A Retrospect Story About Getting Out of a Rut
This is a retrospect story of mine that will give you insights into getting out of a rut you may be in now or might be in the future.
The story starts in New York City, it’s 2016. I’m on a panel in front of hundreds of people with Performance Lifestyle Advisor, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, and host of other panelists at the American Heart Association. I was sharing some tips around authenticity, resilience, and renewability; all essential aspects of the optimal performance state for human beings that I was clarifying as the leading advocate of a new transformational model for living, and a training and coaching company I founded called Performance Lifestyle® Inc.
That subject of mindset was hot on my mind because, at the time, I was still recovering and still suffering the consequences of an accident that injured my back a year before, and almost left me for dead from a double pulmonary embolism. I’ll get to that in a second, but I knew I needed to rely on an optimal performance state if I was going to recover, while the added stress of being out of the game was bearing down on me. I may have been in the hospital, and in lying flat, but life was marching on. I had to take care of things and I needed to be coming from the right place.
Regarding the accident, and why I almost died, it was the potentially lethal combination of being immobile, on my back for nearly two months and mistakenly stopping the Heparin drip to prevent blood clotting during the last two weeks of a hospital stay. My nurse’s had been diligent in giving me my shots, but thinking the worse was behind me, I grew tired of taking the daily shots (side note: I don’t like needles any more than you do) and declined it for the last 14 days. Within two days of getting home from the hospital, I was unable to breathe and was siping air from a straw to get a focused stream air into my lungs and nearly expired during the night, doing nothing at all but attempting to sleep.
And that’s ironic because the origin of this article is ultimately about the impact of lack of sleep, rest, recovery, and rejuvenation on my life, how it landed me in the hospital and nearly dead, and what it has inspired in my life.
You see, I had slipped on black ice on that January 18th of 2015, walking out of my front door and the height of the consequences lasted almost two years, which is an epic rut, to say the least. In the months leading up to the fall, I was crushing it in my business. I took no December vacation and just worked straight through the holidays after a full year on top of a full life. I told myself the story that “it’s just what I needed to do; whatever it took to accomplish what I was up to at the time, and then I would rest.” It was the classic story of a recovering performance addict.
Before I fell, I was in the middle of launching a natural food product, called Superfood Infusions®, which we were selling, and will again shortly, to the emerging group of Performance Lifestyle customers and clients–busy parents and professionals, entrepreneurs and executives who, for one, don’t want to compromise their nutrition on the go. We were crushing it, but as the story goes, I was also getting crushed, as I was skipping essential recovery.
By that January I was so tired, despite my wife telling me to be careful, I was in a daze as we were headed to my parents’ house for dinner, and I just walked out the door without looking. I didn’t pay attention to the weather or the sheet of ice that had built up on that cold and rainy day; the same day and ice, that the NY Giants Owner Ann Mara fell on, and it killed her. Sure it could have happened to anyone, over 600 people were in the emergency room at St Barnabas on the day I fell for a reason related to ice, but I know the truth for me. I was exhausted. In the picture for this article, there weren’t even rooms available, and I ended up on a gurney for nearly 6 hours before any doc could see me.
When I finally got out of the hospital, the second time, for the pulmonary embolism; I had to change my diet, and stop eating greens, for at least a while, because of advice that they contained too much vitamin K, which clots the blood. I started eating more calorie dense food and wasn’t exercising much at all, other than slow walking; and, I had an exceptional level of stress due to not working or even thinking much, for months. It’s like I downregulated during that time. What I wasn’t using (my brain) I was loosing and my resilience not only to bounce back from stress but even face the stress of any kind was limited. It didn’t take much to overwhelm me.
Even after two months of bed rest, most of which, wasn’t time dedicated to sleep because I was on drugs, lots of drugs, (morphine), I ultimately had to recover from that too, while learning to walk again. But what I did do was lift the lid on the trailing fatigue that was already there before arriving at the hospital and I was just getting the chance I needed to see it through. But it wasn’t to be.
Not a week out of the hospital, a client purchased one of the biggest orders my company had ever seen, for her multinational company. It seemed like a dream come true given the situation I was in and a great momentum builder as I got back to work. What I didn’t see coming, was the stress it would give rise too, on my company and me—physically, mentally and financially. I just wasn’t ready to handle it. The stress mounted, fatigue exacerbated, and as a further consequence, I made a few bad decisions around fulfilling that order that compounded things even worse.
In the months ahead, I gained almost 50 lbs. You can tell I’m a pretty big fella in the red carpet picture above. And while grateful for the amazing order, the lovely person who awarded it to us, and it’s positive impact on my company at the start of launching a new product; the thing is, it prompted what turned out to become a “perfect storm.”
