The Five F-words to unlock your Freedom
When I first got diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer, I was lost, I was scared, I was confused, and I had no direction as to where I was headed on the warpath I was about to embark on. When you get hit with a diagnosis like this, your entire world get’s flipped upside down, rattled and slammed around.
This is where the war begins. The mental warfare waged on our minds that our lives are soon to be over because of this horrible disease.
I remember the evening of the dreaded diagnosis call like it was yesterday. As I stood there speechless with a face full of tears and a broken heart in a million pieces, I watched my family enjoying their dinner through the restaurant window after an already exhausting day at the hospital.
I thought my life was over. I thought that cancer was going to be the end of me and that it was going to tear my family and I up along the way, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.
In actuality, what the cancer diagnosis did for me, and what I hope that it does for you, is it woke me up. It woke me up to the fact that not only did I have all this cancer riddled throughout my body, but I had many figurative forms of cancer that were causing havoc on my life that I allowed to enter, and take up valuable space and time that I found I was wasting away.
So I began to peel the onion, layer by layer, and ultimately what I found was the key to unlock the shackles of all the figurative and physical forms of cancer that I allowed in my life… whether I knew it or not.
The key to unlocking that type of Freedom can only be found in a daily commitment to yourself of becoming a better person today than you were yesterday in these five areas of your life. The daily growth does not need to be massive, but in order to gain massive results in your life you must be committed to set yourself up for winning daily.
Here’s the Five F-words to unlock your Freedom:
I was raised in a Christian family and made my decision to be baptized at 23 years old. I always thought I knew what FAITH was until I truly had my FAITH tested numerous of times throughout these last two years.
Please let me be clear, FAITH is NOT a Christian thing, this is a Higher Power thing, and for me, that is in God through Jesus Christ. I also, believe that most religions in the world have the same loving God’s grace that we strive for, but that the different religions offer different paths to get to Him. But, I am not here to debate the religion topic and I believe that FAITH is way more than religion, so allow me to explain.
Leading up to my diagnosis, I thought that I had everything under control. I had been a 4-year college athlete, I married my high school sweetheart, we were blessed with a beautiful and kindhearted daughter, and I had a pretty successful career of 20 years that I had just left to build my own business, Make Eating Fun.
Life was happening and I was ”in control” of my destiny, or at least I thought that until it all got swept away with the dreaded news of facing the most evil disease on the planet.
As I began to peel back the layers of my life, I found that I actually was not living in FAITH at all as I was trying to control everything that I thought I was creating in my life. I didn’t realize it was actually God guiding me the entire time while I continued to resist in attempt control my own destiny.
I didn’t ask for cancer and my disease is not genetic. This means that my stage 4 colorectal cancer entered my body due to the environment that I created inside and outside of it. I had a horrible diet, I drank sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and alcohol daily, I smoked cigarettes and I lied to myself and even others about my realities to make them look better because I thought that is what mattered.
I learned real quickly that 97% of the stuff that I was trying to control in mine and my families life wasn’t actually up to me to attempt to control, because ultimately there is nothing I could actually do.
Allow me to explain… I put so much of MY happiness on my wife’s happiness. What I mean is that I wanted her to be so happy that even when I fell short in my performance at work I tended to make the reality of the situation seem a little more successful, fruitful or promising than the deal actually was.
Because I was the provider and I had everything under control, just knowing that I would keep swinging the bat daily and hopefully hit that homerun to make everything better. Come to find out, those homeruns were becoming less and further apart, so then I began to blame the industry, the economy, the customers and anything else I can cast the blame off of me and onto something else.
One day it clicked, and I was finally able to speak the truth of my life’s results to myself. I got comfortable with the fact that I was trying to control all these outside factors thinking it would provide me results and happiness, while I absolutely lost myself along the way, I finally started to understand FAITH.
FAITH is fully submitting to the fact that you have no control over anything that can actually happen from this point forward and you cannot go back to change anything that has happened in the past. In fact, you have no control over anything other than a few things.
1 – What you put in your mouth. We truly are what we eat and drink. Is it considered to be Fuel to help you get the most out of your body OR is it food to feed your false cravings that your body is telling you that you have? We will dive into Fuel vs Food shortly.
