to a recovery unit next to a patient who was unknowingly infected with c.difficile. This led to a week of hell where we thought we were going to lose him, as his body was shutting down.
Eventually the doctors discovered what was going on and he was rushed into emergency surgery. The result was him having to live with a colostomy bag for the rest of his life.
When he finally came to his senses, I asked him if he was angry and resentful toward the hospital about how things turned out. The answer that I got blew me away.
He was grateful. He was so happy to be alive. To see his family. To be able to smile. To be able to laugh.
I likely wouldn’t have handled things as well as he did. But that singular experience made me want to take advantage of each and every moment as it was happening. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
Over the next six years, until he passed away in 2013, he experienced various health setbacks. They never prevented him from laughing, enjoying life and doing the things that he wanted to do. Believe it or not, the guy managed to date SEVERAL women after this. Talk about being comfortable in your own skin!
If you’ve convinced yourself that your situation doesn’t allow for living in the moment, think about my grandfather. My dad used to get calls from the assisted living facility that my grandfather lived in, complaining about how they would have to clean up the mess from his bursted colostomy bag. This would occur while my grandfather was getting intimate with his girlfriend. Seriously. I wish I could make this stuff up. All I can say is good for him!
If this doesn’t signal to you (in a slightly nauseating, yet very humorous way) that anything is possible right in this exact moment, I’m not sure how I can paint the picture any clearer.
Rome wasn’t built in a day – but you can start with one small brick and it’ll add up quickly. Try doing something simple that you’ve been putting off.
Get your hair blown out.
Accept a lunch invite from an old friend.
Put yourself out there, outside of your comfort zone. You’ll feel alive, I promise you. And feeling alive is a crucial component of health recovery.
You could eat the perfect diet and be on a perfect sleep pattern, but if you’re miserably unhappy, you’ll find it very hard to physically feel improvement.
Your health journey doesn’t define you. Keep your eye on the prize. The prize is happiness, not health. Health is simply the vehicle that gets you to your happy place.