Momentum Podcast: 271
Before And After
by Alex Charfen
My doctor once told me I was the most likely to have a heart attack. 10 years ago I was over 300 lbs and my belt was clearly fighting for it's life.
Full Audio Transcript
I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum podcast, made for empire builders, game changers, trail blazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers, and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum, so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Sure, we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will. We don't accept our destiny, we define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop, and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate there could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters. Clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution, and we always will be.
Before and after. Yesterday, I posted a picture to Facebook, a picture that it's hard for me to look at even today. The title of the post was, "Who is that guy?" And the reason I said that is, in the picture, I'm in my early 30s, it's about 14 years ago, 13-14 years ago. You can tell just by looking at it, I weigh close to 300 pounds. I remember, at the time I was wearing, I think, a 44 inch waist, and if you look at the picture, my belt is absolutely fighting for its life. It looks like it's about to explode. That was back when my doctor told me I was his most likely candidate for a heart attack, and he had an aging population of patients. When I put this post on Facebook, one of the comments said, "Please do a podcast about this story." And so, I think it's appropriate that I do that today. There's a reason that I put that post on Facebook. There's a reason that I shared that with you.
I think one of the biggest challenges that we have as entrepreneurs today is that we compare our worst day to the best day somebody else puts on social media. We compare the challenges, the constraint, the issues we feel, to the veneer that other people share with us. And we compare the pain or the frustration or the irritation that we have in our lives to the marketing and the image that other people have created to show who they are. So I want to show you that it wasn't always like this, that I didn't always look like I did today. In fact, in my 20s, I grew a huge business. Which sounds like an entrepreneurial success. And for the most part, it was. I did have a quote-unquote "entrepreneurial" success. I grew a $250 million company. We had offices throughout the US and Latin America. I had a huge team. I had Fortune 500 clients. I was working directly with some of the most wealthy people, most successful people in the world. I was making a massive impact in the industry that I was in.
But I wasn't taking care of myself. I grew a business so fast, in such an overwhelming way, that I didn't eat the right foods, I didn't work out, self care was nonexistent in my life. I worked seven days a week from early until late. I read a book when I was a kid, or I read an article, that Bill Gates worked every single day in his 20s, so I decided I was going to do the same thing. And I grew an incredible business, and I made a lot of money, and I had a lot of toys, and I did a lot of things. But I was close to death. And when I look at that picture, I remember what it felt like to be in that type of shape.
I have a tremendous amount of empathy and compassion for anyone who is overweight, because here's what happens. You start gaining weight and people look at you like you're lazy. I know. I was there. I was overweight several times when I was a kid. I had [inaudible 00:04:11], so I would stop growing and I would get chunky and chubby, and then I would get tall and skinny. In my junior year in high school, I was over 200 pounds and I was only about 5'6", almost 5'7". I went on summer break, I grew from 5'6", 5'7" to a little bit over 6 foot. So I went from 205 pounds to 160 pounds at 6 foot tall. I know what it's like to be the short, fat kid and the tall, skinny kid. And I know what it's like to feel the judgment of being overweight. But even worse, I know how freaking hard it was.
Whenever somebody says that someone who is overweight is lazy, whenever somebody who looks at someone physiologically and judges them, I always think to myself, "If only you knew how hard they were working just to get out of bed every day." I remember how hard it was. I remember working a 12 hour day, how much harder it was in my 20s than it is today at 45, because I finally started taking care of myself.
I get asked all the time, what did I do? What was the transition? What did I change? And the fact is, I just stopped making myself the least important issue in my life. Because up until that point, I can tell you that that is really how I was treating things. If there was a choice between a business meeting and calling the new account or getting something done and going to a doctor's appointment or working out or taking the time to eat healthy or hydrating or any of those things, I didn't even pay attention to it. And not only that, I was a high-flying consultant. I was flying literally all over the world, meeting with clients, partying, entertaining, drinking. I really wasn't taking care of myself in any way. And I remember meeting Cadey, and she brought this entirely new level of importance into my life, this entirely new level of momentum that I had never felt before, and I remember deciding that I wanted to make things better. I wanted things to change.