I remember watching that movie over and over again, at the time, because it felt like the storm just wasn’t going to let me out. And to top it all off, my Son’s Cubscout Pack 12 needed a new Cubmaster to turn the pack around or go out. Having been an Eagle Scout 34 years earlier in the Boy Scout Troop 12, I hesitantly said no, but then said yes, as they needed me. Had it been any other organization, saying no would have been easy, but this I just couldn’t and it added to the crush.
What made it all the tougher was that I knew what was happening as it was happening. I was not in the dark. You see, as a Performance Lifestyle Trainer and coach, I work with driven, achiever-types who often tire out, burnout, and wear out dealing with relentless demands on their time and energy. They skip essential recovery and regeneration periods like I did that year, and as a result, they suffer from poor lifestyle habits responding to stress in ways that create more stress; even if they appear common on the surface like eating lots of food (even healthy food), exhausted in front of the TV at night in what feels like a drunken stooper, but is really just excessive tiredness.
I am also pretty adept at what it takes to correct course and have helped hundreds of people course correct in their own lives; helping them get out the ruts that distract and hold the person back from fully engaging with life, performing “well.”
As for as a former worn down overachiever, who had little appreciation for recovery early on, I would often spend months, sometimes years in a behind-the-scenes malaise. I would eventually get good at steering clear of all those pitfalls. It’s what enabled me to organize what it means to live a Performance Lifestyle today. Performance lifestyle—the philosophy, science, and art of living in balance, with vibrant health and peace of mind while achieving even your most ambitious goals was the byproduct of learning how to optimize the way I live, in our modern day performance culture and working with others to do the same.
But in 2015/16, even with my experience to date, that seemed like a quality of life, that was as far from my reality as I could have ever imagined. I had never felt a greater incongruence between what I was espousing as a life experience and experiencing personally. In my case, accentuated by the accident, things just mushroomed over and I found myself in one of the most difficult spots I’d ever been in and it was humbling by how difficult it can be; to be the person stuck deep in that “rut.”
This was going to be a serious challenge for me, and it was, but at the crux of it…I was tired.
No matter how skilled you are, life isn’t always going to hand us the perfect set of circumstances. Optimal or not, things happen, and sometimes it all just goes awry and you need to know how to recover your energy. Being tired, exhausted or fatigued seems to be the one thing that characterizes those periods in the rut. I’d been in tough spots before, but not like this, and I knew that I needed to stop and understanding my present situation, in the same way, I do with clients, to figure out to apply what I know or need to learn, to recover or restore my energy.
Without that, there was no way I was going to will my way back to a position of strength in my life and business.
Fast forward to 2016 on the panel in NYC. At that time, I was in the throes of that recovery, while still engaging and sharing the journey. I learned some time back that I had to face everything, avoid nothing and use the problem arising as a doorway to the solution. Thanks in large part to what I was going through during that period, I practiced that optimal performance state, and stayed grounded in what and who I am; so I did not personalize my condition nor turn it into a psychological rut. I expressed my way through it.
As you can see, I was out and about doing panels, and other events because I’m committed to what I’m up to and during this period I was radically honest about what I was experiencing, not something I would do in years past where I would just cover it up. I wanted to consciously resolve and evolving away from what was causing chronic exhaustion and fatigue, in my life, at least influenced that accident and what manifested in extreme back pain to come. I wanted a new normal. I wasn’t crushing it during this time, but I also wasn’t getting crushed either. I was in a long overdue recovery period and I’ve milked it for all it’s been worth, and I’m still recovering.
For the first time in my life, I’ve put it all on the line. Instead of trying to keep up with it all, I allowed the cards to fall where they may. There was no chance from my present situation back then, that I was going to be able to keep on keeping on, in the same way, I had attempted again and again before. I stopped my product launch, consolidated my ventures into one company, and replanned my business and life with the help of a good friend, a team of people around me who really cared and the support of my family, without which I would not have gotten through as gracefully.
The reality is, recovery from the fatigue you feel in a a rut and its consequences are almost always about more than just getting more sleep, eating better and exercising more. Even though improving sleep performance… was important for me, and will be for you as well, in order to improve sleep and overall the amount of time you need in your life to recover from excess stress; you often have to deal with your life situation.
So that’s what I did. I dug deep to resolve the real problem and have done so in the face yet another stress of a whole new beautiful kind. My wife who was pregnant gave birth to a new baby girl! Nonetheless, with good planning, I have still been able to recover to where I AM at the time of this writing, and a secret to my sauce I will describe below.
