I struggle with mental health.
I’ve spoke about it before but haven’t shared much about my progress.
To be fair I don’t talk much about it, I like to keep myself moving forward, but to do so it’s important to reflect on where we’ve come from, extract the lessons and measure progress.
I’m in a better place both mentally and physically than I have since being a young corporal with a bright shiny Army career ahead of me.
Not quite in that same place (maybe that’s just age for you), but a million times better than some of the dark days I’ve seen in the past 6 years.
I’m over the worst but there’s still ‘something’ living with me that I’ve learned to accept and live with as part of who I am now.
I’m a little different from ‘how’ I used to be. Mum says she noticed a change when I left the Army…
“There’s just something different about you. A spark missing that’s never come back.”
I know what she means. I don’t it’ll ever be back. But that’s ok.
Because I’ve found a new spark. A new sense of purpose in bettering myself and helping others along the way.
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Booze, Cocaine & Junk-Food
After leaving the Army I had some extremely self-destructing behaviors…
Binge-drinking, cocaine abuse, drink-driving, living on fast-food, stressed out with extreme anger issues to boot.
The very worst kind of example I could have been for my kids.
At the time it was easy to blame my circumstances, being medically discharged from the Army, losing the life I loved. But I had control over my behaviors and I chose the wrong path.
A point in life where my sense of pride and self-confidence was at an all-time low. Self-inflicted.
What kind of man was I showing my son to be?
How could I expect my daughter to grow up with self-respect when I had none?
If I’m honest I was comparing myself to who I used to be, how I used to feel, the adventures I had with Army life. I felt sorry for myself and sedated in self-sabotage behaviors instead of creating a new life, with new adventures.
But I got sick of the pitty-party. Sick of the hangovers.
Sick of being too tired to show my kids a good time. Too grumpy and self-centered to give them the attention they needed.
Sick of my bullshit stories and talk of everything I was gonna do, but with zero action. Sick of underachieving.
So I got to work, little by little, every day.
And I’ve learned we have huge control over how we feel.
We can be proactive in creating routines each day to better ourselves…
* Training your body to be fitter and stronger.
* Buying, prepping and eating healthier foods to nourish your body.
* Spend more time outdoors, lapping up nature to nourish your soul.
* Unplugging from social media, being present and creating stronger relationships with your kids.
* Spend more time with other forward-thinking people with similar aspirations.
* Planning and creating adventures you love having in your life.
* Getting excited about, and taking action on BIG goals.
^^^ We can create that sense of purpose. Or we can leave how we feel to chance.
The latter led me to sedation.
Motivation Vs Discipline
Things are different now but I’m not saying everything’s pink and fluffy.
I have the odd day I don’t want to get out of bed never mind getting after big goals, but if I muster enough discipline to get the feet on the floor, start the day with a healthy meal, a workout or walk with my dogs, it has a forward feed into more positive action.
Then I feel great about that.
I hear a lot of men complain of ‘just not having the right kind of motivation’ to eat healthy or workout. In my experience, you feel motivated AFTER you do those things. You feel great about it.
We don’t need motivation to change, we need to implement DISCIPLINE to show up every day, even when we don’t feel like it.
Transforming my own physical health has given me purpose again. I’m working on personal goals, striving for self-improvement, and also as a trainer and nutrition coach, helping other men get healthier and fitter, too.
I won’t BS you. It takes work, but if you’ve ever achieved anything you’re truly proud of, you already know the feeling of true achievement and what it takes to get there. It’s not easy, or an overnight process.
There’s a deep sense of pride, achievement, and self-confidence to gain from hard work. Embrace it.
I argue it’s a harder road being low on energy, lethargic, stressed, moody, feeling underachieved and unhappy with your body. So if both roads are hard, shouldn’t we take the one with the most benefits?
If you haven’t already started?
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Now if you’ll excuse me…
I’ve 2 youngsters to hang with today.
Dean McMenamin is an Army veteran, father, dog-lover and online nutrition & exercise coach helping busy men transform their bodies, regain self-confidence and be healthier role models for their kids. He's also a big eater of ice-cream.