This post includes many vulnerabilities, which is not easy for me. I have never shared this detail with my closest friends & family. However, one of the areas to continually develop and work on is my mental well-being - so here goes
Coincidentally, as I was building out this blog and thinking about what first planted the seed that grew into TIME Nutrition & Fitness, I met with a good friend, Paul Taylor (who also happens to be my financial coach and advisor). We started talking about the book he was writing, where he talks about a theory of modern-day evolution that evolves as follows:
Stage one: 0 - 18 years (survival, safety & connection)
Stage two: 18 - 40 years (individual identity, forging a path in life)
Stage three: 40+ (satisfying our souls, finding our purpose)
This theory made a lot of sense and resonated with me, as I could pinpoint where I was within this evolution, when the seed was subconsciously planted and which stage I wanted to be in.
By my mid-'30s, you could describe me as well and truly engrained in stage two, with no real thought, plan or strategy about life itself. Nevertheless, I had (somehow) managed to build a successful career in the corporate world, which provided me with unique experiences travelling the earth, working with global organisations, and engaging with different cultures working on leading-edge technologies. However, being responsible for multi-million-pound contracts, targets, budgets, teams and a lot of international travel also came with a side serving of stress, pressure, anxiety and what felt like constant jet lag.
Then if all that wasn't enough, the usual circle of life came along and before I knew it, I had a 4.2 family with a fantastic wife and two kids. Plus, the extra side serving of financial, well-being and moral responsibility that also comes with it.
This situation never worried or concerned me at the time. As challenging as it was, I was never unhappy or felt out of control; I've always felt blessed to have my career and family, and (fortunately) due to that career, we've never had any financial worries or ever wanted for anything.
However, I remember feeling that I was running on a treadmill, set on an incline and going at a pace that requires some attention to keep up. Oh, and unlike those well-maintained and safe treadmills you see in the gym - this one doesn't have a nice reassuring red safety clip attached to me or a big red safety button to bring it to a stop. So If I drop off the pace, it's spitting me straight off the back, it's going to hurt, and I'm going to do some collateral damage.
Which also made me think. "Mmmmm, there's a fair to middling chance this is not sustainable and might not end well". However, even with this in the back of my mind, I was still young and dumb enough to think life was a relatively smooth road with no major bumps or roadblocks I couldn't navigate. So nothing urgent was crying out to me.
Then, what I believe is the most impactful reason for finding my path to TIME happened. My wife & I found out our eldest daughter had a disability that would ultimately have a profound impact on her life. So if the above treadmill situation wasn't enough, I've got another considerable side helping on my plate of extra stress, anxiety and worry - that also happens to make best friends with jet lag and almost bring a complete halt to any sleep.
Realising that Alexa would unfortunately not have the same career and financial opportunities as others, I decided I never wanted the quality of her life to be limited by this. Neither did I want to pass any financial responsibility onto anyone else when we were no longer around. So it was time to face reality and figure out how we could achieve that.
This meant paying attention to my financial health. Dealing with my relationship with money and realising it was not money itself that was important to me, nor the material things. However, what money could enable!
This led to a period of research, brainstorming and financial planning with Paul to figure out how we could make that happen, which led us to build a property investment business. I am not proud of what I am about to share, but before this point in my life, at thirty-eight years and four months, to be precise - I had never read a book - yes, you read that right (except reading children's books with my kids). I got through school, college, university and the rest of my life without reading a single book.
I just never got into books, I couldn't sit still as a kid, I was not very good at reading and (although never diagnosed) I am pretty sure I'm dyslexic; uni professors even recommended I take a test, which I never did.
I had no choice, as I had to upskill myself and gain knowledge about property investment. This led me to pick up a book, which led me to Audible, which made me fall in love with books, and I consumed 76 books (and counting).
Consuming a wide variety of books, including ones on personal growth, also kickstarted some deep emotional thinking, and I started to pay close attention to improving my mental health and my purpose in life.
If you read this blog, you will get a good understanding of my background in sports and exercise. It's basically in my blood and something I've always done - However, I'd yo-yo between health and fitness goals and events. I'd go from incredibly fit and healthy to not very healthy.
However, when we were going through a particularly stressful period of diagnosis for my daughter, I got a sudden and profound experience of how powerful being healthy was in helping with my stress and anxiety. This then got me thinking about every other period in my life when I seemed to be in the flow, handle everything life would throw at me and perform at my best:
The most successful years of my career
The ability to build our property business in such a short time
The ability to handle the anxiety about my daughter's situation
The ability to be 100% present and attentive to my family
At any point through those periods, it just so happened that when I was also preparing for an event (meaning my nutrition and training was on point) - I'd handle the challenges, stresses, pressure and anxiety with relative ease.
And on the contrary, I could pinpoint the more challenging periods to when I'd be at the opposite end of the health curve.
Combine all these, and the lightbulb goes off - It sets me off on a journey to learn how to be fit and healthy consistently, 100% of the time. I invested in coaches and nutritionists, read books and listened to podcasts, but I couldn't find the silver bullet. So I returned to education, gained my qualifications and built my philosophy and methodology.
I'm not going to say I've nailed it, as this is a lifelong learning journey. However, I am now consistently fit and healthy and have been for a VERY long time. Holidays, Christmas, work & family commitments fail even to throw me off. Plus, even though I had never uttered a word about this journey to anyone other than my wife & two closest friends - people noticed. Even though for most of my life, I was in a fit and healthy state anyway. In doing so, they asked for advice and guidance, and I've coached and educated them through my philosophy and methodology - in turn, people noticed them and questioned them, and they would, in turn, signpost them to me.
TIME Nutrition & Fitness was born!
To finish, I'd like to show how hard it was to share. The night of the first draft (not publish, just draft)! Anxiety kindly paid a visit, as demonstrated by my overnight sleep scores: