"Here's the punchline: If you get one percent better each day for one year, you'll end up thirty-seven times better by the time you're done. This is why small choices don't make much of a difference at the time, but add up over the long-term." James Clear
The Everyday father
Today, I consulted with a man who had just had a mild heart attack. He had recently got a new job as a general manager of an established business. He had previous skills, but like any new job, he had to learn quickly, whilst meeting the KPI's and expectations of his new role. Like most men, we try to do it all ourselves. The daily stress, overwhelm and lack of sleep slowly starts to catch up with us. This compounded on top of decades of lifestyle habits that left him a little overweight and a ticking time bomb to be pushed over the edge; mentally, physically and emotionally.
After reviewing his lifestyle habits and rituals, he ticked most of the boxes. He had a loving and supporitve partner. A young child that he spent time with each day. Before the mild heart attack, he went to the gym at 6am every morning to clear his mind and do something good for his body.
THE MILD HEART ATTACK - A SIGNAL
After the mild heart attack, he went from being on no medication to 10 different types. The doctors chose not to put a stent in, but rather focus on lifestyle habits and changes to get him back into a state of harmony. Personally, I am glad. We often over-treat and forget that these signals/symptoms are just the build-up of decades of habits.. Compounding in a downward cycle where the end result is that something is overloaded and stops us temporarily.
After chatting with him, I asked what his definition of success would be for 12 months' time. Currently, he could only walk 10 minutes before feeling heavy and breathless. A 10% improvement from the previous weeks. He mentioned that he would simply love to be able to walk for 30 minutes without feeling heavy or breathless. So we set a plan to walk each morning at 6 am, focussing on "pacing" back to normal function. He also checked his work emails first thing in the morning, so we set a plan to do that after he had invested an hour of his time into his own recovery.
I asked him what was creating the overwhelm and stress. It was mainly frustration that he couldn't do what he once did. He was worried that he couldn't keep up with the rigorous demands and expectations of his job. Many placed on himself, by himself. Overall the business had grown 20% since he started. His main challenges were building a team, training his new team, and delegating responsibility to others. So that he didn't feel like he had to do it all himself. So, I asked whether he listens to podcasts. He replied that he did occasionally. I suggested that when he goes for his morning walk, he listens to a podcast based on the challenges he was currently facing. We searched "building a team" and numerous podcasts from global leaders came up on Spotify. This way he could kill 2 birds with one stone to speak. Movement and the mind, plus work and learning.
ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSE
Lastly, I noticed that he was holding some extra weight around his belly and explained that this was the number one risk factor for an overloaded cardiovascular system. I asked him whether he had ever driven a car without oil in it. He replied that he had. The car got sluggish, heavy, and overheated. I mentioned that our heart works the same. The other biggest risk factor was not having water in the radiator. Dehydration is a key factor that makes the heart have to work harder to pump blood around the body. So we agreed to take a 1-liter bottle of water with him on his morning walk, with some lime/lemon, to ensure that he fills up the "radiator" each morning and ensures the blood can move with ease and flow.
The last thing we addressed was his food. I explained that eating a mostly plant-based regime, at least 80% could help reduce body weight and reduce all-cause mortality for cardiovascular challenges. Luckily he had already moved to this regime and had even trialed intermittent fasting in the past. So we agreed that he would remove coffee temporarily, focus on a morning juice (3 vege, 1 fruit), or tea. Drink 3 liters of water each day and ensure that he was hydrated. Oxygenation is the key to healing as well. Incorporating some deep breathing exercises on his morning walk was an easy fix for that. After he returned from his 30 minutes of "motion is lotion" walk, he would sit down with his son and eat breakfast in a way that we suggested above. 80/20. Avocado on wholemeal bread and a lean source of protein which didn't have to be eggs.
THE MORNING HOUR OF POWER PLAN
The premise was to work with what he was already doing and find solutions that fit in the context of his life. So here was his morning rituals plan
5 am - wakes up
6 am - beach walk: movement and mobility
- Drink 1 liter of water whilst walking
- Listen to a podcast on Spotify whilst he watches the sunrise
- Deep breathing exercises as he walks every 5 minutes along the journey
645am - Saturate with 80/20 meals. Swap coffee for juice and tea.
730am - Checks emails and gets ready for the working day
8 am - Starts work
6 pm - finishes work
Beyond 6 pm it was tools downtime so that he could eat dinner with his wife and child. Plus has quality time to spend with the people he cares about most.
