48 Years, 48 Lessons

Rumor has it…I’m turning 48 tomorrow. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

1-It’s a boring topic to discuss, but the older I get, the more the quality of my sleep matters. Do all you can to prioritize consistent, restful sleep. 

2-I’m fortunate that every day I have an opportunity to do a type of work that I love. If you don’t love what you do, at least allow it to provide you a style of living and downtime that you do love. 

3-I don’t believe that life gets markedly less stressful or less busy. I think successful/happy people have better tools to manage stress and have excellent time management. 

4-You can do without a lot of things in life but your health isn’t one of them. Make sure you’re keeping up with routine, annual bloodwork. Be proactive.

5-We don’t live a life that affords us the luxury of being weak, not in mind or body. Nurture strength in yourself.

6-I’ve made an insane amount of mistakes in my life. Many of which could have killed me, left me destitute, or leveled my business. I’ve also spent a great deal of time, money, and effort on self growth to repair those mistakes. This work is invaluable. If you’re able, keep putting the work in on yourself. 

7-As technology continues to evolve, don’t lose sight of actual human contact. No amount of self checkouts and automated services can replace a warm body and warm voice to connect with. 

8-If you don’t want to rely on things like willpower and motivation to get you to your goals, make promises to yourself that you can actually keep and reduce temptation by any means possible. 

9-Some relationships in life are meant to be outgrown. If you find that certain people in your life empty your bucket more than they fill it, that’s probably a sign. 

10-I think the conversations about younger generations not being committed to quality work and effort are overstated. If you want the younger generation to do and be better, show them where they have purpose and allow them to show up for themselves. It’s not a perfect process, it’s a worthy one. There are plenty of people of my generation and older who care little to nothing about self worth, growth and values. 

11-Other people’s opinions DO matter but the opinion that matters most is the one you have of yourself. 

12-Don’t ever stop learning, don’t ever let complacency win. Even if you can’t afford to buy a new book or take a new course, there’s a library close to you with free resources to help you. Use it. 

13-No one ever prepared me for how deep and profound losing my father would be. As of this writing, he’s been gone almost 13 years and sometimes that loss is harder now than it was back then. 

14-If you weren’t lucky enough to have great parents and they did not “raise you right”, if you’re an adult who can work and pay your bills, you have an obligation to right their wrongs. 

15-On that note, trauma is a very real thing whether it’s “Big T” trauma or micro-traumas that add up over time. Spend the time to find a quality therapist who can help you manage and heal that trauma before you bleed all over people who never harmed you. 

16-Whether you diet or you don’t, your body will always perform better if you feed it higher quality food. You don’t have to be perfect, just find ways to improve from less nutritious to more nutritious. 

17-With rare exception, if your diet has a name, it probably won’t work for you long term. And if you’re of the lucky few who is an exception, please don’t make the mistake of assuming that because it works for you that everyone else should be doing that diet as well. That’s like assuming we should all be performing the same job just because you found one you’re good at. 

18-I’m not a card player but I do know this: You’ll never have a winning hand if you keep playing the victim card.

19-When was the last time you looked someone in the eyes and told them you love them? Scratch that, put this list down for a moment and do that.

20-I own a business that thrives through word of mouth referrals. If you’re a current or former client of mine who has referred family or friends to us, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You’re the reason we can keep the electricity on and I can pay my staff.

21-Life is too short to be unhappy. Life is too short for shitty cookies. Life is too short to not surround yourself with people who remind you that you are loved, appreciated and respected.

22-You can be in disagreement with someone without being disrespectful to them.

23-Time and again, I have to remind myself that if I find myself wanting to judge someone for their choices, there is a very good chance I’m allowing myself to cast stones from a glass house. If you don’t want those stones to land your way, this reminder can help.

24-I support my family by coaching others: either via strength training or nutrition coaching. At risk of taking money out of my own pocket, some people need a therapist more than they need a personal trainer/nutritionist. If you can afford both, by all means, do so.

25-The more I learn, the dumber I feel. I’ve spent more money on continuing education in the last 3 years of my career than I have in many years prior combined. No matter how many certifications I get or letters I can add to the end of my name, I will never feel like I know enough.

26-Music heals a lot.

27-Drink more water. Drink less caffeine and alcohol. That doesn’t mean you can’t have them. I love my coffee and I love my bourbon. But the latter two pale in comparison to my water intake. If you’re into the numbers, it looks something like: 100 oz of water a day, 10 oz of coffee, 2 oz of bourbon.

