The year 2017 is coming to its end. The annual moment of reflection. And I did reflect. What about my achievements? What was my biggest achievement in 2017? Was it my record year as a professional speaker and trainer? No. Was it the further growth of Rhetoric – The Public Speaking Game? No. Was it the creation of my personal brand? No. Was it the pride in my eyes when I saw my little Alvaro grow into an eleven-year-old mini man? Close, but no.
My biggest achievement in 2017 was: I changed my way of life.
Friends, mates, buddies, do not panic! I still drink. (Can you hear the multiple sigh of relief?) No, I changed my way of life in a different aspect.
Since the end of 2008 I have been a freelancer. In my former life as a business consultant we had obligatory yearly health checks. After I left KPMG, the idea of having regular health checks slowly faded away. Till I didn’t think about it at all. The years came, the years went away. Health, who cares? I AM healthy!
Last February, I suddenly felt the urge to do a blood test. Don’t ask me why. I just felt like it. So I got myself an appointment at a health center in noisy Urgell street in Barcelona.
Waiting there in the white hallway in front of door number three, looking at pale faces, my inner voice tells me, You’re not the only one who needs a blood test here. I bridge the time with social media. Finally, the door opens.
A man with white hair, white face, dressed in white, looks for his next standard patient. Dr. Ramón almost breaks his tongue trying to pronounce my name correctly. The white room with the white table and the white papers on top match Dr. Ramón’s look perfectly. After some standard questions like, Do you have any sexual diseases?, he sends me off to the basement to take some blood probes.
Two weeks later. I’m back at the white table. Dr. Ramón examines my blood results. I don’t like the frowning of his white eyebrows. After a while, he looks up and says with his white voice, The liver is good.
That’s not your blood, my inner voice screams.
Dr. Ramón continued with the sentence that changed it all. But the cholesterol is very high!
As a good German, for 43 years my diet had been based on red meat, sausages, cream and butter. Add tons of shellfish and cheese, subtract any form of sports, and – voila – here you have it: the perfect formula for bad cholesterol. Bad cholesterol – a highway to heart attack!
Dr. Ramón opened a drawer, pulled out a white envelope, put it in front of me and scribbled down my diet for the following three months.
No red meat.
No milk products like butter or cheese.
With big eyes I asked him: But what am I gonna eat then?
For the first time, with some trace of enthusiasm Dr. Ramón replied, Oh, there are many things: fish, especially blue fish like salmon and tuna, poultry, veggies and fruits. And start to do sports regularly. In three months, you do another blood test and we’ll see, if you need medication. See you in three months.
And back I was in the white hallway. For the first time in 43 years someone had told me that there was something wrong with my health. I was alarmed; I was worried; I felt scared.
The good thing about Germans is, once someone gives us rules, we follow them. And I did follow Dr. Ramón’s rules. Meticulously. Was it hard? No, it wasn’t hard. It was hell!
I remember my first stay at a good trattoria in Munich two days after the white room. My client Microsoft took me out for dinner. The smiling Italian waiter Giovanni passed me the menu. Everything sounded fantastic, everything made my mouth water, everything looked like… I couldn’t eat it.
Change is never easy. But I made it. I stuck to Dr. Ramón’s old-school diet. I ordered pizza without cheese. And I started to run regularly. Three months of suffering paid off. My bad cholesterol went down by 20% and I lost 5 kg. And the best? My body got used to this new way of life.
Dr. Ramón’s diet has now turned into my new eating habits. I don’t follow those white envelope instructions 100%. I won’t reject Spaghetti alle vongole in Milan. I will have my Dim sum in Singapore. But in general, today I’m much more conscious about what I stuff into my body.
I have reduced animal fat to the max!
And that, for me, is my biggest achievement in 2017.
Photo by Cel Lisboa