And when my doctor told me I was going to die, that changed everything. I decided to take the same level of intensity that I had applied to growing a quarter of a billion dollar business and apply it to myself. I started studying relentlessly and leading and trying to understand physiology and the body and what I could do. My question was, what can I do that's not going to make things worse? What can I do that's going to move me in the right direction? What can I do that's going to make it so that I don't hit some type of a trip wire and I actually have the heart attack that my doctor is talking about?
And don't think that previously, I hadn't had somebody tell me I was out of shape, or needed to work out, or needed to do something. But I let it go in one ear and out the other. I was growing a business, I knew what I needed to do. When I met Cadey, it changed the level of importance in my life of just being around. I wanted to be with her more, and I wanted to make sure that I was there. So I started putting massive effort into getting in shape, and here's what I ... Not just getting in shape, but to getting better. And here's what I found. First, I had to lower the pressure and noise in my life, not in one place, but everywhere. And I did, relentlessly. I remember telling Cadey that I wanted us to change and I wanted things to change. We did everything all at once and as fast as we could. We stopped drinking, and it was spontaneous recovery.
Anybody who looked at me back then would have said that, or I probably fit all of the characteristics of an alcoholic habitually and psychologically. But Cadey and I decided one day together that we were going to stop drinking and we did. We did spontaneous recovery like Annie Grace talks about on her podcast "The Naked Mind," which, by the way, if you haven't listened to, you should. It's absolutely brilliant. We quit drinking. I started researching physiology and I found that a lot of it was simple.
One, hydration. One of the biggest things you can do for your body. The more that I read about hydration, the more that I remembered how many different entrepreneurs throughout history were obsessed with water. Bill Gates has 16 different water filters in his house. Howard Hughes used to obsess about getting the cleanest water that he possibly could. Einstein knew that when he was hydrated, he was more creative. So it just started clicking for me. And I remember, hydration became a massive, massive part of my recovery from alcohol and getting into much, much better shape.
Then, we did one of the simplest things in the world. All the research I started doing showed me how most, not all, and not some, but most of the foods we were eating were killing us. Cadey and I were eating what most would call a standard American diet, for the most part. We were eating a lot of processed foods, a lot of foods that had colors and dyes and artificial flavors and artificial preservatives and sweeteners. I was drinking diet Coke all the time. We were a disaster. So we switched completely to a whole foods diet. We got rid of any processed sugars, colors, sweeteners, flavors, or preservatives. We got the chemical impact out of our lives completely. If you haven't done this yet, it doesn't matter what level of entrepreneur you are, hydrating, switching to a whole foods diet, getting rid of the chemicals in your life, that will change everything in your life.
I remember how difficult a period that was. And if you're going through something like this right now, if you're giving up sugars and processed foods, if you're switching to a whole foods diet, if you're learning how to hydrate, if you're starting meditation, I want you to know, there's some resistance there at the beginning. And if you're going through it right now, then you probably don't need me to tell you, there can be massive resistance at the beginning. You can feel the pressure of wanting to stay the same. You can feel that physiological call for the sugar, the chemicals, the things that you've always eaten. You will feel getting pushed in the other direction. But I want you to know something. As an entrepreneur, when you commit to lowering the pressure and noise in your life, you commit to creating momentum in your life.
Because there are two ways for people like us to get ahead. We can do everything it takes to create forward momentum, or we can drop the things in our life that are creating constraint, that are holding us back, that are keeping us in place, and we will rocket forward. When I was in my 20s, I thought I was wildly successful because I had a big company. I wasn't happy, I didn't have friends, I didn't have real relationships. I was scared most of the time, I was frustrated most of the time, and I was sick most of the time. I didn't feel well, I was stressed, I had heart palpitations, trouble sleeping. I was taking prescription drugs. It was tragic, but yet, I convinced myself I was a successful entrepreneur, and you know what? Everyone around me was willing to tell me the same thing.