2 – What you allow to influence your mind. They always say that you are who you hang out with and this couldn’t be any truer. Who are you following on social media? Are you watching TV or are you reading a book? If you are watching TV, what is it that you are feeding your mind with? Who are you hanging out with in your social circles? If you are asking yourself these questions and you are realizing that any or all of these areas are keeping you for being the best version of you at any time, then it is time to change the channel and the circles you hang with… immediately.
3 – What you allow to come out of you mouth. What you say can make such an impact on your audience’s lives…. Good or bad! Furthermore, we live in a keyboard and cell phone world that makes us feel invincible while posting or making comments out there in the social media world and beyond. Be careful with what you allow out there to be heard and/or read. Here is the secret… if you focus harder on number 1 and 2 above, then this part becomes real easy.
The rest…. Let’s leave all that to FAITH in your Higher Power, and realize that Higher Power is Love. The more we can pour into love and gratitude; it will make for a happier and more enjoyable life for all.
FAMILY is everything! When I was diagnosed on December 22 of 2017, it was my FAMILY that rallied around me first. Everyone came together to let me know that I was not going to fight this disease alone, and that we will face whatever the disease and treatments would throw at me, together.
For me, a tight FAMILY unit helped raise me on both sides of my FAMILY tree. Love and support from my FAMILY has been something that I have been accustomed to my entire life growing up. Whether on the sports fields or any of my life’s other endeavors, they were there. I feel incredibly blessed to have this be my reality, as I know that many people suffer from not having much to any family support at all.
Throughout my collegiate athletic career, I formed some incredible bonds with my teammates that have become FAMILY bonds as well. I call these men brothers because that is exactly what they are.
I was also very blessed throughout my life to build some amazing relationships with some incredible people from back in the school days all the way through my adult life to this point!
Yet none of these people are from my same bloodline, nor backgrounds and cultural or religious beliefs, but I consider them all BROTHERS and SISTERS for life!
I am telling you this because the FAMILY that I am speaking of in this section is the FAMILY that has formed around you throughout your life. Bloodline family, best friends, teammates, co-workers, mentors, coaches and bosses just to name a few to get your wheels spinning. It is time to realize you have more FAMILY around you than you may think ready to jump in and be there for you at a moments notice.
What I have learned throughout this journey while discovering all the FAMILY that I have around me, is that the daily deposits of love that I cast off to my FAMILY, then turn into daily deposits of love that come back to me. The best part is the love and gratitude is then amplified within me every single day.
To sum this up, I will share with you the truest meaning behind this section and how it with benefit you.
When you share your pain with those that care for you, then the pain gets divided among that group and the group can then know how and when to help you get through a difficult time. Whether it has been phone calls, text messages, prayers or financial support, God continues to provide just what we need because of the FAMILY rallying around us to pick us up.
On the other hand, when you share your triumphs and successes with this group then the successes gets amplified and fills your heart, mind and soul with energy to keep striving and thriving through anything life or cancer can throw your way!
We were not put on this earth to be in it alone yet we currently live in the loneliest society we have ever lived in due to pressures that we allow to control our happiness. Your happiness is waiting inside of you to truly be tapped into and understanding FAITH and whom your FAMILY is will help you find it.
How we FUEL our bodies directly relates to everything we actually get out of life. I never really understood the severity of this until my life was put on the line against this evil disease.
Remember I told you how I was a 4-year collegiate scholarship athlete? I was, and I thought I had it all figured out. I played important roles on each of my teams because of my leadership and talents, but I wasn’t leading myself right through any of it! I wasn’t leading myself right because I would eat more processed foods, fast foods, and drink a bunch of sugary and acidic drinks than I would any fruits, vegetables and good ol’ water.
Now that I reflect, none of us knew better because we were all told fast foods and sports drinks were what the athletes were eating and drinking. On top of that, we were told this stuff was good for us by smart marketing pushing bad products that are actually harmful in the short and long-term health.
We cannot blame anyone or any source that was leading us down this path of destruction, because they really didn’t know either. But, now we know and now we need to make a change. The problem is that we continue to have companies, organizations, and media sources feeding us with more bad information about what to feed our bodies to help us become healthier and better version of ourselves.
What I have found is that the more raw and natural we can get within our diets the better our bodies perform and recover. And I am not talking about raw and natural meats, but I am talking about is raw and natural fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts and even more importantly… the right water.
