How Pigheaded Are You

This time of year we are all thinking about a new start in a new year.

Whether it be a new diet, a new fitness regime, sorting out finances or simply thinking about what we want to change.

My biggest problem with a lot of this is that I don’t always follow through on what I plan. My other downfall is that I never really fact check things because I believe I know better.

I often fool myself into thinking that I am doing things right and making changes, when in reality I’m not. To be blunt I can be a bit Pigheaded in thinking I’m always right.

Yesterday I had my first session of 2021 with my cardiac nurse and it was a bit of an eye opener. Over the last few months I was under the impression that some of the changes I had made where working.

In reality, these changes were only scratching the surface and were really just something that I was doing so I could tick a box. In reality, I wasn’t doing enough.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

Last year I made the move from drinking caffeinated soft drinks to the caffeine free options. I kept patting myself on the back and saying, yes I’m making the right moves.

My wife kept saying that I should really be cutting back on the amount of carbonated soft drinks I consume rather than caffeine content.

Me, being pigheaded did not take much notice and for that I apologise to her. I should know by now that when it comes to my health, she is usually right.

My visit to my cardiac nurse re-enforced that as my blood pressure is still very high.

I don’t want more medication and certainly don’t want it to get worse. This means I need to face reality and make some MAJOR changes and to stick to them.

So, when I woke up this morning I started looking at things on the net about drinks and what I can use to help me lower my BP. I had to accept the hard fact that if I wanted to see a difference then I needed to kick my habit.

After years of being addicted to carbonated soft drinks, I need to bin them and bin them for good. In order to do this, and to make sure it works, I’m phasing things out over the coming weeks.

There’s no point doing cold turkey because I know it will be more detrimental in the long run. By cutting back gradually on the bad stuff and by replacing them with some of the good stuff, hopefully it will stick with me long term.

So, its time for me to make an effort in making healthy shakes, drink more water, drink less soda and basically sort myself out. I know that only I can make these changes but with the support of those around me I can do it.

I need to listen to others who are there for me and just not dismiss them by thinking I know best.

If anyone has any recipes for smoothies etc, please feel free to pass them on.

Today my BP was 170/89 – hopefully I can get this down over the coming months but only time and commitment will tell.

Photo by Charlotte May on Pexels.com

Making 2021 Count

January is the time of year when we all make resolutions or goals especially when it comes to health and fitness.

We by new blenders, sign up to gyms, join online fitness and diet clubs and go sober for a month.

Bottom line is that most of this we do to tick as box in our brain that makes us feel better. What we don’t do is follow it through.

We need a goal, a goal that is perhaps out of our control and that we don’t have a say in. A goal that we cannot tweak when times get hard.

In my case its my heart and my blood pressure. They are off the chart just now and although can’t directly change it (there’s no magic pill despite the abundance of meds I’m on) I can “influence it” or “point it in a different direction”

That’s why I didn’t wait till January 1st to get things back on track.

I started it last year and whilst I did fall off the wagon in December, I needed that in order to help me get re-focused.

I’m not setting goals, I’m setting life changes that I want to reach.

My aim, get my blood pressure down and my heart ejection % up!

I’m back on the yoga trail, back watching what I eat and after I will be heading to bed for a good nights sleep.

I’m not going to try and do everything at once, that’s a sauce sign of failure. We all need to take it one day at a time so that it becomes part of our routine.

If it’s part of our routine then it’s more natural and that means we are less likely to fail.

But what if we do fail? What if we fall of the wagon.

I get knocked down, but I get up again, ain’t never gonna get me down!

I will add one final thing.

You cannot do it alone. You need some support, even if it’s just a friendly ear to moan to.

Find a group, a community that you can relate to and can be accountable to.

Once you find out that others faces the same challenges as you, then you see the light at the end of the tunnel.

You overcome the challenges and you succeed.

Take It In Your Stride

It’s fair to say that December has been a very challenging time for me.

Changes in my meds that had implications to weight abs general well-being.

Pivoting a business to make sure it sees 2021 and then being inundated with bookings for our online tastings.

Having fun another business that has been on full steam ahead since the March lockdown. I shouldn’t complain when others are finding things extremely tough.

And a third business that is growing faster than any of its founders anticipated.

All of this took its effect on my mental health with stress trying to creep back into my life.

My routine was mucked up.

No more early nights and early rides with long walks and pre dawn work routines.

I went totally off the tracks. I stopped recording my macros and felt as if all I needed was my comfort food

Remarkably I managed to keep my weight in check at least until Xmas. Then it was enjoyment over calories.

