Wellness Tips

Time away from your daily grind can be a boost to your overall health

I’m writing Fitness Solutions this week after a mini-vacation in Quebec to attend a wedding of a close friend, which included a reunion with people who I grew up with.

There were some friends who I had not seen in more than 30 years and when we connected, the years just melted away. The stories, the laughs (…and the beers) flowed easily and I hadn’t laughed as much as I did the last few days in a long time.

Upon returning home and sitting to write this week’s column, I found that I had several random thoughts swirling around my brain that might be of interest to followers of this column. Here are a few of them:

1. Leading up to our time away, I was working more than usual while providing caregiver duties for my wife who is living with MS, and planning a bathroom accessibility renovation. During this time, I noticed that my teeth and gums ached after every time that I slept; even if it was only a 20 minute nap. I was obviously grinding my teeth and clenching my jaw while sleeping, which was causing pain.

After a single night of reminiscing, bonding and, especially, laughing and socializing with old friends at my favourite brasserie, I woke up in the morning pain-free and never had any teeth or jaw pain the entire time we were gone. Being away from my daily work routine with so many cherished friends allowed me to completely relax to the point where I was able to “leave my troubles behind” when I hit the sack for the night.

Don’t underestimate the physical toll that mental challenges can have on your body and give yourself a break when you feel like you need one.

2. While we were away in Quebec, I was featured on the Montreal talk-radio show “Life Unrehearsed.” My interview touched on my professional football career, as well as my life after football as an entrepreneur and my current role as a caregiver for my wife.

The theme of the interview was about the ability to pivot and transition when life becomes challenging. I outlined four big life events that necessitated a reinvention or re-adjustment by me: getting cut from the CFL at 28 after being “the football player” for more than 22 years; finding out that my future wife had MS; declaring a business bankruptcy after posting a record-grossing year; and completely changing my business model when the COVID pandemic started.

I was able to successfully navigate all four of these challenges by maintaining a sense of curiosity while seeking the “adventure” in reinvention. I did this by finding a mentor who could lead me out of the “darkness” for each of these big life tests. Understanding that I wasn’t the first person who ever had to deal with those things, was also a tremendous help.

3. As therapeutic as the late nights of laughing and beer drinking were for my spirit, they did leave me pretty tired each morning. Despite the fatigue, I decided that I would lead by example and did a great, high intensity workout on two out of the four days that we were in a hotel.

I kept my meditation practice going, drank some water, put on my music and pushed myself hard in the gym before breakfast. Just thinking of all of my clients who complete road workouts that I supply to them was enough to get me moving. As a bonus, it made me feel alive and made each day that much better.

4. My last point can be considered as my public service announcement for the day. A few days before leaving for Quebec, I received the results of my “50-something-year-old-guy” blood work that my doctor ordered and I’m proud to say that all of my numbers are in the excellent range.

The tests included cholesterol and blood sugar checks, total testosterone and PSA (looking for abnormalities with my prostate). My dad died with prostate cancer so the last number was a significant one. The nurse who gave me the results told me that I have the “blood of a 16-year-old!”

Coincidentally, after getting the test results, I heard the sobering news that one of the other invited wedding guests (a guy who is a few years older than me) would not be attending because he had just found out that he was in the late stages of colon and stomach cancer and would be starting aggressive treatment.

If you are a man in your 50s or older, do not delay in getting your blood work done, get a colonoscopy and also have a skin check to look for early signs of skin cancer from sun damage. Your life might depend on it.


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