I used fitness to help me through a very difficult time in my life. In March 2012 I was treated for alcoholism, and one of the ways I recovered was by focusing on my fitness. Instead of changing the way I felt by drinking bottles of wine, I used exercise. By focusing on my fitness, and getting my dopamine hit from exercise and movement, I was able to replace bad habits with new healthy ones and radically change my lifestyle.
Alcohol might not be your thing, but many of us have a vice that we would love to overcome or moderate. Fitness can help you do this. In fact, I can’t overstate the power that fitness and exercise has for building resilience and changing how you feel about yourself and the world but in a very healthy way. Here are some of the life-changing benefits of fitness that I’ve personally experienced.
My health is excellent. I rarely get ill, and if I do it’s low-level and doesn’t last long. I check my cholesterol, iron, liver performance and vitamins D3 and B12 every 3 months using a self-administered blood test from one of our partners (see below for details). Usually all the markers are in range, although cholesterol was high on one occasion and I worked on reducing this and sure enough, the next test showed it had come down again.
I put my good health down to my fitness – the habits and routines I have around sleep, mental health, energy, body composition, digestion and fitness; what we call the Six Signals®. To me, fitness is holistic and not just about exercise.
Physical fitness leads to greater emotional, mental and spiritual strength. Feeling strong is an amazing feeling. Not only does it help functionally – you’re able to lift heavy bags off the carousel in the airport, move furniture, lift children and so on – but you also feel able to take on more in life. Strength helps to protect us from injury and reduces the risk of illnesses. It means we can do things like play sport, take part in activities and socialise in a healthy setting. Everyday tasks like shopping, climbing stairs and walking become easier.
Your world opens up
My world literally expanded when I became fit. I said yes to more things, I felt capable of more and I started to push the boundaries of what I thought I could do. Fitness can take you places too – I’ve been to Scotland and crossed from the East to West Coast on foot in a two-day event; I’ve run up (and back down) Snowdon in an event called Man Versus Mountain and I’ve run the London Marathon 3 times which is basically like running through a massive street party with an electric atmosphere. I took part in an epic event called the Arctic Circle Race, which was 160km cross-country ski race where competitors are self-sufficient. It was a 3-day event and easily my biggest challenge so far, and raised over £10k for Alzheimer’s Research.
Confidence and resilience
When you become fit, you go through a lot of emotions and usually difficulty, both physically and mentally. Getting fit requires you to dig deep, connect with your why and continue even when you find something challenging. Your mind will tell you to give up, convince you that this isn’t for you, or sabotage you with negative thoughts. You overcome all that and prove your monkey brain wrong – this is a huge confidence boost and develops resilience. If you can get used to being uncomfortable and in your discomfort zone, this is a skill that can be applied to other areas of life, such as work situations or life problems like financial difficulties.
The feeling of being fit
Ultimately, there is nothing like the feeling of being fit and strong. I maintain a consistent level of fitness, which means I exercise regularly, move often, pay attention to my sleep, have non-negotiables around my nutrition that mean I maintain a good body composition and have the energy I need to do what I want in life. It is paramount to my happiness that I feel fit. I’m not interested in the aesthetics of fitness, purely the functional and the mental. It leaves me fit for the rigours of running a business and ready to face the challenges life throws at me.
What’s Your Health IQ?
Discover what your Health IQ score is based on the Six Signals™: sleep, mental health, body composition, energy, digestion and physical fitness. Our simple diagnostic tool will help you understand where you should prioritise your efforts.