Headed into 2016, as the founder of Performance Lifestyle Inc, I was already clear that it was my mission to help people learn how to live in balance with vibrant health and peace of mind while achieving even their most ambitious goals; a performance mindset and a lifestyle skillset that I am all the more adept at now. But the experience of 2015-2017 taught me something. Making essential lifestyle changes can be difficult when you’re feeling tired out and worn out, let alone in pain.
It’s no wonder people seek magic because when they are in a rut of almost any kind; you just don’t have the energy to invest to make the very changes that will improve your life. Too many of us live sleep deprived and constantly tired as a status quo, and don’t realize that it’s at the source of why things just don’t seem to change despite staying on the treadmill and trying to work our way out. My journey in developing Performance Lifestyle tells me first hand, that’s tried and true.
So in the process of my recovery over the past three years, not just from the accident, but from the years leading up to it; I decided to expand my mission.
In the great book Transitions by William Bridges, one of the best-selling books of all time (up there with the Bible), making a transition begins, not with a new beginning, but with an ending and a neutral period before the new beginning “begins.” As mentioned earlier, it took me in my situation, a two solid years before a new beginning kicked into gear following that accident as I had to reformulate and begin to build momentum for how I was now going to live my life and approach what I was up to in the world.
With the added inspiration of my newborn daughter Grace, the addition to my mission was this: To help people recover from the excess stress of the past, so they can learn how to live in balance with vibrant health and peace of mind while achieving even their most ambitious goals.
And in 2018, we acted on just that. Wanting a solution to the back pain that ensued from all the above, I finally got a handle on the science of regeneration, which, I knew by this point was and is at the heart of performance recovery and establishing a lifestyle that supports you and what you are up to in the world. After a great deal of concentrated research, and testing, my wife and I, open to some help in solving the problem of fatigue and the sister act of pain that we and countless others have suffered from, the results of excess stress and it’s compounding effects on sleep, and our lifestyle habits; founded RegenusCenters.
We did so to help people speed up the restoration, reparation, and reactivation of their body, and ready them to unleash the full potential of their lifestyle to achieve their goals, look, feel and perform better. Which means to optimize all aspects of the way they live, to experience better results in life, starting with Sleep Performance.
I don’t think I would have arrived at this new compelling possibility if it had not been for that all that lead up to it, namely the struggle’s I’ve had with overexertion and fatigue in my past, not because I had a disease, but because I would overspend my energy and not get enough recovery. I already knew the importance of sleep, rest, recovery, and rejuvenation in one’s life; in my life at an intellectual and semi-practice level. I had talked about it for years and had much of this in play, but it still wasn’t fully in play for me. It wasn’t actually central to my lifestyle around which I organized my activity. It was the other way around and as an entrepreneur, who put out tons of energy every day, that negatively affected my recovery and my life.
So at the heart of my recovery, this transition I have been going through, the one that was going to change the course of my life and so far has; has been making a “regeneration transformation“, a new term I coined to explain the process of transforming life form to the vibrant and healthy kind.
You can read about regeneration to help you resolve the fatigue, and the pain (aches, creaky joints, hand, and food, back pain etc) from excess stress in the series I’ve been writing. It’s a subject that a lot of experts are talking about, but few really know how to talk about comprehensively, other than to tell you just to get more sleep or go to a therapist or doctor. And you, like me, will never fully realize its benefits until you understand the impact of overexertion on your capacity to function as a human being, and the role that rest, sleep, recovery, relaxation, meditation and rejuvenation play in the context of your lifestyle.
When you come to terms that your driven ways, have likely been causing you to overspend your energy for likely far too long, that’s when you come to terms with what it really takes to resolve the real problem, evolve with a new lifestyle mindset and skillset to achieve even your most ambitious goals, while living in balance with vibrant health and peace of mind.
After years of establishing what it means to live a performance lifestyle, I have finally embraced the full breadth and depth of what it takes to get one’s energy back, like when they were a much younger person; and as a result, I’m now able to help others do the same by helping them address what’s driving them so hard, recover from the excess stress of the past (whether they can come to a Regenus Center or not) as well as making the needed life and lifestyle changes that correct their course toward an upward spiraling life.
You don’t need to be into sports or even a fitness enthusiast to understand that performance recovery at the core of your lifestyle, will change your life for the better forever.
Am I completely in the clear today? No. No one is ever really in the clear because the situation and circumstances of our lives can change, but they do get more and more stable and supported over time.
Performance is “lifestyle” and it’s called a lifestyle for a reason. As long as I (you) stay present and conscious, deal with excess stress when it emerges in an appropriate way and live in balance (the new model you will learn in PL365, Re-Training U,™), vibrant health and peace of mind while achieving even my (your) most ambitious goals will follow.
It’s why my next book, is called Crush it, Without Getting Crushed.