Hello and welcome back…
So last Sunday you saw the picture, now for some context…
Back in 2001-2 I weighed around 119kg/262pounds…that’s severely overweight. ‘If’ being 15kgs over ones normal body weight is considered ‘being-obese’, then that’s what I was.
My blood pressure was fluttering around 150/90
Though not tested, I was probably pre-diabetic
Given my blood pressure at the time, I was most likely also suffering metabolic syndrome
And psychologically…well that’s where the fun really started
Why Doesn’t Anyone Tell You You’re Looking Like Shit?
My ballooning weight and ill-health prognosis was ironically juxtaposed against what one would consider a “successful” career.
I was, on the surface of it all, doing very well. I had a prestigious gig that paid handsomely, had a swanky pad in the ‘The Rocks’, and I enthusiastically ‘enjoyed and partook’ in all the offerings and trimmings one would associate with high income, single living in post Olympics Sydney.
However, amongst all the so-called ‘glamourous-living’ ..there was one major glaring issue that kept rearing it’s head…I was really fucking miserable…possibly even depressed…definitely addicted…and most likely depressed as well.
So, to cut a long story short, I had extraordinarily profound life-altering ‘epiphany-moment’ in Melbourne hotel room.
It was straight after this, what was to be, a “life-changing-experience” that I made the bold, not bald, bold decision to give up the one thing that I had not only loved, but was bloody good at…both in terms of my love for quality-plonk, but also I had ‘quite the capacity’ to boot…gotta love those Irish genes
So I gave up my pal, my buddy, and what I later realised was, my sick friend…alcohol
Well simply, and somewhat crudely…I was sick and tired of constantly…
Looking like shit
Feeling like shit
And worst of all...‘Thinking’ like shit.
Meaning my internal narrative, that voice in my head (we’ve all go one right? please say yes) was just flat, negative, self-destructive, self-sabotaging, joyless and totally uninspired… it was like a negative feedback loop on automatic-repeat, like cognitive-muzak and I could neither stop or pause.
‘ I was either drinking myself into a depressive state, or trying to drink myself out of depressive state.’
The other sobering-reality-check I gave myself was the very possible likelihood of dropping dead before the age of 55.
Or, and even much worse in my opinion, making myself very ill and living, however many years that I had left, incapacitated with immobility, or a chronic illness, or lifelong psychological disorder….or a combination of all three… which seems to be currently trending both nationally & globally.
Chronic Illness In Australia
[arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, mental health conditions, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease]
1 in 2 Australians (50%) have at least 1 chronic illness
3 in 5 Australians (60%) aged over 65 years have more than 1 chronic illness
Around 9 in every 10 deaths are associated with chronic illness
Alcohol not only destroyed my health, but made me a fat-psychological basket-case at the same time.
It (alcohol) had turned me into someone else.
I was not me.
The (unconscious) choices I was making for myself, under alcohol’s duress, provided me no benefits what so ever.
I was my own worst enemy
The enemy is a very good teacher
– The Dalai Lama
Astonishingly (still surprises to this day me how I did it) I did not drink a drop of alcohol for 12 months…not a drop.
(Spoiler Alert: I relapsed…a few times)
So what were (and still are) the outcomes of 12 months of complete sobriety?
– I lost 29kgs…just from no alcohol, i did not train or exercise. I’m sure though that my dietary choices improved along with my sobriety.
– I had a shocking realisation that I wasn’t an extrovert – I later realised I used alcohol to fuel my capacity to tolerate crowds, social occasions, business entertaining etc
– I fell off the social radar – both at work and elsewhere…that in itself is both a crippling & (a later) growth experience, and probably both a key reason for either relapsing, and why people don’t give up in the first place…that daunting reality to consider.
– I fell in love with early mornings – as I do today
– My wardrobe didn’t fit me
– ‘Everyone’ complained because I was ‘now boring’, but in the same breath, the very same individuals, also complimented me on how well I looked.
It seemed that they’d prefer to have fat, sick, sad Luke, rather than slim, healthy, happy, optimistic Luke. No one ever said “Luke you’re getting a bit fat bro”, but they did feel completely at ease and comfortable saying “jeez you’re fucking boring.”
