Personal Development Part 2 of 5: Better Health

I’ve had unhealthy habits my entire life. I’ve smoked cigarettes, I’ve smoked pot, I’ve drank until oblivion, I’ve managed my hangover with cheeseburgers and buffalo wings, I had a pot and a half of coffee a day habit and exercise sessions rarely have existed in my life. Now I’m not saying I’m comparable to some stars on “My 600 lb Life” because that we be ludicrous, but what I can tell you is this; as I get into my thirties I can feel the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle more and more. I take a pill for high blood pressure and I’m overweight to the point where I can officially say I am fat-fat, not chubby, not big boned, not husky, just fat.

During my tenure of physical self destruction I never thoroughly realized how much being physically fit effects everything, when you’re a twenty-something and life is a big party you tend to not understand the consequences of your actions and how what you are currently doing will effect you 5, 10, 20 or 40 years later. With that said, I have also come to the realization that 33 years old is not exactly old and I still have some time to make some changes. Especially if I want to see 50.

Let’s start with smoking, cigarettes and pot, first off I quit the former maybe five years ago. So if I go by science and medicine I’ll have the lungs of a virgin in another five years, good stuff. What we really don’t get are the immediate health effects of quitting the cigs. After 20 minutes your blood pressure will drop down to an almost normal level, after a few hours the carbon monoxide levels in your blood will drop by half and the oxygen levels in your blood will return to normal. In 2 to 4 days, your chances of a heart attack begin          to decrease, all nicotine will be out of your body and your taste and smell will return to normal, your energy levels will increase and your lungs will begin to relax. Weeks 2-10 circulation increases, and breathing problems will significantly reduce. Now I am still known to smoke a cigar occasionally so I don’t want to be a hypocrite on this, but two cigars a month during the summer as compared to 2 packs of Marlboro’s a day is a drastic change. You can check out all this info here: http://www.secondscount.org/heart-condition-centers/info-detail-2/how-soon-do-you-benefit-from-smoking-cessation#.WtpO6cgvxhE. As for the pot, from about 17-22 I pretty much lived life like the proverbial Cheech and Chong movie. As I grew up, I started reacting differently to anything containing THC. If you have never smoked that ganja, I want to tell you something, there is nothing worse that going to a bar or a restaurant, and having a panic attack because everyone knows you are stoned, even though they don’t actually know. Hence the end of my cannabis stage. I am still a strong proponent of medical pot as I do think it has its benefits to society. I am also don’t judge the recreational user.

Let’s talk booze…my personal favorite vice. I love it all, Belgian Quadruppels, Double IPA’s, single malt, single cask whisk(e)y’s, Cabernet and Old Vine Zinfandel’s. Nothing like sitting back and having a few drinks after a long week, or a long three days, or a long day, or a rough afternoon. Now I know what you all are thinking, alcoholic, not really. I guess I could have been considered a functioning alcoholic because I did not stick to the two beer a day rule, but it has never been a thing for me to go 3 or 4 days without a drink. Though these times were far and few in between. The biggest problem with my drinking was I had a go big or go home mentality. There beers I was drinking were 300-400 calories a piece, times that by 6 and you get the drift, I wasn’t a Mich Ultra drinker. The wines I drink are big as well, some coming in at 170 calories a glass, again drink a bottle and that’s quite a few extra calories. The only thing low in calories was the whiskey, which I love, but for the time being it’ll be sitting in it’s cabinet. My son was born December 1st 2017. I had some beers over the holidays but besides that it has been roughly four months since I’ve had a drink. I’m not saying I will never go back, because I do miss my beer and bourbon, but when or if I do I am going to moderate. Since I’ve stopped I’ve noticed a few things, my sleep is 100% better, I’m not as moody, my skin is clearing up, my guts are not always in a knot and it has actually been a lot easier to eat healthy (who likes a greek salad with their hangover, seriously). I have also come to terms with the fact that when I over drank I wasn’t always the nicest person to be around, which had to change for the sake of my son. Honestly, at this point I don’t even miss drinking. The first two weeks were annoying when I was with people have drinks but now it’s a breeze. What I thought would be my toughest obstacle actually turned out to be the easiest. It is amazing how different you feel, I would highly suggest if you are a regular drinker to give it up for a month and feel the difference.

Man oh man do I love junk food. Chinese food and pizza to be specific. Combine this with a six pack of 300 calorie a pop beer and you are pretty much making yourself a ticking time bomb of cardiovascular proportions. This most recent change I have made has proven to be the toughest, not because I can’t do it, but because junk food is addicting. It releases feel good hormones, the same way sex does, or pot does, or gambling does, or booze does, or EXERCISE does. So in a perfect world we would all give up the pot, the blackjack table and the cheeseburger and have a wonderful life of passionate sex and fantastic workouts. Then, at least in my case the reality of being a new father kicks in, or the reality of your new job kicks in, or the reality of earning your degree kicks in and you realize it’s not that easy. Finding the time to have sex or workout doesn’t happen. What does happen though is you tend to fall into comfortable habits. Instead of cooking some chicken and vegetables and potatoes, it’s that much easier to run and get a quarter pounder with fries, or to have the pizzeria deliver you a pie. Now from my own experience, too many people, myself included fly into diets and exercise and after three weeks we fail, because the change is too drastic. I actually succeeded in losing 80lbs in a little over three months, when living in California. I felt fantastic; I went down two sizes in my clothes, my joints didn’t hurt, my thoughts were clearer, all that good stuff, I was low carbing and doing circuit training, it was an awesome time. Guess what a year later I gained all my weight back plus 20lbs…aye life. While the circuit training was fantastic, I’ve come to terms with the fact that most fad diets are too extreme and usually lead to an epic fail, because while they work, they are not realistic. For three months I lived off of pork loin, chick breast, tilapia, , and asparagus, with one cheat day, yum! When I decided it was time to go off the low carb diet my body, from what I’m guessing felt so deprived from what it was not getting that I went into a total carb binge and wound up worse than where I started. I have recently decided to take a new approach. Instead of going nuts, doing everything at once, I have decided to change my diet piece by piece, in 3-week segments. The first three weeks I started off slowly, I cut out coffee and switched to green tea, and upped my vitamin game. The next three weeks I cut out fried foods altogether. In these current three weeks, I started adding three servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables with every meal and start eating only one meal a day with meat. I am hoping over the next two months to up my water game, star adding more superfoods to my diet and also start adding more fish and eating more meat that is lean. This step by step philosophy has been working great for me and I haven’t been starving. I also have a pizza night with my girlfriend every Friday because you do need some sort of release.

Exercise, this is a work in progress. My girlfriend and I have recently started walking. Unfortunately, northeast Pennsylvania has been an endless winter. It snowed yesterday, and it’s the middle of April. Since going to the gym with an infant at home is almost impossible we are trying to do some healthy activities that we could include him in. Walking is one, and we are also going to start bike when the weather warms up and get a baby trailer so he can tag along. I have also decided to get a road bike and start biking to work three days a week while it is warm. Again this is a work in progress so stay tuned for updates.

Anyways, I don’t want to keep you guys any longer. I hope you all enjoy your weekend. Stay healthy!

Posted by Scott Gottstein

Business Owner, Reader, Lover of Life, New Father, Former Angry American. I am now focusing on what is important in my life. My family, my career, my health and doing what I love. I want you to join me on my journey and hopefully I can help you along the way!

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