It took me 27 years to look after my body.
I’ve done some stupid crap to my body. Nothing too outrageous, but I’ve drunk my way through more Bowler’s Run than any human being should. It’s nasty wine that costs literally $3 a bottle. It tastes like regrets.
I worked at McDonalds' for 5 years, 4 days a week, and ate a minimum of a double cheeseburger meal, 4 cokes and a sausage mcmuffin every shift. I’ve smoked, eaten like crap and rarely worked out in any meaningful way.
When I first started out as a creative and an entrepreneur, I was popping No Doz pills like tic tacs. They’re tablets that are supposed to keep you awake and alert, and I thought I needed them to get through 8 hour studio sessions recording music and working on my business until 4 AM. Never mind that the side effects were anxiety, nervousness, irritability and depression.
In general terms, I have always been very far from being a fitness fan. You know the guys who post gym selfies and love working out? Yeah, that’s not your boy Jon. Over the past 27 years, I can honestly say that I’ve treated my body as the opposite of a temple.
I used to think it didn’t really matter. I suppose a part of me always thought that sooner or later my life would magically change and I’d become healthy, and before that happened I was on a free pass to do whatever the hell I wanted to my body. I couldn’t see how it mattered. I couldn’t see how it could affect me if I wanted to eat a little more and drink a little more.
Looking back on it, it seems clear that it was affecting me in so many different ways. I was unproductive, prone to feeling exhausted all the time. I was often depressed and listless. I would swing between not being able to sleep more than 3 hours a week, and not having the energy to get out of bed in the morning.
It took me 27 years to get to a point where I started making positive decisions. It took me 27 years to start looking after my body.
I was in so many habits that I was barely living a few hours of my day with my brain switched on, it was all based on action/reaction. I started making small changes, at first. Trying to cut down on the soda, trying to drink less, being more conscious of my choices around what I put into my body. I finally picked up a Fitbit and began working on being a little healthier every day. Even those minor adjustments were incredibly difficult.
But the scary part was, I could feel almost an instant change. Some of it was mental — being aware of my decisions, and knowing I was making better ones, had an instantly motivating effect on me. I still struggled to keep to any commitments I’d made to my health, and I still fell down from time to time, but it was the beginning of my changes.
From there, it’s been a process of trying to add a new, healthier element to my life or cut out one negative element every week. I’ve been winding down on my junk food, I’ve stopped keeping beers in my fridge, I’ve been hitting the gym for 30 minutes a day.
I know I’m supposed to enjoy working out, but I hate it. I hate every part of it, every minute of it, and I make myself do it anyway, because I’m seeing results. I’m not trying to change my health around because I want to look a certain way, I’m happy being pretty average and not turning heads on the beach. Looking hot doesn’t appear on my list of goals.
My goal has been to feel like I can take on my days without go to pieces, and I’m getting there.
I’m sick of feeling tired and wasted and like everything is too much to handle. And day by day, that feeling is slipping away. All I want is to feel better. To feel more alive, and in control, and focused, and productive. To feel like I’m not going to keel over and die before I’m 30.
I think I’ve always put barriers up, around my health, because I’ve believed that only people who are incredibly toned and hot, posing with green smoothies can be healthy. That’s not even remotely true. But it’s an easy trap to fall into.
I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a lot more people like me out there. We’re not trying to be health gurus, and we’re living lives that are full of tough, day to day shit that we have to get through. We’re busy with our careers, kids, our responsibilities, our businesses, our art…there’s always a list.
When we see people who are motivated about their health, who are able to show lives full of smoothie bowls and kale, we’re not motivated by it. We’re kind of intimidated and demoralized, because it seems so unattainable.
Here’s what I’ve come to realize though. None of that shit matters, none of the stuff we’re told to think about, when it comes to our health, has any weight. What does matter is the way our bodies interact with our emotions, and the effect that our health will have on our lives in the future.
Because we don’t need to get up at the crack of dawn and do a million sit ups. We don’t have to be hot on Instagram, or be anyone’s #goals. If someone tells you that, tell ’em to fuck off. We just have to be healthy.
This cartoon from one of my favorite artists sums it up:
I’ve got a long way ahead of me before I can get my health and my body back on track. Correcting my patterns is going to be tough, but I believe I can stick to it. Because I’ve started to understand that my success and survival as a blogger, as a writer, as an entrepreneur — it doesn’t have anything to do with how I look. But it does depend on me being healthy enough to handle it.