Long road to happiness

Half way through the year and is it turning out as you planned way back at the cold end of December? For me it’s taken twists and turns that I never imagined. Sometimes it feels as if I’m exposed to thoughts, ideas and people that are changing my life in a brand new way. That’s not to say that everything has gone smoothly, in some ways definitely not, but I feel different, in a good way, than this time last year.

It began in January with Chris McDougall’s ‘Born to Run’ talk on TED.com. Having run for almost 30 years, up to that point, I thought I’d heard just about everything there was to say about running. Chris’ 15 minute talk blew me away. He introduced me to the Tarahumara, this amazing running people of Mexico, who seemed superhuman. It also introduced me to the world of ultra-marathons where a normal 26.2 mile marathon was no longer long enough. I’d heard about these things in the 1980’s, but had no idea that they’d gained so much in popularity. I began to run further and longer than I had in years. I completed a 16 mile cross country race in April and I’ve signed up to do my first marathon since 1986.

Not long after hearing this talk I was told about Dr Clapper and his ‘Foods that Kill’ talk, that has been around since 1993. It only confirmed all I’d thought for the past 9 years, since I took the step of becoming vegetarian. After this came the best book I’ve ever read on food and it’s relationship to health and beating or preventing disease, that book is ‘The China Study’ by Dr T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. Based on 52 years of research the crux of the book is that in order to avoid heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, diabetes and a raft of psychological ailments the secret is in a whole food, plant based diet ie no meat or dairy. When I tell people I’m a vegetarian people will often say that they can’t live without meat or ‘I don’t want to eat rabbit food’. My thoughts on that are how often do you see a fat rabbit? In the wild at least, and what are rabbits renowned for? Is it the food they eat?

My quest for good health began in 1981 when, at the age of 18, I decided I didn’t want to look bad at 50. I suppose at 18, 50 years old seemed like forever away. Vanity has helped in unexpected ways. Other than my sporting career and my martial arts achievements it has also brought me great health. I recently went for my annual asthma check up and was told by my doctor not to bother with my preventer inhaler (the brown one). I’ve been on this for 33 years and hardly used it in the last few. Now I no longer need it at all. My cholesterol level is 3.3; I’m told that the average is 5, bad is 6 and higher and you’re in trouble.

Health is a bit like savings. Start young and you can build up a lot of money through compound interest. You can also start late and make substantial differences. It’s never too late to start looking after yourself, but it’s better to begin young. The path to happiness can be a long road, but when you have a great target in sight it’s well worth pursuing.


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