Inspiring health journey

Mick Bird, pictured with SMART Health Connection’s Mel Smart, is now a regular at the Gundagai Gym.

Two years ago Mick Bird was 48 years old and weighed 135kgs when he made the decision to change his life for the better.

With a family history of heart problems, he also had high blood pressure and high cholesterol and was struggling mentally with his identity and the direction his life was going in, moving into middle age.

“To be frank, I wasn’t happy,” Mick said.

Now, he is a very fit, healthy and happy man, and at 92kgs, has lost a total of 43kgs in two years.

Mick, who lives in Tumut and works in Gundagai, wants to share his story to inspire others, particularly men, to take better care of themselves.

“In the past I had been fit and athletic so I knew what it felt like. I had played over 300 games of Aussie rules footy and run two marathons, amongst other things,” Mick said.

“Raising a young family, moving up the corporate ladder and life’s pressures all led me to overeat and eat emotionally to where I was obese. It’s hard to say that you’re obese, but I was and the moment I realised it, it changed my life.”

Approaching fifty, Mick wanted to live to see his kids grow up, and there was still so much more he wanted to achieve in his life.

“I started by conceding that my diet was out of control. Quite simply, I ate too much and at the wrong times,” he said.

“The other realisation was that I wanted to get fit and strong again. I set some hard goals, started a daily journal and started weighing myself once a week which was very humbling at the start as I had avoided scales like the plague for many years.

“The next step was to get some professional help so I engaged the services of a dietician who taught me how to eat again. This literally saved my life. The next step was to join the gym in Gundagai with a friend from work at the time, and so off I started.”

As he dropped weight, his workouts increased in intensity and Mick started enjoying it more.

“I mixed a superset weights program with plenty of cardio and my energy levels went through the roof. Now, working out has become part of who I am and I can’t imagine not doing it,” he said.

“My eating stabilised. There were no fancy diets just calorie reduction and most importantly portion size. Three meals a day only and to this day this hasn’t changed. The types of food changed also, plenty of vegetables, salad, meats and wholesome foods, with very little if any sugar and simple carbohydrates.”

Mentally, Mick said his confidence has grown.

“My overall output has doubled, opportunities have popped up and continue to do so and I am enjoying every day of my life,” he said.

“I am now a very fit, healthy and happy 92kgs and thanks goes to everyone who has supported me. I can’t recommend highly enough joining the gym and sorting out your eating. You won’t regret it, you will change your life. We only get one chance at life.”

Along his journey, Mick said he has noticed the ratio of women who go to the gym and take care of themselves is completely disproportionate to men.

“Men’s health generally is poor so it would be great to see more guys taking care of themselves. If not for them for their families and loved ones,” Mick said.

Mel Smart of SMART Health Connection, who helped Mick achieve his goals, says being active has been shown to have many health benefits for a person’s emotional, hormonal, mental and physical wellbeing.

“Moving only 30 minutes a day has endless improvements on your health,” Mel said.

“Practicing daily exercise and creating healthy daily eating habits to improve your wellbeing ensures your human body is rightfully nurtured and nutritionally catered for to function at its best on a daily basis.”

In taking that all important first step, Mel recommends:

* setting goals

* SMART Tool – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Bound

* support – create a team of non-professionals/professionals who want you to achieve, who make you feel good when you’re around them

* self-help books

* uplifting music

* writing affirmations and reminders around your home environment

* owning your decision to move within the first 30 seconds is crucial to you honouring the action.

“And understanding that, initially, our neurological pathways want us to stay in the every day known. However, for change to occur we have to step forward into some unknowns and with the right support, guidance and a willingness, taking these first steps can be made easier, but staying in the same comfort zones will guarantee the same outcomes,” Mel said.

“Get out into the great outdoors, join a class, join a gym or motivate a friend to join you on your health journey and start feeling the way you deserve to feel. Your body will thank you for it later.”

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