How many of us have grappled with low self-esteem depression or used food as an emotional crutch?
My journey from a life marked by these struggles to one of purpose, health, and fulfillment wasn't easy, but it was transformative. Hear how I overcame my obstacles, reshaped my mental health and physical fitness, and found my 'why.'
This episode promises to inspire reflection on your life and help you discover your personal 'why.'
In my darkest hour, I realized a downward spiral had brought me where I was, and only I could turn it around. I adjusted my mental inputs, prioritized relationships, and started daily physical exercise.
This discipline resulted in a healthier lifestyle and a flourishing career.
Understanding your 'why' becomes a compass, guiding you to make better decisions and live a more prosperous, fulfilling life.
So, join me for this heartfelt discussion, and let's embark on this journey of self-discovery together.
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Chapter 2. Discover your personal why. So why do we, or should we care about all of this anyway? What's the point of getting fit or sharpening our mind? Well, let's revert to those questions for a minute. Put simply, what's the point of not being healthy and fit, of not being mentally sharp? Why would any of us not want to fulfill our potential? I believe that the 5S fitness, family, faith, finances and fun are the cornerstones of happiness and of course, we all want to be happy. The trouble crops up when we focus on short-term goals rather than thinking about life as a whole. We get lost in dealing with our day-to-day schedules, chasing immediate gratification or just reacting to whatever life is throwing at us in any given moment. But once you start to widen your focus to your whole life, those walls and roof all start to matter a lot. If you have kids in your life, watching them grow can be a powerful reminder of how this time ticks by. When we're dealing with our own lives day in, day out, we don't notice the passage of time so much. But there's nothing like a wonderful wake-up call of witnessing your children develop new skills and learn new things. Who wants to look back five years down the road and suddenly say, hey, what the heck did I do with the last half decade of my life? Having a passion or a deep-rooted sense of purpose helps you to guide the choices you make. Even big decisions become much easier to navigate, eventually becoming more consistent with the plan you have for life overall. Time still passes, of course, but you don't and won't suddenly wonder where it all went. Of course you have to have flexibility prepared to adjust your plan. From time to time. Things change along the path of any journey and we all have to re-root when we run up against roadblocks or speed bumps. But even course, correction is much easier to deal with when we're in line with our purpose, passion or beliefs and when we have a clear sense of our direction. In the end, it's all about being intentional, about what you want to get out of your life. What are the experiences you're creating for yourself right now that will become the stories you would tell later. Will they be stories you're proud of? If your life experiences are ones that you're truly happy to shout about and can look back on with pride and satisfaction, they add up to a life well-lived. My why my personal why is all about connecting with people, whether it is my family, my friends or my tribe. This drive for connection to others underscores my very being. It's a vital addictive source of enjoyment in my life. I get a huge kick out of being able to help others become healthier and happier. This gives me my joie de vivre. It makes me jump out of bed every m-. The more people I reach, the greater the impact on my online community, as other leaders invariably emerge to carry forward this fitness movement like ripples on a pond. For the past several years, my whole family has come to the gym with me bright and early on Sunday mornings to teach an awesome group of people keen to learn the whole life fitness manifesto way of being. Hundreds of people have attended these Sunday Fund-Aid events, helping me to realize my goal of improving the lives of as many people as possible. These weekly events are like beacons of light that remind me of my purpose. My personal why can be brought down to I'm here to help people live happy, healthier, more active lifestyles while developing richer, deeper and more meaningful personal relationships with themselves and their friends, families and communities. How it all started, my own personal why is deeply rooted in my past, as a more politically obese teenager when I was 9, my parents announced they were divorcing and it rocked my world. Until that moment, I had thought I had the perfect life, so I struggled hard with this traumatic event. Suddenly, all I wanted to be was wanted. At that time, only one of the child at my school had separated parents, which added extra social stigma to my experience. I withdrew from friends, from family, social outings, life experiences, and tried to fill them with food. Our family dinners were well