Since he had already trialed intermittent fasting before. We added in two days, where he eats his first meal at lunch, rather than breakfast. Giving his liver, kidney, and pancreas a chance to filter the bombardment of 10 different medicines going into his body each day. He would simply focus on hydration, oxygenation and drink tea or vegetable/fruit juices that are high in anti-oxidants. The added benefit of this ritual is that he would start to reduce some weight over time too. Which would take an extra load off his heart, while helping regenerate and maintain his cardiovascular system.
Here is a simple and free tool to support your fasting days
From here, once we agreed on a plan. We simply agreed to touch-based once per week to review his progress and any challenges that come up along the way. All in all, the only thing that changed was that his hour at the gym was replaced by the plan above. Which meant that we didn't add further stress to his life. We simply, simplified what he had already been doing.
The last thing we did was have a chat with his boss and leadership team. They were already happy with his work progress. 20% up from previous months was a great start. They agreed to do what they could to remove stress and overwhelm from his work role, whilst he recovered. This involved supporting him in the lead of operations so that he could focus on what he does best. Rather than trying to manage finances, training the new team and learning his new role. Whilst keeping up with KPIs set by the business. The solution was simple. The leadership team, called on their facilitators to help him train his new team and improved onboarding processes. The finance team was asked to update and send him weekly financials on Monday so that he could focus on the operations and not the excel spreadsheets. The marketing team was called in to help him find new customers with a simple plan and promotions so that he didn't have to try and do it all himself.
THE END RESULT: SOLUTIONS FOCUSED
Within weeks, he started to improve from walking 5-10minutes per day to 20minutes per day, without the same level of tiredness and lethargy. The support from the business team reduced his overwhelm and stress. It allowed him to focus on his role and the business grew as a whole again. Everybody was winning and finding harmony. In health, business and life.
When he returned to see his doctor a month later. His blood pressure was normalizing within normal limits, his function was returning. The doctor decided to start weaning him off certain medications slowly. Today he is only on 2 medications from 10, with a hope to not need any in the future.
Lastly, his waistline started to decrease too. Which his wife was happy about!
For me, this is a common story. That I have seen all too much. I get the feeling that if we all learned to really listen to people and create a unique solution within the context of their life. That we can start to move everyone back to a sense of internal harmony. Which makes people healthier, happier, more connected, more fulfilled, and even more productive at work.
As a health professional, setting up this plan only cost me 2 hours of my time over 30 days. Once he was up and going, I became progressively redundant. Occasionally he would update me and let me know that things will still heading in the right direction. But that was it. He felt empowered, supported, and inspired to keep going. Because he was seeing changes in his energy and things that were meaningful to him.
The next step is to get him back in the gym, doing the heavy lifting that he once loved. But slowly, slowly. He understands that he needs to build by 1% per day. There are no quick fixes and it took him a decade of lifestyle choices to get here. So it would take at least 12 months to get him back on track.
EAT THAT FROG, OR LET YOUR WHY DRIVE YOU
I hope this story inspires you to create your own HOUR OF POWER each morning. Ultimately I have learned that how we start our day, determines how our day pans out. Whether you need to "eat that frog" as Brian Tracey suggests, or are simply inspired to do something that you love each morning like a surf or a run. We can model this plan and framework within the context of any life. With access to wifi and smartphone. We can also be learning anything, anytime, anywhere. Tuning into solutions from global leaders.
The point is that it's all there. If you need some inspiration to make a change. Find your why: why it's important to invest an hour in yourself each day, before trying to help everyone else. It might be a goal you are working towards or even just the smile on your child's face, and the thought of what would happen if you kept doing things the same.
CALL TO EMBODIMENT - 1% PER DAY ATTITUDE
If you need some motivation or inspiration. Reflect on WHY you are doing it. Many fathers have heart attacks and don't recover like this. Perhaps hearing this now will remind you that prevention is the best form of a cure. And you can do this without having to change your daily work schedule.
For people in pain, dysfunction, or disease. Imagine life if it stayed the same, versus what it felt like to feel normal once upon a time. Let the away from the motivation of the pain, drive you towards a brighter future. If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired. This is a simple way to start.
How to master your morning rituals in one hour
- Movement -motion is lotion, 30mins per day
- Mind - podcasts, or journalling
- Food - oxygenation, hydration, saturation
Put it in your calendar. Google calendar or whatever you use. Add reminders.
Do this right now..
We have done our best to reference everyone’s expert opinions, peer-reviewed science, and original thoughts, HIGHLIGHTED IN THE TEXT.
We also understand that most thoughts are not our own and there is a collective unconsciousness, unconsciousness, and universal mind stream of energy that is always at work. How are references are sorted and filtered is here.