This brings me back to timing again, and the third pivotal event that occurred in and around that time.
A few years previously I had begun studying a degree course in Osteopathic Medicine. One of the senior lecturers on the course was a Naturopath Doctor as well as an Osteopath. He was however, considered by most of the students as the ‘quack’ or the hippie of the faculty, in fact I was later to discover he was often ridiculed or laughed at by many of his peers too…primarily because they considered him ‘too extreme’ in his thinking about health. However the guy fascinated me. He was 75 years old and walked with a spring in his step like a 30 year old. He was flexible, and he didn’t seem to suffer from any of the usual aches and pains of many his age. However, it was his physique, skin and eyes that just didn’t add up for me.
Now, I had seen many older athletes and weight trainers who had managed stay fit, retain a degree of musculature, and keep their bodyfat low. However it had always been paid for with a spartan diet, a diet devoid of colour, and certainly devoid of sweetness. Things like fruit just seemed to be considered the ’devil’s food’ to those guys. They also lived a lifestyle that just didn’t work socially…eating out was rarely on the menu due to the level of restriction within their diet. Instead they chose to carry those half dozen plastic lunch boxes around with them all their lives. Their dedication was certainly admirable…but at what cost?
Even though those diets afforded them a degree of leanness and muscle retention that belied their age...you could usually guess within a decade their true age by looking at their skin, and particularly, their eyes. Their eyes always had that ‘tired’ look.
However, this naturopath’s physical condition at 75 just left me gobsmacked. He was just as lean if not leaner than the guys I knew living the spartan lifestyle, and yet he didn’t spend hours everyday training, he didn’t spend his life counting kcals, he didn’t avoid fruit, and he was quite happy to dine out socially. But it was his skin and eyes that was the biggest surprise, he looked at least 30-40 years younger than his age.
As part of his lectures he would often incorporate many principles and research from the field of Naturopathy. To my fellow students at the time, it was the part of the course they enjoyed the least. This was mainly due to the fact that what he taught seem to contradict both the orthodoxy of western medicine, and everything we had been taught as adults about health and nutrition. Most people switched off mentally in his lectures and did the least amount they had to do to pass his classes. However, I was enthralled, and I often left his lectures intrigued, confused, and full of questions.
However, although I was fascinated by what he taught, at the time I just never thought to employ any of it in my personal life. Why? I guess the reason was because I was happy in my own little world…my training and health were good…I had a structure in my life that just worked…so why would I want to mess with it? However I had always promised myself that one day in the future, when I had time, I would return to explore what he spoke about in greater depth.
Only later I would realise the opportunity I missed back then, through arrogance, laziness, a closed mind, and a lack of foresight.
Anyway, I guess the point I was trying to make was, what he had taught us, had always stuck in the back of my mind.
So when I hit this dilemma and ran out of options, or places to turn for answers within the realms of what I was familiar with, I began to hear this niggling little voice inside my head. It kept repeating something I had heard many times when I had trained to become a Master Practitioner in NLP…
‘The map is not the territory’
…it sounds ridiculous to draw parallels to concepts related to psychological issues and my understanding of exercise and nutrition…but I did. The actual truth was they were actually totally related. I had been living within a programmed structure of thinking in relation to how to pursue long term health…a closed mind if you like…and it was giving me no answers now. So I decided to open my mind and look outside the box.
And so I began reading and researching. I left all my emotional attachments to previously held beliefs about how the body worked, exercise physiology, how we should eat…and applied one filter, common sense.