What I know now, having been through the experience of aggressively lowering the pressure and noise in my life, letting go of drinking and getting all of that time and energy back, getting rid of all of the terrible foods in my life and what was causing me physiological constraint and making me feel bad. All of that energy came back to be redirected to forward momentum. When I started hydrating and breathing and meditating and giving myself space and time, seeing a chiropractor and getting massages, getting back into shape, actually taking care of myself, everything in my life improved. And the more that I've leaned into that equation, the easier things have gotten. The more that I have lowered the pressure and noise in my life, the more I have to create momentum with. The more I have that gets me excited to move forward, and the more I have that keeps me where I want to be. But I wouldn't have those things if I hadn't given up everything that I did.
And so, if you're in a place where you want to create your own before and after, the question is, what are the things in your life that are holding you back, slowing you down, creating constraint and keeping you in place? Because if you're willing to go through your life and create a list, an outline, an understanding, a reconciliation with yourself of all the things in your life that are not actually giving you momentum, and you start one by one removing them and replacing them and changing them, it will change everything for you. Because this is binary. The things in your life are either giving you momentum or they're taking it away. And the more you get rid of the things that are taking it away, the more momentum you naturally have. It's just physics, it's how it works.
And so if you're ready to start on this journey, if you're at the point where you want to optimize, maybe you're already in incredible shape and you know you just need to start taking better care of yourself, get more help with it, maybe you already are doing a lot of the right things and you just want to rocket forward faster. The meditation is, where can I lower the pressure and noise in my life? And it's the beginning of the contribution equation. The four step process that I teach in my highest level coaching practice. It's one, lower the pressure and noise in your life everywhere you can. Be relentless, don't allow any in. Two, increase the protection and support in your life. That's exactly what I did. I sought advice, I got advisors, doctors, trainers, people around me who could help me become who I wanted to be. When I lowered the pressure and noise and I increased protection and support, here's what happened. My strengths and abilities just showed. I changed as a person. I got better at what I was doing. I had more presence and awareness. I'd built healthier companies, better relationships.
And when I lowered pressure and noise and increased protection and support, my strengths and abilities showed and I was able to go out and make a massive contribution. And that's what I want you to do too. So, consider if you are in a place where you want more momentum, if you've plateaued and you're not getting what you want, if you're looking to move forward faster just as a human being and as an entrepreneur, consider lowering pressure and noise, increasing protection and support. Let your strengths and abilities show, so you can go out and make your greatest contribution. That's what I did, that's what I would encourage you to do, and I want you to know, we're here to help you.
The first step I took when I started getting in shape, the biggest catalyst I had to where I am today is, no question, hands down, hydration. And I know that sounds crazy. But staying fully hydrated and having the water in my system to detoxify, to lose the body fat, to optimize, changed everything. And I have obsessively studied water. In fact, in the last 150 years, we've done some pretty terrible research around water. But if you go from 150 years to 6,000 years ago, it is incredible what water was used for, how it was used, what types of properties it has when used properly with the human body and, here's what I want you to understand, the second you start dehydrating even a little bit, your body goes into constraint. Toxicity in the body goes up. The only mechanism for the removal of toxins from the body is water, so the more you have, the less toxic you will be.
And if you're ready to start creating massive physiological momentum, if you want to make a difference right now, go to getthirstynow.com. Getthirstynow.com, and take my ten day natural thirst program. Here's what it is. It's a ten day protocol, that's it, just ten days, that if you're willing to follow three simple steps that are in the videos, within ten days, you'll be drinking more water than you ever thought possible, and you may feel better than you ever have in your life. And out of the thousands of people who have taken this program, everyone who has come back to us has told us not only does it work, but they're shocked at how much water they can drink, how consistently, and how incredible they can feel.
I want you to have your own before and after, but I want you to share it with me. So when you go to getthirstynow.com and you join the ten day Natural Thirst Challenge, do me a favor. Make a post on social media, tag me in it, tell me you're taking the ten day Natural Thirst Challenge, and I'm going to select a few people who make these posts, and send out a gift. Just to let you know that I care, and that I appreciate you helping us share this incredible program with other people. And just so you know, if I haven't convinced you yet, in my $60,000 a year coaching program, I start with this. Getthirstynow.com, because it's the keystone habit that simply changes everything.