rounded, but outside of mealtimes I was a junk food junkie. Food was my crutch. Very quickly I developed a bad habit of reaching for more snacks than I should, choosing burgers, fries and other garbage that barely landed on my stomach before I wanted more. In hindsight I can see I was making choices without really understanding why I made them. I was on autopilot, just acting on an impulse to soothe my turbulent emotions. I certainly didn't offload those calories with anything even approaching an active lifestyle. Blame it on too much playing video games or too much lounging in front of the TV, combined with the lack of education around where my sedentary lifestyle was heading by the time I reached puberty. My frame then, about 5'6'' in height, weighed in at over 200 pounds with an over 38 inch waist. The usual emotional and physical upheavals of adolescents made the situation even worse. As anyone who is or has been overweight knows, there's a stigma that comes with being large. People can be cruel, but teenagers downright vicious, and they're ridicule. My peers found it hard to even look me in the eye and I was well aware of their snicker behind my back and even right in my face. I understood. I avoided looking at my own body when I stepped out of the shower. I wore baggy clothing in an attempt to camouflage my protruding belly At Schwartz man. I've never wore those, no matter how hot the weather might be. I said no to everything. I attended pool parties where I would have to wear a bathing suit, no way. I participated in gym class, out of the question. What was school dance? No, thank you. I'd simply avoid anything physical, leveraging my asthma as an excuse to opt out. Through these lifestyle choices, I soon became freighted with low self-esteem. I approached rock bottom, feeling depressed and isolated. I could admit now that I even had suicidal thoughts, and then one Sunday morning, decided to do something that I usually avoided I looked at my reflection in the mirror. Up to that point, I was able to pretend that things weren't as bad as they were, because I wasn't looking the problem in the eye. Denied, denied, denied. Me Facing up, however, I broke down in tears. I never felt so low in my life. That moment, experiencing epiphany. I really didn't like where my life was going. I knew that deep down I enjoyed life At least I had enjoyed it before and I wanted to enjoy it again. I faced a simple choice to remain this way forever or do something about it. So I picked myself up and I deliberately shifted my poor me attitude. In that moment, I recalibrated my motivation, I reasoned my way to a decision and then I made a change. I hit the library, forwarded over books on health, nutrition and fitness. Yeah, my kids laughed at this when I told them that I went to the library. Yes, this is pretty Google, I'm dating myself. I started eating a little less and moving my body a little more. I started slowly with Walking Daily, then Mountain Biking. I strapped on my cassette player yeah, I know dating myself again with a tape playing on Endless Loop A went to side B, wynch went back to side A, and so on. I'd ride until I had exhausted both the tape and myself. Only then would I ride. I had more and more daily activity, incrementally, eventually joining the gym. Over 14 months, nearly 18 months, I was transformed. This time, adolescence itself was on my side as I shot over a 6'1" it's a big growth. Sport that definitely helped me burn more calories. My weight didn't change that much just to qualify that, but I did see body fat melt away as new lean muscle mass appeared. Now with a better understanding of the science and biology of health, I know that my physical changes came from a combination of cardiovascular and resistance training. I strengthened my body, increasing my lean muscle, which cranked up my metabolism, my body's natural furnace. I felt stronger, healthier, more confident in my abilities to tackle whatever physical obstacles stood in my way. Rather than saying no to pool parties in gym class, I started asking people to join me in activities. I felt good. I was alive again. I've never gone back to that state of obesity, but I don't forget what it was like. This helps me to relate to my clients who face weight challenges. I know how it feels when people stare at you. I know what it's like to be out of breath from climbing a flight of stairs or to have difficulty with something as simple as tying your own shoes when you're struggling physically and really struggling physically. Sometimes it's the littlest things that seem the hardest to do. This describes you right. I want you to know that you're not alone and that it doesn't have to stay this way. Phase 2 of Finding my why. In the years that followed, everything seemed to go in the right direction. In 2001, I met my life partner, christy, and we had two wonderful daughters. I achieved success in my business life as chief operating officer and founding partner Fittestown, a chain of fitness equipment stores in western Canada. I also became a level one CrossFit coach of a popular strength program and conditioning program called CrossFit. But