As I enter another lockdown of sorts, I’m already thinking about how I need to make changes in 2021.

Everything mentioned above affects my health and that’s what I need to prioritise.

I need to get back to healthy eating, more exercise and definitely LESS STRESS.

The biggest stress factor for me is work and I’ve come to realise that if I carry on the way I’m going, then it will kill me.

So as of tomorrow I will draw a line under the past month. I will start planning the changes I need to make.

I’m sure these changes will not please everyone but I need to do what’s best for my family and myself.

I’m remaining positive and looking forward to the challenge.

So I say – BRING IT ON

What Part Of My Journey Is About

I wanted to share this to explain what part of my journey involves.  In 2019 I was diagnosed with Severe Heart Failure. 

A massive shock to someone who has been relatively fit for most of their lives. 

After being on meds for months, in July 2020 an MRI scan showed that my heart ejection % was – 36%

In mid September I had signed up for a research program about a new drug that involved taking a series for ECG’s and MRI scans.

The study was aimed at anyone with a % below 40.

At my initial ECG they recorded an ejection fraction of 45% and increase (in the right direction of 9%).

The doctor said my meds must be working but they had not changed since the July MRU which showed 36%.

The only thing that had changed dramatically was my lifestyle:

  1. More exercise – at a level that suited me – gym workout, long walks, cycling.
  2. More sleep – increased from 5hrs per night to 7hrs.
  3. Better eating – not a diet but more about looking at what I was eating.  I watched my calories, watched my macros and still enjoyed a lot food I loved, including takeaways.  It was all about choices. I’ve lost 14lbs in 2 months
  4. Switched from caffeinated soda drinks to caffeine free (a big move for me, trust me).
  5. Less stress in my life – reading and listening to books by various authors showed me how to change my mindset.
  6. Family time – more time with the people I love and that love me.
  7. Supportive friends – people who don’t judge you.

All of the above, working together is what I believe has improved my health. I’ve still got a ways to go to get over that 50% marker though.

Life’s A Journey, So Live It.

So, I’ve created LinkedIn company page called Steve McKenzie’s Journey.

Why? No, I’m not being indulgent and self adoring.

Throughout the last 34 years I’ve worked in a number of roles, industries and businesses and there has been on constant.

ME!

The main business or brand I should be focusing on is me.

What’s my goal or purpose.

What’s my passion in life.

What have I been doing wrong?

How do I fix what it is broken.

After 52 years on this earth, I’m only just now looking more closely at myself, what I do, how I feel, who I love and what my purpose is.

In the last week I’ve been reading more, listening more, watching more and learning more about how to enjoy this journey we call LIFE.

Will I make mistakes, yes, I’m only human. Will I learn from these mistakes, you bet and I have done so in the past.

Will I be showing you or telling you about everything I do every minute of the day? Who knows?

If anything I post helps just one person, other than me, make a decision that impacts their life. Then I can live with the critics and the trolls and the haters (if I get any).

So folks, stay tuned, please keep following and comment as you see fit.

life’s a journey, so live it.

Why Should I Be Reading Your Blog?

That’s a really good question.

I could tell you all about the jobs I’ve had and what I did in each of them. I could show you my CV or resume.

Instead I want to share 34 years worth of doing things wrong, learning from it and then having another crack at doing it right.

I could tell you things whilst wearing my accountant’s hat, or I could tell you things whilst wearing my Entrepreneur’s hat.

Instead, I want to tell you why everything in my life is inter twined and has an impact on all I do.

I don’t want you to look at things from an accountant/business perspective. No, I want you to look at things from a life perspective.

The things we do in our everyday life can impact our decisions in business and over time I’ve began to see them as pieces of a jigsaw.

I always thought I should keep things separate and compartmentalised. Perhaps that’s the accountant in me.

Lately I’ve been more aware that I should be amalgamating them because they should be seen as resources. My skills in finance, my experiences of interacting with people at drinks events and so on.

My blogs will detail more on this as time goes on, but right now, why not “audit” yourself and see what resources you have that will work better together.

Hopefully we can all start to see how we can achieve what we want out of life and if some of my past experiences are able to help others that’s great.

For the record, I’m not a business or life coach. I’m just a guy who is happy to pass on his life experiences, hopefully for the benefit of others.

Please feel free to comment or drop me a message on anything I post as feedback is always welcome, good or bad.

Time For Change

When I started this blog it was meant to be about health and fitness. Or should I say my inability to keep both in check.

