I turned 54 last week. This was a special birthday to me, because there was a time when I did not expect to live this long.
When I was 28 I had heart problems that landed me in the Cardiac ICU at the Cleveland Clinic. While they tried to get my heart rate under control, my cardiologist introduced me to several older men who had the same arrhythmia, but it had not manifested in them until they were older… and they both nearly died on the spot the first time it happened. I remember him telling me, “you will not live as long as these guys did if you don’t take better care of yourself.” I asked the one guy, “How old are you?” 54. He was 54 and he looked like crap.
At the time, I was overweight, stressed, and had “too many” negative medical indicators. Ugh.
So my ‘scared shitless’ story took root, and I changed my life, one little habit shift at a time:
- I became disciplined about working out. At first it was twice a week, then three, and eventually five (that transition took 10 years).
- I lost weight.
- I started watching what I ate, and over the years became a low-carb, meat-free, fresh-foodie (with a dark chocolate addiction on the side). I did not become a vegetarian overnight — I got there by dropping one food at a time, and adding new foods gradually.
- I dropped my cholesterol by 80 points and normalized my blood pressure through diet.
- I cross trained, did Jazzercise, swam, ran, and lifted heavy things. Since I”m easily bored, I used variety in my workouts to keep myself motivated.
- I started noticing my self-talk, and gradually re-wrote all my ‘stories’ (still workin’ on this today!)
- I started studying happiness.
- I nurtured my optimism.
- I took up yoga (five years ago) and then meditation (three years ago).
And yet…. I realized just last year that I’ve been holding – for many years – the story that “I could die when I’m 54.” And I’ve been (quietly yet definitely) scared to turn 54.
And now, I’m here. And it’s not so scary after all.
And I got here one tiny shift, one new practice at a time.
And, my dear reader, that’s what I hope for you. You can change your life, Choice by tiny Choice.