Thursday, November 3, 2016

My Life Changing Moment by Guest Blogger - G. Thomas Rae, RMT

Throughout my own journey as a Naturopath I have met some interesting people and have listened to some amazing transformation stories. This is without a doubt one of them. When I met Thomas last summer, before he started offering massage therapy in Barrie, I was very surprised to hear about his journey, and how nutrition and exercise 'saved him'. I have asked that he share his story with you, as I'm sure many of you will see yourselves in Thomas. I hope you find it motivating and inspiring!  Thomas, take it away!
My life changing moment - A Story of health and happiness

                Yes I am aware of the cliché saying “eating healthy changed my life” It is right up there with “one step at a time” or “today is the first day of the rest of your life”. I am as big of a sceptic as anyone else out there, but this is a true story. A story of how a single decision changed my life in ways I never realized ever could of happened. Thinking about telling this story I feel like I need to go way back (like childhood way back), besides that’s where all of our problems start! Right?

First of all, I’m not going off on some huge tangent of how bad I had it growing up, because there are people out there that really did have it bad, and that wasn’t me. With that being said, I wasn’t the happiest of kids, I always seemed to surround myself with people that didn’t make me feel good. Which brings me to my first point of my story. You know that amazing felling you get when you order that cheese cake with strawberry sauce, or heaven forbid that deep dish double pepperoni extra cheese pizza. Ya, you know what I’m talking about; you ask your server for those nachos and beer and just wait, like happiness is coming, and then it arrives. And you start to eat that hamburger or slice of chocolate cake like nothing else in the world matters, happiness and euphoria passes over you one bite at a time and love is happening in your mouth. Sound familiar? Let me put that thought on hold and jump into the future a bit.

  I have always enjoyed making people happy, even if I wasn’t getting it return (don’t worry I figured this part out too) I had this joy at a young age for cooking, and if you haven’t realized, eating as well. When I was an 18 years old I was searching for meaning and a job, and I stumbled into a kitchen, and immediately fell in love with the life. It was fast, creative, and loud. For the first time in my life swearing was not only accepted, but encouraged! It was like you would try to one up the cook next to you, with who could try and drop more F bombs in one sentence, but mixed in with the fun hard hours, and the late starts (which for a teenager can be very appealing) was this satisfaction through creativity, and even better was that feeling you get when you brighten another person’s day. Every person that has made turkey dinner or a birthday cake knows what it feels like when you please another person through their mouth (no pun intended). I spent a lot of time in this atmosphere, and so many amazing things happened to me. I learned what work ethic really was, I learned how to speak a second language, and best of all I met my wife who is my person and the most amazing beautiful women in the world, and from that 2 of the most special little children.

                So, back to my childhood (hold on tight this may get a little deep). I always have
had trouble keeping friends, so I’d end up being around people for convenience instead of joy. This obviously left a very empty feeling inside. I remember being sad a lot, or just not being happy (yes, there is a difference) and my mother being the loving person that she was always wanted to see me smile and would do so in any way possible. The easiest way to put that smile on my face was to eat that pizza, or go to Swiss Chalet and get all the Chalet sauce I wanted. Of course on the way home, I would shine my big blue eyes at my mother and ask for some pre bedtime chips, because that short term happiness was wearing off, and I was beginning to think of the friends that I didn’t have. These trends went through stages all the way through my childhood and awkward teenage years.

                So we have a young, stupid, know it all who is desperate to grow up kid who relates dealing with stress and feeling happy with food, working in high stress kitchens. What could go wrong right? Well. Just like any adult knows, life has highs and lows, but I wasn’t ever trained as a young person on how to deal with lows. I don’t remember any specific point when I lost myself, but at the beginning of 2007 it began. I didn’t care what I was eating and exercise was such an afterthought. The year passed by and my wife (then girlfriend) and I made a big change in scenery. We made a move to Montreal, what a perfect place for someone that has trouble with coping with life choices. Have you ever had a smoked meat sandwich, or poutine? And I’m not talking about English poutine. I’m talking about a good old 3AM Montreal poutine with real poutine sauce and cheese curds (OK, I know I’m getting off topic). The spiral downward continued, of eating to excess. I began to think it was cool to be overweight and out of shape “ever see a skinny chef?” is what I would say. 2011 brought upon a rude awakening.

                I was doing my regular thing and eating a poutine and hot dog when I had this huge pain in my chest (wow did it hurt) I shook it off. 2 weeks later it happened again and my wife took me to the emergency room. After ruling out heart issues the doctor came to the conclusion that my Gall bladder had to come out. The doctor explained the surgery saying “it is not the end of the world”. He had done hundreds of these and I will be in and out in a day he said. He had a rather stern warning. He said in all of the hundreds of times he had done this surgery I was by far the youngest (25) “this was my first warning” he said “Next will be diabetes, then you will die of a heart attack at a young age, if you do not change your ways”. I remember thinking that I had to stop. I was well over 400 LBS (I was an athlete is high school) and no clue how I had gotten there. I left the hospital a new person. I had the operation and a few months later I was back in Ontario thirsty for change.

  I was so motivated to change my ways, but I couldn’t do it alone. I was on google looking for help, and I came across this cutting edge “new” type off workout - CrossFit (I know for all the CrossFit haters out there. I probably agree. But this is not a CrossFit story. So get off my back). I remember watching the YouTube video of people lifting weights and running and climbing ropes and thinking why not me? Why can’t I be one of those fit happy people? So my journey began, and jumped in head first - I drank that CrossFit Kool-Aid and went back for more. In 2012 came a gym challenge that was called “the best shape of your life challenge” a 3 month strict paleo and 4 workout a week challenge, I flourished. I dropped over 100 LBS and won the challenge.

                I was still cooking at this time, and I remember trying to talk to my colleagues about fitness and healthy eating and they would laugh at me. I was becoming an outsider, but for the first time in my life, I had found a way to prolong that feeling you get when you order that pizza. I was looking good, sleeping well, and happy for once in my life. These unmotivated, unhealthy fools that I worked with weren’t going to take this away from me. I had to change the environment that I was in. I looked at my future, and family was in it. So my wife and I had the most beautiful little girl that I have ever laid eyes on.

    I needed to provide for this family, but I needed to stay fit and happy as well - if only for my daughter’s sake. There was no way that I was going to pass this terrible trend to my daughter. She is going to be happy for long periods of times. I was on a community college website looking at courses and I came across Massage Therapy. It was like the good in my past flashed by my eyes. When I was at my best as an athlete, I had always worked with a massage therapist to rehab injuries. I have always loved sport, and what would keep me on track better then helping people to stay at their healthiest. So I decided to change my career in that moment.

                Fitness, nutrition and health really did change my life. I went from a severely overweight, lazy, immature cook into a Father who is driven by health and fitness with a passion for manual therapy. I will always be working on myself now, I am now proud to say I am at a steady 270LBS (from 450). I’ve done this by regular exercise and eating real food. What is real food? No wheat, dairy or processed sugar, if you can’t eat it in its raw natural state then it doesn’t belong in your body. People often ask me what my goal is. The answer is simple: I just want to be happy, like double pepperoni and extra cheese happy!!

Thomas Rae, RMT, SMT is now the Massage Therapist at Vitality for Life Health Center, and is accepting new patients!

Dr. Anna Falkowski HBSc, ND
Naturopathic Doctor, Clinic Director
Twitter: @NaturoDoctor
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G.Thomas Rae said...

I am overwhelmed with the positive comments I have gotten from this blog. I hope to meet every one in the clinic so I can help as many people as possible feel their best!!

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