I’ve Gone from Skinny, Sick and Nearly Dead to Vibrant and Energetic

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In my mid-20s I was stuck in bed for six months straight. The doctors had no idea what was wrong with me.

When I finally recovered from whatever it was, I went back to eating junk food and consuming large amounts of alcohol. I had to have a nap before going out on Saturday night. Even with a nap I’d start falling asleep at the nightclub while my friends danced the night away. Nothing made sense.

In 2015 I had a near-miss with cancer. Again, the doctors had no idea what was going on. The tumor the size of a golf ball lodged in my guts, scared the shit out of me. I decided to choose health and energy.

Now, this wasn’t some desire to eat healthy food and brag about it on Instagram by taking glorious filtered photos of every bowl of food I ate, inspired by Buddha, to make people feel terrible about their own lives.

What I wanted above all else was to have energy again. The kind of energy you have as a kid that allows you to run around the playground for hours as if it’s nothing.

Here’s what I did to go from anorexic, sick, and nearly dead to full of life and energy again.

Take a Walk like You’re Living in Japan

In 2011, I became incredibly frustrated with life. I’d tried everything to get my energy back and stop the destructive thoughts floating around my head.

The only thing I intuitively did was went for daily walks.

They didn’t help… at first. One night, before I left the startup behind that I loved very much (forever), I grabbed my old school iPod and went for a walk. I started listening to what became the first dose of self-help I’d ever consume.

The walk was supposed to last 30 minutes. I ended up walking late into the night, past midnight. I walked down the main road. I walked down the side of the highway. I was yelling loudly and chanting like the audiobook told me to. People came out of their homes half asleep and told me to shut up. I couldn’t hear them. I kept walking.

These late night walks became a thing. I used them to walk and listen to self-help stories. It wasn’t a success habit. It was a survival mechanism. Walking led me to new insights. Walks became a way to escape my reality and reflect. Walking became an activity to listen to someone else’s wisdom. Walking led me to the insights that saved my life.

Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said: “Every day, I walk myself into a state of well-being & walk away from every illness. I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it. But by sitting still, & the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill. Thus if one just keeps on walking, everything will be all right.”

Writer, Kaki Okumura, says Japanese people don’t go to the gym and exercise or do super cool CrossFit. They just walk. Walking created a different kind of life-changing magic for me.

Use walks to think.

Use walks to escape the voice inside your head that won’t shut up.

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Experiment with a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet

The three keys to this diet are:

  • Natural sugar (honey/dates) instead of refined sugar
  • Less salt
  • No oil (including Olive Oil)

I originally tried a vegan diet and realized most of my friends that were doing the same were kidding themselves. They’d think they were healthy, and they’d then go and eat a bucket of fried chips with high-fructose tomato sauce from Lord of the Fries and lie to themselves some more. They still felt sick, and many of them remained overweight.

I learned that the food you put into your body creates your energy levels. A whole food plant-based diet allows you to recreate your childlike energy levels.

Your taste buds change

Many people try and switch their diet and find it hard to do. Things don’t taste the same. I had the same problem. I learned that you have to allow your taste buds time to adapt. When your tastebuds are jazzed up on years of sugary drinks and fried food, a sudden change to healthy food tastes bland.

Now I’ve been off processed food for so long, a mango tastes better than any type of ice cream ever could. Even carrots taste sweet.

Restaurants are accommodating

People close to me have been reluctant to try a whole food plant-based diet because they go out to restaurants a lot. They’re worried there will be no menu options.

This is going to blow your mind: you can just ask the kitchen to meet your dietary requirements.

You may think asking the kitchen to cook you something that is whole food/plant-based would be annoying.

You know what chefs tell me? They love it when they get requests from customers like me. It forces them to think on the fly and come up with entirely new ways of doing things.

An ‘ask’ to cook a dish a different way is a chef’s dream. It gives them an excuse to improvise rather than follow the rules of the menu.

A lot of restaurants will help you stick to your diet. All you have to do is ask. You can even ring before your booking and negotiate what options they can cook for you if you want certainty.

Eat at home

Salt and sugar are how restaurants make food taste good. It’s every chef’s secret weapon.

If you want to eat better, all you have to do is eat at home. When you eat out you have no idea what’s in your food. When you eat at home you control the ingredients. And you save lots of money too. One meal out buys you like three home-cooked meals.

Eat for energy, not for pleasure

This was a subtle change to how I approached food. Your default way to eat is to eat for pleasure. You get pleasure through the taste of your food. A simple way to change your eating habits is to change why you eat.

If you select food based on how it makes you feel, everything changes.

You select food based on the energy it can give you, not the short-term pleasure of taste.

Get More Sleep than You Need

I was a serial under-sleeper. Getting enough rest will change your energy levels. I tried adding 30 minutes more to however much sleep I was getting.

I prioritized rest rather than let whatever time I had left over determine the length of time spent sleeping.

You need more sleep than you think.

You may be awake for 16 hours, but how energetic are you during those hours? It’s better to have hours where you feel alive, than lots of hours awake where you feel tired and like a zombie.

Give up Alcohol at All Costs

Alcohol dehydrates you. If there’s one thing you don’t want to do it’s be dehydrated. Alcohol is a great way to screw up your body. It silently ruins your insides and messes with your mental state. I was a tired, depressed little boy on alcohol. Marketing has lied to us and told us to drink alcohol to relax.

The truth is alcohol is poison. There are much better ways to relax and seek pleasure than alcohol which destroys your energy levels.

Drinking Water Stops You Being Dehydrated (Which Takes Away Your Energy)

75% of Americans are dehydrated. I, too, didn’t drink enough water.

When you’re dehydrated you lack energy and get headaches. All I did was replace canned drinks and alcohol with water.

Water is the liquid of life. Drink more of it.

Plug Everyday Energy Leaks

In 2011, I was full of energy leaks. I was like a walking, talking Titanic with a hole in my head, leaking energy all over the place.

Anger, frustration, shame, revenge, and things you can’t control in life will rob you of your precious energy.

I started focusing on what I could control. I chose to forgive those who wronged me even though they didn’t deserve it, so I could gain back my mental clarity and peace of mind again.

It’s not worth giving up your energy for petty things.

Myformer self was deathly sick — both mentally and physically. My bad health took me right to the brink of complete collapse. Thankfully, I made it out alive to tell the story, and perhaps, share a few things that helped me.

You don’t need to be sick and nearly dead. You can be energetic when you walk, eat a whole food plant-based diet, get more sleep, drink more water and plug the energy leaks of anger, frustration, shame, and stuff you can’t control.

Win back your energy so you can enjoy life the way it’s meant to be experienced.

Energy gives you the power to see the world differently and achieve the goals everybody tells you are impossible.

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