28-This year marked the first year I started to get into hiking. Wow. I missed out on how beneficial this is. I don’t know much yet and I haven’t covered enough mileage to be commended for it but the “green therapy” of being outside on those trails, to climb across massive rocks (without being a ‘rock climber’) and to take that deep belly breath of outside air is unlike anything I’ve experienced. I’ll be doing more of this in the future.

29-Sometimes it’s not what you hear, where you hear it, or who you hear it from, it’s “when” you hear it that advice (which you’ve likely heard a bazillion times before) actually has the appropriate impact. Make sure you’re listening.

30-On that note, a little piece of advice I heard this year which I desperately needed to hear and apply was this: “Everything is energy”. You have a choice in deciding if you want that to be positive or negative energy. It applies to relationships, finances, and personal health.

31-Express gratitude wherever you can: “Thank you for holding the door open for me”, “Thank you for loving me”, “Thank you for sharing that with me”, “Thank you for your friendship”, “Thank you for not judging me”, “Thank you for accepting me.” I continue to marvel at people who are in a constant state of gratitude and I strive to be more like them.

32-I’ve never been poor but I’ve often been broke. Being broke is a painful reminder that priorities are not in alignment with values and goals. This applies to having a broken spirit as well.

33-I’d like to thank Dr. David Deckert for saving my life literally and Dr. Collin Myers for saving my life figuratively.

34-It’s mind-blowing to me that businesses don’t openly cater to members of the LGBTQ+ community or to BIPOC. I won’t disparage another business further but I will say that their loss is our gain. At RevFit, whether as a face-to-face or online client, those individuals will always be welcome with us.

35-As a component to that last thought, every day someone takes their life because they don’t: A) fit in B) are not accepted for who they are C) are bullied for who they are. Your words matter. How you raise your children to speak to those around them matters. It could be the difference between someone living and dying.

36-If a book about health/dieting becomes a bestseller, approach it with caution. Most of these books succeed because they have great marketing behind them, NOT because they are scientifically accurate. The things that have been “proven” to work for improving health and dieting successfully without losing your mind in the process are unbelievably boring. It’s really hard to sell millions of books when the best you can offer someone is: drink more water, have a good movement practice, lift weights, eat mostly nutritious foods, reduce your stress, hire a therapist, and get quality sleep. That’s it. That’s the “hack”. Everything else is noise…and noise sells.

37-Yes, some people will treat your kindness as a weakness. Be kind anyway.

38-You don’t need another diet, you need much more effective coping skills.

39-These days, it’s easy to grab a tripod and your phone and take a great picture. As often as you feel it’s appropriate, hire a professional photographer. This was one of the best things we’ve done for our family in quite some time.

40-I try my hardest to find the silver lining in everything. The worst events that have ever occurred in my life all have a silver lining to them. They all have something positive to be gleaned from them, even if the experience itself was painful or traumatic. If there’s any wisdom in growth and maturation, it’s trying not to be the cause of those events.

41-If no one has told you yet today, I’m proud of you. Keep making the little steps towards the goal you’re aiming for. Speed doesn’t matter, momentum does.

42-If you surround yourself with “yes men” and people who are simply around to agree with you, you’ll never grow. Find people (and hold them close) who can offer a different perspective and understand why they see things through that lens. You won’t appreciate growth if it’s handed to you on a silver platter without one lick of resistance to stand in your way.

43-It’s not just life that changes, it’s everything in our lives. You don’t raise your teenage children with the same tactics as you did when they were in preschool. You don’t perform your job after 10 years with the same skills you had when you first started. You need new skills over time for a better marriage, a stronger body, and for managing your self talk. Expect change and prepare for it.

44-Many of the fitness professionals you follow struggle with the same things you do: depression, anxiety, negative self talk/body image, etc. They may have found a way to use exercise and food as an outlet and tool for self improvement but they’re still struggling. It’s helpful to remember that we’re all human, we all make mistakes, we all find self-management challenging and we’re all trying to get a little bit better each day.

45-Is the grudge you’re holding still worth it?

46-Having a standing appointment for a monthly massage can be a game changer for you. Find a therapeutic masseuse and schedule the next year out. You can thank me later.

47-I’m very fortunate to have survived the patch of my life where I thought suicide would win. Not everyone is that lucky. If you’re struggling, shoot me a message at [email protected] I’m not a therapist and I will still encourage you to find one but I at least want the opportunity to tell you that: I’m proud of you for being here, we need you to stay in this world, and let’s get you some help so that you finally have some hope.

48-Everything I have in this world is because other people have given me the opportunity to thrive and succeed. I have accomplished nothing of merit by myself. This should speak volumes about the importance of your support system. Thank you to everyone who has stood by my side over the last 48 years.

(Photo credit of Allison Ewing Photography)