I’ve since realised that my life is not just two things. There are so many different facets to who I am as a person that I’ve decided to change the blogs approach (although I can’t seem to change the sub web heading)

Any way, I thought I’d start giving you an insight into more of me, my business and fitness activities and maybe some of my personal stuff too.

I’m not attention seeking but perhaps some of what I post might help someone else.

Perhaps it won’t – who knows?

Some might like it, others might hate it but it will be your own choice and I can live with that.

Here goes nothing……………..

Let’s do this

A Period Of Reflection

Over the last 10 weeks, I’ve probably done more exercise than I have in the last 12 months. News that my Cardiac Cosultant will love.

During my long walks I’ve started to think a lot more about my past and my future. In previous posts you will have heard me talk about how we hate letting other people down, but that we should not forgot not to let ourselves down.

I’ve looked back over the last few years, or probably more, and realised I have let mysef down.

When I was 13 years old I crashed my bicycle and went head on into a brick wall. If you are familiar with how Newcraighall Road used to look, there was a long brick wall stopping people from accessing the old coal bing. Well I hit the kerb and launched myself into the wall and we didn’t wear helmets in those days.

A couple of days in the Sick Kids Hospital with concussion and then fast forward a few more weeks and my first Grand Mal Epileptic Seizure.

Diagnosed with Epilepsy at 13 years of age and my world was turned on end. It’s stayed with me ever since.

My mum, god bless her, wanted to wrap me up in cotton wool. I wasn’t allowed to do anything on my own. Swimming was a worrying time for mum, as was any time I went cycling with my mates.

For years it dominated what I could and couldn’t do.

When I turned 18 my mum expected the seizures to stop as some half assed doctor had told her years ago that it might be linked to puberity and that I would most likely grow out of it.

I didn’t……………….

So, I thought “to hell with it, I’m gonna enjoy my life and live it”

I started karate in 1986 and loved it, I was focused, it was my world.

For 21 years I took control of my epilepsy and I’m a firm believer my karate helped with that. Be it a Zen thing or simply that I had better control on my breathing and fitness.

I stopped karate in 2008 and to be fair for the last 12 years have not really done anything that comes close to it. Dabbled here and there in different things, martial arts, golf, crosffit. Nothing really grabbed my attention.

The end result of my letting myself down:

Overweight (very)

High Blood Pressure (very very)

Cardiomyopathy (heart’s knackered)

Insomnia (night hawk)

Stress

The realisation that a lot of the above could have been prevented in one way or another. The main thing would have been down to my own self discipline.

So, in amongst me popping pills galore for epilepsy, high blood pressure and water retention, I’m trying to mend what I have broken.

How am I doing that?

Support from my family and friends

More exercise including two personal training sessions as week

Regular meetings with my Mindfullness Coach

Trying to change old eating habits and make better choices.

Going to bed earlier than I normally would

Trying to make make my way back to the martials arts that have given me so much to aim for and such discipline in the past.

Only time will tell if I achieve my goals and manage to improve my health, but I know if I dont so something about it now. I might not have a future.

Fall Down Seven Times, Stand Up Eight

As a martial artist I spent 21 years getting to love the culture of the Far East and it’s discipline. 12 years ago I stepped back from my role as a karate instructor but I never forgot what I learned and never lost my love of Japan and its culture.

In 2020 I started down a different path with learning about sake and no, not just how to drink it. My studies are still ongoing as the COVID outbreak has hampered them slightly.

However, it became a catalyst that awoke thoughts of yester year.

Days when I was fitter, healthier and more focused. Oh I know I was younger too and problably more capable of doing things at a higher leve, especially fitness.

But it got me thinking. Why can’t I be like that again.

Perhaps it’s too late to ever think I can step back onto the mats in a dojo. After all, how many times have I said that in the past?

Tomorrow I start a mindfulness journey that will hopefully be the first step to getting my house in order. Getting back to being focused, to having a good work life balance, to caring better for my family and to sorting out my health.

If lockdown has given me anything it’s time to reflect. With so much negativity going on in the world it’s essential to focus on the positive aspects of life. Aspects that affect your life.

You only get one shot in life so it’s only right to give it your all.

Will I fail or falter? Yes, at certain parts I probably will, after all I’m only human and not perfect. However I’m not going to let myself down, I’m going to keep pushing, keep striving and in the words of the Backstreet Boys – Keep On Movin (thanks Jojo).

There’s an old Japanese proverb that I have always liked and if you want a musical equivalent, check out my old competition theme tune “Tubthumping” by Chumbawama (lol)

#findyourpath #health #fitness #throughthework #cardiacrehab