I reached a pivotal point at age 32, when, despite having a wonderful family, strong physical fitness and some professional success, I felt untethered. I had become obsessed with physical fitness and while that meant I had achieved my goal of weight, I hadn't done anything to heal myself emotionally and spiritually. I was carrying a lot of baggage, lots of emotional scars from various times in my life, especially when I was at the morbidly obese team, the underlying issues that I hadn't dealt with. So I strayed from the very things that should have brought me the most happiness. If I look at my life in terms of the 5S, I can easily see why my house was crumbling at the time. I was physically and financially fit, but I wasn't paying enough attention to the state of my faith or my family. I was a fractured person on a downward spiral, having little fun, and this cast a shadow over my entire life. I was depressed, disconnected, felt like I was headed for a midlife crisis, and I wasn't anywhere near midlife. Even though I had lost all the extra weight of the teenager, I was still burdened by shame and guilt. I still saw myself as unattractive and unlovable. So when I started becoming successful, I binged on other people's attention. I craved validation from others because I had felt deprived of approval for so long. I neglected and disrespected my family and myself. It was Christy who brought me back to what was important to me. I saw that I didn't really need approval from the whole world and that this kind of attention would never satisfy me anyway. What I really needed was a steady and secure connection with the people most important to me my wife and my daughters. Christy has always seen me. I saw something or something hit me. You know that I couldn't see myself. She saw me as the man wanted to be and helped me choose to be the person, similar to the epiphany experience when I was 15. I realized that I was the only person that could really turn my life around. I Started by taking an inventory of my life at that moment. Now let me just say this is not an easy task for anyone. It takes brutal honesty and a willingness to explore past choices and past travel, whether the outcomes were good or bad. This exercise is not meant to create stress, anxiety, guilt or regret. It's simply an exercise to recreate the roadmap of our life in order to understand what has brought us to where we are today. Through understanding our path, we can gain valuable insights to help us better navigate or change our course. When I had a wint, this exercise of introspection, I felt much like Dorothy exposed in the Wizard of Oz, behind the proverbial curtain. I had erected many facades to portray myself as what I believed to be a success. I worked long, hard hours as I chased a professional title and recognition, but often at the cost of my family and friends. My physical mental health suffered with the added pressure of the expectations I had set for myself. With no outlet for my mounting stress. I continued to withdraw and immerse myself in my work, thinking that would make me feel better. But I was wrong. Admittedly, I was very proud of my work ethic, which I had learned from my parents, but without stability and balance in my personal life, the walls of my house bowed like blades of grass in the wind. Something had to change. In retrospect, I don't look at my decision to pursue my career as a mistake, but more so as an opportunity to learn what is important to me At that moment. I made a decision to put my family and personal health ahead of my career. Over time, as I committed to daily physical exercise, I found it that my health improved and my stress decreased. I spent focused time with my wife and daughters every single day, no matter what else I was doing. They came first, and you know what? My career advanced. I found I was even more productive at work because I knew that I had to maximize my time on the job. My mindset has shifted full 180 degrees and I now cherish time with family and friends along with my daily ritual of physical exercise. One of the first things I did to get back on the positivity train was giving up alcohol. I had started to use booze to calm myself. It was my numbing agent when I felt the responsibilities of life bearing down on them. It was easier to uncork a bottle of wine or crack a beer Than it was to deal with the things head-on. I knew that my habit for reaching for the bottle was connected to my feelings of unhappiness, since I was actively trying to create more happiness in my life. I had to make a choice. I made my decision and made it known to my family, friends and co-workers. It was a very challenging transition, an awesome one that I will forever be glad I made. Of course, it can be tough to deal with life stresses at times. That never goes away. But knowing what I feel and knowing that I feel those stresses for everything that they are, is far better than feeling them Finding Faith. The process of healing really began and covered my own personal faith. Maybe it's because I majored in philosophy at universities. I tend to ponder over the same questions such as why am