A comment that I gladly still get to this day.
Gladly? Yes, because it reminds me that my life isn’t lassoed around alcohol anymore.
Sobriety Brings With It A Desire For Self-Care
Eventually, by around month 10 or 11 I started to a have ‘feeling in my loins’ and a desire to (no, not like that…my Mum reads this!), to move and, gsus…dare i say, get fit and healthy…???
I started to naturally reclaim Young Luke again – energy, outlook, my virility & vitality returned, mentally speaking – curiosity and a desire to seek returned, whilst intolerance to habits that made me feel and think like crap naturally escalated...my innate self-preservation-mode-kicking in?
However (<—see, it’s big however), the greatest thing that sobriety afforded me has been my capacity to (‘want to’) constantly improve the quality of my problems.
Firstly, the reality is, with every choice we make, there is a corresponding obstacle, hurdle or problem that comes with that choice.
i.e. Choice: your decide to drink. The Problem: you’ll get a hangover. Outcome: feel like shit, talk like shit, eat like shit, think like shit…
Choice: you decide to improve your lean muscle mass: The Problem: you have train. Outcome: Stronger, healthier, fitter, happier…
Choice: you want to change your career: The Problem: you need to up-skill, or re-skill. Outcome: Higher income, greater job satisfaction
I’m simplifying here…but there are 2 choice-categories – as in two states-of-mind where your choices manifest.
1. Conscious choices – clear, sober, reflected, calm & considered choices
2. Unconscious or subconscious choices – fatigued, irrational, distracted, emotional, impulse driven, alcohol or drug fuelled influenced choices
‘It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters’
The subsequent ‘problems and hurdles’ associated with your conscious choices will, if faced and overcome (‘the process”) will actually provide you with a life-fulfilling *ROI. Getting something done, overcoming a challenge and achieving our goals creates a sense of accomplishment & pride, you’ve learnt something…you’ve progress and you’ve added another ‘feather to your bow’. And…you’ll be motivated and inspired to challenge yourself again…with better quality problems, again…of your choice.
With our unconscious choices , the subsequent ‘problem and hurdle scenario’ paints a very different picture. The ROI of your choices will not only be minimal, but will actually ‘impact’ your current state of mind and health. It will further compound whatever struggles you’re experiencing. Not only that, it will only stimulate the contrary behaviours to be repeated – because your self-esteem, your internal narrative and motivations are kiboshed.
[*ROI – Return on Investment]
Sober conscious thinking allowed me to view the enemy within – to learn from it, reclaim me again, and thus continue to move forward and have the resilience to get up again and again after each relapse, or subsequent set back, fuck-up or hurdle that came my way…and will come my way in the future
The enemy of our innate creative life-force of ‘who we are’ is ‘distraction’.
An all-encompassing term for what Freud called the Death Wish – that destructive force inside human nature that rises whenever we consider a tough, long term course of action that might do for us or others something that’s actually good.
Distraction has many attractive and beguiling guises, who’s only powerful M.O. is to instal ‘resistance’ & procrastination.
– Over consumption, both in terms of eating unintelligently or buying constantly needing to buy ‘stuff’.
– Being busy
– Constant desire to move, travel
– Cognitively – self-sabotage, self-dramatising, passive-aggressiveness (one of my favourites), self-critical, self-judgement (against others)
– Ego unleashed
– A slave and inability to unplug ourselves from our iPhones & devices, social media, porn, TV, Netflix, video games.
“…the truly free individual is free only to the extent of her/his own self-mastery.
While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find master to govern over them…”
Alcohol was my primary-distraction, that insidiously habit-stacked a host of other destructive behaviours that manifested resistance & procrastination. Once i managed, after a very long bumpy and confronting road, to relinquish it’s grip, I then had less resistance to continually seek and overcome lesser distractions, and challenge-change…that continue to implicate my life to this day.
Take Control of Your Choices
This is why I always champion sobriety (or your primary-distraction) first and foremost for anyone who wants to attempt to implement quality change to their state of existence.
Most of us have two lives.
The life we live, and the unloved life within us.
Between the two stands resistance
-The War of Art
Coaching / Advice
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Till next time…