Nothing much happened when my doctor told me I would be dead before my 30th birthday.
At 25 I weighed in at a hefty 18 ½ stone, had a cholesterol level of 9.7 and blood pressure nearly off the scale. My doctor told me that if I didn’t take remedial action to change the way I lived my life, I would be dead before my 30th birthday.
That was a bit of a wake-up call, and I resolved to lose some weight and get in better shape. So I had a go at a few diets, did a bit of walking and things like that.
But really, not much changed.
Until later that year, when my life changed forever.
I was a keen motorcyclist and had a magnificent Norton 850 in absolutely pristine condition. My wife and I were riding into Nelson, New Zealand, and when an approaching car did a u-turn without warning, we smashed into the side of it at about 70 miles/hour.
I remember seeing Anne flying through the air above me as I rolled down the road and I watched transfixed as she slammed into the road and lay there completely motionless. Everything I loved and cared for lying in a nearly lifeless, crumpled heap.
The bottom fell out of my world, and in that one instant I gave up my own will to live.
Later, as we both lay in the hospital, she regained consciousness and we began the long slow road to recovery.
It was on that day I came to the sudden realisation that life was not all about me.
It was more about the people I cared for.
I realised that by neglecting myself – my health – I was administering perhaps the cruellest blow you could ever deliver to someone who loves you – deliberate self-destruction.
So often we fall into the trap of driving ourselves towards success through everything we do from the neck-up, yet at the expense of our physical condition from the neck down.
Yet they are not separate.
Your brain is an organ of your body the same as your heart, kidneys and liver. The care you take of your body is the care you take of your brain. If your body breaks down – as it may well do – you are instantly worth nothing.
The people who really matter to us, and to whom we possibly matter even more, are left behind wondering why we were so bloody self-absorbed and selfish. Why we didn’t stop and take some time out to refresh, recharge and reinvest in our own physical well-being and longevity.
The amazing thing is it doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to accept what the majority accept. You can change your priorities to include enhanced health, performance and energy – alongside extraordinary professional and business success – right through to an active old age.
These days I work hard at keeping myself in great shape. I exercise hard and regularly and make choices around food to drive a higher standard of health. I’m about to turn 50 next year, have 3 grown-up children and 5 really cool grandchildren.
Told I would die at 30, nearly doing so, and nearly losing the one most precious person in my life, I wouldn’t trade these extra years for all the money in the world.
It’s worth the effort, and, strangely, it turns out that in spending time and energy in taking better care of yourself, the most selfish act becomes the most selfless.