We have all been hearing about the benefits of alkaline water lately. It is a huge craze and there are many benefits to creating a more alkaline environment in our bodies. The problem is that the way that we are being told to do so is actually harming us. The bottled alkaline water that you get in the stores is filled with plastic and chemicals that are used to control the ph.
Don’t believe me? Turn the bottle in your hand right now around and read the ingredients. Chemicals. Oh and those bottles were bottled at least 6 months ago, maybe even over a year ago, expanding and contracting in the plastic with the weather and element changes while being stored until consumption.
Natural spring water from natural springs in certain regions of the world offers our bodies the best minerals and hydration for us to thrive. Unfortunately, we will have a very hard time getting to them daily to get our intake of water.
I was very fortunate to be introduced to a special Living Water that is made by a machine we can put in our home. This machine creates 7 different ph waters to do anything from killing 99.9% of all bacteria, to emulsifying oil which allows me to remove pesticides from my produce, and it offers me the most hydrating, antioxidant loaded drinking water on the planet.
The combination of great nutrition by the way of fruits, vegetables, grains and herbs, living water and the proper use of full spectrum CBD (cannabis) has alkalized my body and helped me become the healthiest version of myself that I have been in over 15 years. And when you feel that good in life and see those type of results, you will smile more, you will be happier, you will fell better, you will have more energy and you will have more will power to fight anything that comes your way.
Stop feeding your body and start FUELing it!
Mindset is everything! A true and consistent positive outlook on life will provide you with a positive and prosperous lifestyle. But, this is a very hard task to accomplish because of all the noise and traffic that buzzes past our head on a daily basis that is filled with negativity, hate, despair, anger, rage, aggression, fear and ignorance. And that’s not even talking about all that comes at us from the cancer battle perspective of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries just to name a few.
That alone is so daunting to control because, well… HOW?
Remember we cannot control much of anything in life, let alone the traffic of life that buzzes by us at rapid speeds all day long. The good news is that we can control how we navigate through the traffic to get what we want and to where we want to go. Being able to FOCUS your mindset in on positivity and winning daily is essential to giving yourself the best chance to win your daily war, but more importantly, to win your war with cancer!
When you throw all of the trials and challenges that a cancer battle brings upon a warriors life, it becomes overwhelming! You will find yourself feeling the pressures of anxiety, depression and all of the aches, pains and exhaustion from treatment.
This is where the fork in the road comes and it is time to decide…
Will I take the path of positivity, growth, winning, smiling, unwavering faith and living my life?
Or will I take the more difficult road filled with negativity, ill feelings, resentment, doubt, fear, and anticipating my death?
By gaining better control on how we manage our FAITH, and how we engage with our FAMILY, and even how we FUEL our bodies and minds, will keep you so FOCUSED mentally, that no traffic jam of life that comes your way will derail you from where you are going.
This is where the daily mental war is won… by not allowing the noisy, bothersome, annoying traffic of life to take you for a ride.
Stay in your lane. Stay FOCUSED on you. And don’t ever allow any outside influence or circumstance of life take you off your track or out of your lane.
A very wise woman, and one of the best nurses I have ever had, was one that was taking care of me during my week long stay in ICU as I recovered from my major surgery at City of Hope in September of 2018. She told me as she walked in to my room every time, “A body in motion stays in motion, Gary.”
This quote of hers become our mantra throughout that week and it is something that I will never forget. This mantra helped me progress through my recovery quicker than expected by reminding me to use any energy I had to move my body and fight through the pain to build up everything that chemo, radiation and surgery did to tear me down.
As I reflect back on the last couple of years, I remember the version of me that was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer. I was standing in at 285 pounds, and at 6’5”, I was able to hide my weight in clothes, but I couldn’t escape from it physically. The weight did not just represent fat. It represented inflammation, acidosis, and dehydration on levels that I never thought I would understand.
Remember again that I was a college athlete, but that I was one that didn’t understand the true value of a healthy nutritional diet. Well that lack of knowledge in how to fuel my body properly became a huge problem when I was no longer able to be active due to living life in a career, a marriage and being a father among many things.
As a result of my poor diet, bad habits and lack of movement on a daily basis, my body became riddled with inflammation, pain, illness and ultimately, stage 4 cancer.
I knew I had to change, but I had no idea where to start, so I just started moving. I began with a morning walk around the block to start my day, and it was exhausting and painful at first, but I committed myself to it because I knew that my life depended on it.
