By Member of the Month
This month we have the honour of sharing Ed’s story. After reading about Ed’s experiences, we think you will be inspired and encouraged with your own health and fitness goals.
It was a day that that I want to forget yet it is also a day I need to remember. Back in July of 2015 I was sitting in my doctor’s office for a follow-up visit. It all came crashing down when my doctor asked me this very simple question: “How are you doing?. Suddenly reality hit. I broke down and began to cry. I was done, the tank was empty, and I had nothing left to give.
There had been some warning signs that I was sliding downhill and I did make some healthy adjustments but mostly I kept travelling down the same old road. Years of an unrealistic pace that I had set for myself combined with an overwhelming increase in workplace stress and constant need to push myself had finally got the best of me. My memory began to fail, and it was getting harder and harder to concentrate. Confusion was beginning to be my constant companion. I couldn’t sleep, I was exhausted. My frustration at not knowing why and how to stop what was happening to me led to fits of anger and paralyzing fear. Everything hurt. Systematically I began cutting myself off from the world and became fearful of leaving the house. My body was in so much turmoil that it ate me up emotionally to the point where I ended up being diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression. With the addition of poor nutrition and lack of sustained physical activity it was now the perfect storm. I had high blood pressure, my weight was getting out of control, and I was setting myself up for a heart attack. I had finally reached the harbour that I never wanted to sail into the first place,, and I was at the bottom.
The next year of my life was very difficult. Despite desperately wanting to get better and being proactive on trying new ways to improve. my body wasn’t responding the way that I had hoped. Yoga classes, floatation tanks, group therapy, hypnotherapy, and walking all had various degrees of success at some point but every time I tried to do a little more I ended up relapsing which only added to the constant pressure I felt to get better. It was a wild rollercoaster. I was getting great medical support but western medicine is geared more to treating the symptoms rather than the cause, usually with medications that for some have side effects far worse than the original issue. I was a member of that group. There had to be something better out there, I just hadn’t found it yet.
With a referral from my family doctor I joined LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic on October 31, 2016. I met with the CEP Kelli prior to joining and after speaking to her I knew that this was the right time but more importantly the right place for me. I needed a program that was structured, supportive, well-rounded, but also one that would protect me from myself. Most importantly, I needed to feel safe. This was it! I committed to three times a week, M-W-F at 7 a.m.
The initial fitness evaluation at LIVE WELL was a real eye-opener and crucially important. This is your starting point, nothing more, nothing less. From those results the LIVE WELL team started to build my exercise routine. I fully committed to the program and slowly started making other healthy lifestyle choices. The start of my journey was tough but with determination and guidance I made it through those tough times and am now well on my way to a happy and healthier future.
It’s been nearly 11 months since I started this journey and thus far I have lost 50 pounds, cut my blood pressure medication from 20 mg to 5 mg per day, embraced a healthy lifestyle, and made significant improvements to my well-being. There are some things that I may not be able to do anymore as I still have some cognitive issues that I deal with daily but some of them have improved and I am learning to accept and deal with the others. Without the guidance and most importantly the outstanding support of everyone at LIVE WELL (especially Kelli, Samantha and Callum) I would not have gotten my life back on track and I will be forever grateful.
Following are a few things that I have done to help me on my journey:
Goal setting is important. It doesn’t have to be big but it should be something reasonable, meaningful to you, clear, and specific. Frame your goal in a way that sets you up to succeed. Early on I had set a goal for myself to walk a certain number of steps in a day. The first day that I didn’t reach that goal I felt defeated and basically gave up the rest of the week. My solution was simple. I took my daily goal, multiplied it by seven, and now made it a weekly goal. By doing it this way I ended up surpassing my original step goal and was consistently increasing how much I walked.
Creating my initial Health Vision as part of the LIVE WELL program was hard but looking back at it today I feel a certain sense of accomplishment. Breaking this down further into 3-month healthy habits and weekly action plans has been one of my cornerstones to moving forward. Be honest with yourself and adjust as needed.
Much to the chagrin of some, I track everything. I find that this keeps me motivated, accountable, but more importantly it enables me to see what is working and what needs attention. The first thing I do when I wake up every morning is put on my Fitbit. Wearing it on my wrist is a reminder that I need to move and I use this to keep me on track. The second resource I use is a food app called Lose It. This program is fantastic for tracking what you eat. My Fitbit also links to it. The initial program is free but I upgraded to the premium version which allows me to scan in any barcoded food to input the nutritional data. It’s easy to see the breakdowns of fat, protein, and carbohydrates or more specific if you need to. This program has really helped me improve my nutrition, spot potential issues, and make sure that I don’t eat too much but more importantly eat enough.
The more you know the better equipped you will be to succeed. Take advantage of what is available. Read the weekly LIVE WELL health coaching tips, ask questions, take the Choices nutritional tour the clinic offers, and attend seminars. Keep growing. I have a few websites that send me emails everyday on health-related subjects but the one that I find the best is Greatest.com.
Listen to your body, if you don’t who will? Nourish it properly, feed it whole foods, give it the exercise it needs, pamper it when it asks for it, and make sure you give it ample rest. Stay hydrated. Be kind to it and yourself. It’s never too late to make changes. Embrace your wins and learn from the things that didn’t go so well. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself. Grow a little more and move consistently. We’re here for the long haul so try to find some joy everyday.
Thank you to Ed for sharing his tips and insights! Ed reminds us all that it is so important to celebrate your WINS, be KIND to yourself and to find the JOY every single day.