I here? What's my life all about? What can I do to make the world a better place? And finally this is the big one Is this all there is? Now I realized that the things I wanted to gain in life didn't match my daily habits. I was saying one thing and doing something completely different and, to make matters worse, I was bitter at the world for not giving me more. No matter how much success I gained, I never felt satisfied. It was like having an appetite you can never satiate. Something that's both debilitating and demotivating at the same time. I knew that I wanted to focus on my personal relationships as well as my relationship with myself. Additionally, I took control of my own mental inputs or the information I received through books, tv, social media and other mediums. I could choose the types of messages I wanted in my mind. I began deliberately filling my head with positive messages books, popular TED talks and the teachings of influential world leaders such as Nelson Mandela, abraham Lincoln and Mahatma Gandhi, just to name a few. And you know what happened? I became more aware and appreciative of the people that made up my communities, both online and offline. I soon saw that I needed to share what I had learned and to give back to those I wanted to help and, most importantly, those who wanted help. And that was it. At that time, with the positive influence on my wife, I made a conscious decision to put others first Soon. After my external voice began to sound more like the one in my mind, many things started happening in my life and the lives of those around me. My faith is not set in religion per se, but is founded on a sense that there's something in each of us that wants to give. If we acknowledge that we are lucky to live in a country where we have freedom and where we can lead a life of our own design and offer a hand to a fellow human being, we can make this world an even more amazing place. My why is my purpose, and it provides a filter through which I can weigh my daily choices, actions and responses. My faith lights me up from within and gives me intention for how I want to live my life. Whether I'm writing a blog entry, posting an update to social media, calling a client, coaching a Sunday funding class, serving a customer, helping my family, I do it with 120% enthusiasm and pure, genuine excitement, and I believe that the exercise of self-discovery of your own personal purpose can bring you your why, along with infinite joy and satisfaction. Finding your why, finding your own why, is the most important factor to achieving long-term whole-life fits, and it's important to remember that that's going to look different for everyone. Everybody needs to explore their own particular reasons for becoming fit and make the decision to follow through. It all boils down to feeling as well as fueling the desire to make change and then doing it. So what do you need to ask yourself? There's a reason why you started looking for answers, whether in this book or elsewhere. Respect that impulse. Perhaps it's centered on your physical health and vitality, and that's great. At the same time, examine whether there's another issue in your life that you want to make better, be it a situation in your family, your finances or your faith. What motivates us for life? Think about why fitness matters to you. Your primary motivation might be appearance, or it may seem that way at first. Do you want to return to the weight you were 10 years ago? Do you want to look good? In the beginning, people have a remarkable number of whys when they start a fitness program. These goals relate to superficial, top-layer desire, but once you start to peel that back and dig in, you'll find that there's a lot more going on. I'm not saying we should reject the desire to look good, just that when we look beneath that layer of motivation, we will always find something deeper. When I survey the people I have coached, I find that what drives most is desire to create a more fulfilling life. If they're considerably overweight and they're closed to a fit, they don't feel confident in themselves. When they feel winded by going up a flight of stairs, they're not having fun Mentally, they're exhausted all the time and they want it to stop. For others, such as those who have suffered heart attacks or who have life-threatening illnesses such as diabetes, the why might be a basic desire to live. For some of us, the deeper motivation stems from a desire to support a healthy relationship with our romantic partner. Christie and I are strong believers in the same. Couples who sweat together, stay together. In my work, I've met a lot of accomplished business executives in their 40s, many who are once football or hockey players who, but who are now 50 pounds overweight. Their daily choices over the past decade have taken them a long way from their original lifestyle, usually to a detriment of their fitness. Luckily for them, they often remember how good it felt to be strong and to move freely without discomfort or pain. So they have both an existing appreciation as well as a compelling argument for what fitness can provide. Naturally, they