“Ian, I would like to discuss a radically new approach to health with you, are you interested?” This was how Darrel Pugh, my co-founder and the inspiration behind TransformU started my journey into transforming my relationship with my own health. Only 6 months previously, I had suffered a major cycling accident: 4 broken ribs, major bodily trauma and had I not been wearing a cycle helmet I might well not be here writing this blog post. I was still struggling to recover any decent level of fitness, had just had to admit defeat and gone up a waist size to 38 inch trousers. I had ridiculously low levels of energy and there were still parts of me that stubbornly refused to move as they should. I had even begun to convince myself that I was becoming “old and should just learn to accept it as an inevitable part of the ageing process”. I hated my self-image and only the love of my family and friends was keeping me from suffering from another bout of depression.
“Interested?” I was completely desperate for a new approach to my health.
Taking my health for granted
Turn back to 1990. I had just completed the Richmond Half marathon in a shade under 2 hours. Not fast, but I had finished it successfully. I could run 10 miles at the drop of a hat and often did so. I was around 85 kilos and worried that I was too fat. Then business life got really intense – a move to Aberdeen, very long hours. I remember a comment from a colleague after I was there for a year or so “Ian, you have really put on the beef”. I worked hard, went out for plenty of beers, played golf, socialised and drank whisky with good friends. I got a pan European and then a global job, I travelled more, worked more, spent what spare time I had with family and friends and exercise and nutrition got squeezed out, last place in the queue. Why? I have no idea. When your health is fine and everything going well in life, you take it for granted, I reckon.
Oh so slowly, like the drip, drip of a stalactite growing imperceptibly on a cave ceiling, my weight began to grow. I occasionally went for a jog of a couple of miles, did some dieting and congratulated myself when I lost a few kilos. Then got bored of the diet, got busy and put it all back on again and more.
Now I have to do something on my health
Fast forward to 2015 and for the first time ever I’ve bought a 40 inch waist pair of trousers and have just weighed myself at 109 kilos. Not really exercising much, apart from the occasional short bike ride, because everyone else seems to be. Was it too late to do anything now? Was I destined to simply be that belly-hanging-down-over-the-trouser belt guy with a poor diet who, just like my father, had a heart attack at 60? It was all too much and I froze. Then my children got married, and grandchildren were being mentioned. I had to act. I went on an extended diet. I went to a personal trainer, started cycling seriously, routes of up to 30 miles, twice a week on average. I got down to 95 kilos, a 36 inch waist. It was all going OK and then the cycling accident and it all stopped and went into reverse
Becoming more purposeful in my approach
The call from Darrel was providential in its timing. I was ready to listen, and really take my health seriously, systematically. As he and I have explored the world of our health, I realised that I was “playing at it”. Whilst I had begun to eat more healthily, drink less, and had been exercising more until the accident, I had no real grasp of the interconnections between diet and exercise and so much more. No objective framework against which to say “is this course of action the best one right now for my long term health?” Then as I spoke to Darrel, and starting read up on it, I realised, with a potent combination of hope and horror that there is so much that is known about what “good health actions look like”.
More tellingly, most of us have failed to really have a compelling long term reason for taking ownership of our own health. I was basically rolling the dice of life, a day at a time, hoping that it would all be fine. Hope, as I tell my clients, is not a strategy. So, Darrel has taken me under his wing and is now helping me make that permanent shift to a healthy lifestyle. So far, so good. All the indicators are moving in the right direction, thank God. Welcome to TransformU. We want everyone to feel able to change their relationship to their own health. Do talk to us, as this will take many committed individuals to break through