The Mind-Body Connection
- Joshua M Brown
- October 29th, 2011
So I've decided not to be such a fat fuck anymore.
I'm 34 years old, 6 foot 2 inches tall and my weight fluctuates between 230 and 245 lbs on a regular basis. The fluctuation is probably as unhealthy as the total pounds.
This past year I've used the fact that I'm writing the book as an excuse for both overeating and not exercising. As far as excuses go, it's a pretty good one as I've spent a superfluity of time seated at a computer unlike anything the non-author could ever possibly imagine - but it's still an excuse, nonetheless.
Like many people, I am not satisfied with how I look and feel and I need to make a change.
The thing is though, there is another reason that goes beyond physical health and vanity as to why I'm finished with my fudginess. It has to do with the Mind-Body connection that I've begun taking for granted as so many of us do. It is a real thing and can be a huge factor in determining overall happiness, professional success and quality of life.
Last fall I lost 30 pounds in two months after a crohn's disease-related hospitalization. I was in the best shape of my adult life for a span of three or four months, running between three and six miles at a clip several days a week, sometimes in the pitch black of a 20-degree December morning, sometimes at 9 o'clock at night out of sheer restlessness. My energy was boundless and the chemicals in my brain were firing like the Fourth of July.
And in that time I did some of my best work ever. The creativity that took hold of my mind during the 21st minute of a 40-minute jog led to some of the most intense insights and realizations I've yet come across. Each workout led to more incremental progress in my overall understanding of the world around me and how I wanted to exist in it and take advantage of it. And at times, the incremental became breakthrough, the chisels laid aside so that the battering ram could be brought to the fore.
In that time, I had made incredible strides in my asset management practice while simultaneously turning TRB into one of the ten most-read financial blogs on the web. It is no coincidence that I was also eating better, lighter on my feet and consistently stimulating myself with naturally-produced adrenaline and endorphins. It is no coincidence that I was taking in very few toxins into my system then and sweating out what few did make it past the gatekeeper. It is not a lucky thing that the determination I stoked inside to get to where I wanted to be physically happened to have spilled over into my professional life. These things all work together. Health, strength, determination and achievement in the physical arena cannot help but produce the kind of mental state that leads to success in all other facets of life. I learned that firsthand a year ago...and then somehow, I let myself forget it.
That period felt like a personal renaissance, a time of unparalleled growth, an awakening. And I want it back.
The question becomes the following:
"Can I find the balance between managing my financial advisory practice, exercising regularly and eating well, completing and launching my book, spending time with my family, keeping up my media contributions (both writing and appearances) and authoring The Reformed Broker blog while still finding time to expose myself to the new books, music, art, activities and meetings that have helped me remain a dynamic, well-rounded person?"
The answer to that question, as I turn it over in my mind, is quite simple actually. Because I come to the realization that:
"If I do not exercise regularly and eat well, then I will never have the energy, verve and creativity that make all of the other priorities on my list worthwhile and well-done."
This of course leads to the following rhetorical questions:
"What kind of father and husband will I be if I come home from work and collapse into a heap on the couch?"
"What kind of media appearances will I be subjecting people to if I arrive on their TV screens with three chins and a pasty-white moon-shaped face, slouching in a director's chair, sputtering out answers between off-camera gasps for breath?"
"What level of success can I expect out of the book if I am too tired or uninspired to go the extra mile required to promote it?"
"What must prospective clients or business partners think of me when my physical appearance denotes a lack of self-control and how can I exude more confidence when I am thinking about how I'm regarded in this way?"
Teacher, cancer survivor and blogger Andrew Hallam looks at the five "Blue Zones" in the world - the places on the map where people tend to live the longest:
- Sardinia, Italy: One team of demographers found a hot spot of longevity in mountain villages where men [often] reach the age of 100 years.
- Okinawa, Japan: Another team examined a group that is among the longest lived on Earth.
- Loma Linda, California: Researchers studied a group of Seventh-day Adventists who rank among America’s longevity all-stars.
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: The Nicoya Peninsula was the subject of research on a Quest Network expedition which began on January 29, 2007.
- Icaria, Greece: The April ’09 expedition to the island of Ikaria uncovered the location with the highest percentage of 90 year-olds on the planet – nearly 1 out of 3 people make it to their 90s. Furthermore, Ikarians “have about 20 percent lower rates of cancer, 50 percent lower rates of heart disease and almost no dementia”.
Residents of the first three places produce a high rate of centenarians, suffer a fraction of the diseases that commonly kill people in other parts of the developed world, and enjoy more healthy years of life.
The characteristics shared by Blue Zoners:
- Citizens are involved in their communities. Human interaction is paramount. One on one relationships are vital.
- Plant-based diets transcend a reliance on meat.
- Continual exercise
- Fewer people smoke
- Family is prioritized over work… and families often work together
Andrew looks at the ways in which he is personally slipping versus the characteristics of the Blue Zoners and concludes that a large part of his day has become internet-related - blogging, social media, etc. But rather than blame or forsake this increased "online connectedness" which he and I both seem to treasure so highly, he has resolved to simply augment how he spends the rest of his time to compensate. Rather than give up the time he spends writing and reading the web, Andrew will simply "do better" in pursuit of Blue Zone-esque activities that will prolong and enrich his life while he is offline.
And I think that is precisely the way I'll go about this. I am not going to remove any of my pursuits from the equation nor will I reduce the focus or attention that each of them require. After all, working with my clients, writing about my experiences doing so, promoting my practice and supporting my family all go hand-in-hand, they are not merely interrelated, they are interconnected. Instead of quitting anything, I'm just going to get stronger. Faster. Lighter. Bouncier. I'll take back what I allowed to slip away and get myself back into that renaissance that brought so much else to the table for me in every other area of my life.
Therefore, this issue with my weight and overall physical condition must be addressed for the sake of everything else that I wish to do better. This is a problem that I am not seeking a way to get around - because this time, I'm going right through it.
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The Reformed Broker is a blog about financial markets and the economy. Joshua Brown is a New York City-based investment advisor for high net worth individuals, charitable foundations, retirement plans and corporations... More.