want to tap back into that sensation of personal health For these clients, the sheer pleasure of active, the why? Maybe your goal is to achieve better cardiovascular fitness so you can have an active retirement? The reality for many of us is that we can't travel as much as we like when we're in our prime and midlife years. We work full time, we have families to provide for and older parents who need our time and energy. If you want to be able to see the world you retire, you'll need to be fit and healthy when you reach that age. Whether your idea of great travel experiences rise in early to watch the Lions room freely while on safari in Africa, or stripping down to your swimsuit to wallow in warm Caribbean waters you'll get more out of it if your body is optimal state of health. Even to achieve optimal health is undoubtedly solid reason to exercise. Now I know that people have different ideas of what optimal health means. For me, health is about feeling good. It's being able to function and move about freely, to play with my kids and feeling able to try a new sport or activity without worrying that I'll injure myself. I like the idea of being able to say yes to anything physical, knowing that I'm not limited by my state of health or fitness. If you're really struggling to find your why try to embrace the process of discovery. Start by analyzing your current fitness habits, your general approach to health. Where can you make a small but sustainable shift? How much water are you drinking? Are you getting enough sleep at night? How much time do you spend moving your body each day? Do you exercise at all? Do you play any sports? What do you typically eat? It's all about making little, everyday choices that will improve your health. If you're feeling beaten down by your current lifestyle, start to feed your brain with positive messages wherever you find them. It's amazing how often someone else's idea, passion or vision can trigger a feeling or impulse inside you. If you're inspired by an event or activity that you read or heard about, go try it. You might surprise yourself finding that what was once un-firm and difficult becomes something that you really love. Start walking a little Doesn't have to be very much, just something. Get off the couch, walk around the block. Do it today, not tomorrow. I know that when it comes to health and fitness, it can be scary to try something new. I've seen many people so used to being overweight or out of shape that they can't imagine any other way of being. Some folks have lived longer in an unhealthy state than they ever did in a healthy one, so they forget what it's like to feel good. But you have to remember just because this is how it is now doesn't mean it has to stay this way. Change is possible. In fact, when you connect with your why and commit to following through, I can promise you that change is inevitable. This applies to all your goals, not just around physical fitness. Where is spurting you on Dream big? When I talk to new clients, I always ask them two questions. One what do you want to do? Two is that all? The second question is meant as a challenge. Of course, that's because I don't believe in settling for too small a vision or how good life looks. We are all taught to have impoverished dreams for ourselves and to think buying things will make us unhappy. I flip this on his head and I say shoot for greatness. That is be. Don't buy happiness, be happiness. Just remember you're not alone. Sometimes, success requires us to be humble enough to know that we can't do it all by ourselves and to reach out for others to help. Now, this is true for everyone, so don't be afraid to ask. Now I know many people, mainly men, who like to rely on digital shortcuts, google Maps, anyone rather than ask for help. But you know the most amazing part about turning to each other Most of us actually want help. In our super independent society, it's easy to forget that as human beings, we are programmed to care how finding why helps you. As you start to feel better about yourself, life will turn a happy corner. Perhaps you'll enjoy supercharged energy levels. Maybe you will handle stress better or notice your metabolism working faster. Your life will be filled with good vibes and move along with a sense of bounce. You will think more about the health and wellness and, naturally, make better food choices. As your energy improves, it's going to be easier to attain your goals, because you will have the drive and power to push yourself. You'll know what feeling better is going to free up so much mental energy and give you the capacity to enjoy all aspects of your life. So what's going to fill your bucket? Once you have an idea, then it's a matter of constantly making choices that keep it nice and full. Let's discover a cold action. Let's all start in a sense of discovering each other, starting with your why is what will drive you forward and give you actual motivation to stay focused on your goal? You made the decision to pick up the whole life fitness manifesto, or listen to this recording of it. Now you face this decision, this big decision, to actually put into action.