The walks got easier, so I made them longer and harder. I still was not able to jog because of all the pain from old knee surgeries and sport injuries, so I just continued to push myself as much as I could throughout the day.
Then I began to “gameify” my daily routine to make my walking routes more challenging to get more out of my strides. So, I began to park at the top of the parking structure at the office building I worked at everyday. I would walk down the stairs at the beginning of the day and then back up at the end of the day. I would walk to lunch or if I chose to drive to get lunch, guess what…. I walked up the stairs to get in my car and then parked up on top again to walk them back down. The new mantra then became, “Always take the stairs!”
The message here is that our bodies were designed to move, and what I have found that is that through movement, we can heal ourselves much faster. I understand that there will be times that you just can’t or don’t have an ounce of energy to move a muscle.
Just remember this, it is in the little daily progressions that we can achieve massive and long lasting results for a better future.
Unlock your FREEDOM
When we are shackled to the confinements of the side effects and mental stress that something that a war with cancer can bring upon a single person, we can feel as if our FREEDOM has been ripped from us. BUT… I want you to know that you can unlock a form of a FREEDOM within you that you have never felt before!
You know what that FREEDOM is?
Your true happiness!
You can find that happiness quickly and easily if you decide to commit to improving your life daily in these five areas:
FAITH | FAMILY | FOCUS | FUEL | FITNESS
See, our truest happiness does not come from any worldly possession, nor does it come from any social acceptance on any level. Our happiness is not derived from anything other than what we can work on from the inside out of our own mind, bodies and souls.
When we can realize that we actually have ZERO control over 97% of what we try to control in our lives and give all that to unwavering FAITH, the stress levels and anxieties of life fly out the window. We have enough to stress about fighting this disease. Let God take the wheel and HE will guide you to right where you need to be, but not if you keep trying to drive the vessel. Remember that you are the vessel and He is the captain of the ship.
Once you submit to living in FAITH, you can then begin to work on your healing. Start your healing right away within your FAMILY. Remember that your FAMILY in life is all around you and they are there to help you. The help that they are able to give you may not always be what you want, but it will always be exactly what you need.
Within your FAMILY make sure to remember the two most important elements to manage your emotions and mindset along this journey…
Pain shared is pain divided, and success shared is success amplified.
If you are unwilling to share your pains and frustrations, how will anyone know how to help you or to pray for you? This is support that you will need the entire way through because it is impossible to take on all the pains and frustrations from a war with cancer on your own, so reach out and do not harbor it all in for any reason. Your FAMILY is here to help you and if you feel as if you don’t have any family to lean on then email me right now at [email protected] and introduce yourself to your new brother.
Also, it is very important to share your wins and gratitude for life. As you move along on your warpath, you will find yourself living in gratitude more because our perspectives on life just change when going through stuff like this. Share that with those that love you and support you so that your winning becomes contagious.
Take control of what you eat and drink and you will truly feel in control of your life. Stop looking at the things we put into our bodies as food or drink and start looking at it as FUEL.
I have been on an amazing nutritional journey and I am continuing to refine my regiments to FUEL my body. If you would like more information about the things I do throughout the day to maximize my results please feel free to contact my team or I.
Your positive mindset will create the FOCUS that you will need to navigate through the rough terrains that the war will take you on. Remember the traffic analogy. We have noisy traffic passing us all day long with negativity that chatter that we do not need in our lives. Stay FOCUSED.
And always remember that a body in motion stays in motion. Find your moments to create movement. This will not always be easy, but it will always remain necessary to give yourself a fighting chance to power through the side effects and damage that is caused by treatment. Find a way to start working on your FITNESS and then keep that body moving!
I hope that you found this article helpful. This is a formula that I have developed over the years by watching other successful people around me build their dreams. I watch patterns and study how people get massive results.
When I was diagnosed I knew I needed massive results in my life to thrive through this disease, let alone survive it!
So I got to work every day on a quest to becoming a better version of myself today that I was yesterday. Then it became a game because of the athlete I am at the core of me, and I began to set markers and milestones in these areas everyday and just began winning daily in all 5.
Just remember that these daily wins do not have to be massive, but find them, harbor them and grow from them. When you have setbacks, face them with the same conviction that you had no control over that setback, but that you have the control and power to thrive through it.
Now go start winning your day and unlock your FREEDOM!