Live, love and leap into health

By Ryan Howes | Oct 10, 2017

In the 2017 Netflix Special, “Jerry before Seinfeld” Jerry shares childhood stories and his rise into comedy at the same New York City club that gave him his start. With a casual and witty demeanor, he recounts his first night on stage. “I only had one joke that worked, which I’m going to do for you right now.” The audience revels in excitement. “If you ever think to yourself that you might want to someday do comedy, this is not the way to do it; don’t ever say: I’m going to tell you a joke now.” The audience laughs at the irony. So, I guess it’s only fitting that I tell you a story now, this being my first newspaper article.

I guide people on the path to intuitive health through an approach I call LIVE, LOVE LEAP. One of my earliest clients, we’ll call him Jerry, had many successes typical of a middle-aged man – career, home, travel, relationships and social life. However, Jerry had some lifestyle challenges to address. He said, “I used to get so much joy from running. Thirty years have flown by and now I’m overweight, have chronic high blood pressure, acid reflux, joint pain and inflammation. I ride a bike because it’s easier on my knees, but it’s not the same feeling I got from running.”

Over the course of six months, Jerry experienced a health transformation. Together, we established several targeted goals and metrics for achieving them. Jerry got an education in shopping, preparing and eating high-quality, home-cooked whole food. He exercised at home, outdoors and at his local YMCA. Jerry also integrated some mindfulness practices to manage stress.

What he accomplished is something quite amazing. He lost 30 pounds in the first three months, reduced his blood pressure to a normal level, to the amazement of his primary care physician (drugs could not do this for him previously), acid reflux subsided, and well into the three-month timeframe, he began running. Joint pain and inflammation were history.

As of now, this story resides in the LIVE phase of LIVE, LOVE LEAP, where focus is placed on making incremental lifestyle changes. My goal for Jerry was to help him crowd out unhealthy behaviors for healthier ones in the areas of mindfulness, exercise and nutrition. Dieting research has determined that people gain more weight in the end due to the 0 to 100 nature of diet plans. Most exercise is commonly focused in a gym with weights, aerobics and yoga. These forms of physical activity may be bio-individually appropriate for some, but dreadfully uncomfortable for another. In Jerry’s case, I asked him questions that helped him determine what would be bio-individually right for his lifestyle in all three areas.

Jerry was motivated to make a change. He wanted to look good and feel good, so he did the work. His friends regularly commented on his appearance and noticed a vibrancy they had not seen before. And he was running again! That “feeling” Jerry, described was there, but something was missing.

If success is defined by the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, Jerry did just that. I am very proud of his accomplishments. I owe him a great deal of gratitude for two things: 1) trusting me to help him, and 2) giving me the opportunity to develop LOVE and LEAP, which has powerfully and positively impacted the lives of my clients post-Jerry.

What were missing for Jerry were the three areas of LOVE: self-compassion, empathy and gratitude. I learned this when he shared the layered stories of his childhood. He, like many people, did not feel a sense of worthiness because he was still carrying doubts and fears from the past. And how might this manifest in Jerry’s life and yours? The answer is quite broad; however the heavy hitters are unhealthy cravings for sweet and salty processed food, alcohol, drugs and promiscuity.

Jerry was not able to powerfully face his fears. His biggest challenge was not his lifestyle-induced physical manifestations; rather it was to LEAP into self-compassion and empathy for past constraints, and to ultimately find gratitude for those experiences. We are all products and expressions of our DNA as well as our environment. Jerry’s initial goals to feel good and look good were accomplished through LIVE, but that was only a Band-Aid for the ultimate challenge he faced.

My life has been filled with outdoor adventure. Getting outside largely helped me to go inside, to find the courage to LEAP into challenging situations, where I would be taking a risk and not know what the outcome would be. Jerry did just that in the LIVE phase, but he was unable to let go of the trapeze bar and experience a state of heightened awareness called transition. Most of us hang onto that trapeze bar for dear life, because we have grown to feel in control of its steady swing. Could Jerry see another trapeze bar out in the distance where fear and growth collide? Well, yes. Could he take the risk to hurtle through the sky, and ultimately embrace the possibility of self-compassion, empathy and gratitude? Sadly, no.

As Jerry Seinfeld shared stories about growing up on Long Island and making his way into the city in the '70s, he actually used the word LEAP to describe his task at hand to become a self-made comedian. He loved what he was doing, and that passion created a meaningful life. It’s never too late to powerfully create the life we want, not for Jerry or Jerry, or you and me. It might be terrifying, but the risk is surely worth the reward, because letting go means we might just learn how to fly.

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