My journey into health and wellness started in 1992, the year I quit smoking cigarettes. I remember that day well. I was driving home from work and, as I flicked my last cigarette out the window of my car, a very clear resolve popped into my head: “I am no longer a smoker.” Prior to that moment I was a two-pack a day, heavy-drinking, work-aholic attorney at a large law-firm in the shadows of the World Trade Center. I haven’t smoked since.
Later, in the Summer of that year, I was struck with another resolve. It occurred as I was sitting at a picnic table at the local community center swimming pool eating a hot-dog and drinking a Coke with my two boys. At a nearby table was a father roughly my age with his sons who had the physique of an Olympic swimmer. As I sat there stuffing myself with junk food, I compared my flabby undefined body to his, and it hit me. I was willing to whatever it might take to change my “skinny-fat” body to a more tone and healthy body. It took a few years for this to intent to manifest.
My initial baby step was to join a local gym where I started to work out a few days a week. Not knowing much about the importance of diet, which I changed only modestly, I did not see much, if any, outwardly apparent physical changes.
A major shift occurred after I relocated to Los Angeles in 1995. After taking the California bar, I decided to use the time I carved-out each day to study for the exam, and use that time to hit the gym. I began reading fitness magazines and adopted more focused routines into a 90-minute daily workout. At the same time, I shifted to a low-fat, high protein diet (very much in vogue then). I did this every single day without fail for two years, and I began to see major physiological changes. I had muscle tone, for the first time in my life. However, I continued to suffer from chronic health problems.
I would get up several times each night to urinate and I suffered from excess phlegm with a chronic cough. As these health issues took center stage, my frustration with allopathic care pushed me to try something new. While I had never considered acupuncture, I was desperate and willing to try a new treatment modality. The energetic and emotional components were something I had not associated with health. While entirely foreign to my linear view of the world, my experience was that it worked. It made sense to use medicine to address the cause, rather than the symptom, of disease. I was so impressed with Traditional Chinese Medicine and the gifted practitioner sticking needles in me, I didn’t hesitate when the opportunity presented itself for me to provide the funds to open a wellness center with a holistic approach to healing.
The resulting new perspectives caused a paradigm shift for me. My life wasn’t the same. A curious look at “wellness” (in its most comprehensive sense) had evolved from an interest into a passion (and then to what others may view as an obsession). The more I learned, the more I wanted to know. I was enthralled with mind-body connections, energetic healing, muscle testing, quantum physics, in addition to healthy movement, nutrition and supplementation. This became the subject of my free time. It was what I did for fun! While I was blessed with a great career, and loved my clients and colleagues, my passion was health and wellness.
Over the next decade I focused a good deal on nutrition. Experimenting with food and the preparation of food was fun. It provided a framework for experimentation and expression, as something we all participate in daily. I began to see that in the zealousness of its adherents, diet has many of the attributes of religion. And my religious “conversion” went through more than one “theology.” At the time of my cancer diagnosis, I was about 6 months into full-time nutritional ketosis. Prior to that I was on a Paleo diet (before the word Paleo was in vogue), and before that I was an adherent of the raw “Primal” diet. I had even spent a year and a half as a vegetarian.
For fitness, I was (and remain) an avid yogi. While I include intervals and resistance work in my routine, my workout of choice is yoga (having practiced Bikram, Iyengar and Vinyasa flow). My health seemed rock solid. As I ended my fifth decade in life, I looked and felt great.