Stephen Mosher On Self Created Illness
This is a photo of me taken eight years ago. I looked like this because I worked at it. I trained in the gym seven days a week and I was obsessively clean with my diet. It was important to me and I made it happen.
I do not look like this today.
Seven years ago I went to work in the catering industry. I was desperate for work and for money to pay bills, an opportunity came up and I took it. I found myself confronted, daily, with fresh pasta, chocolate molten cakes, potatoes, cream sauces, bread products, all the things that I never, ever, ate; and when you are poor and there is free food, chances are you take it and you eat it. During my first year in catering I injured my back so badly that I still have not fully recovered from it. After a year of crippling pain in my body and pain in my heart, I began drinking after a ten year hiatus. You see, I hated working in catering. I was great at it and, eventually, making so much money at it that I became addicted to the money. I stayed in the industry much longer than I should have for the money, but I hated it. I hated it because I hate food. I hate being around food. I have an unhealthy relationship with food. More to the point, I hate being around people and food. People are disgusting around food, particularly free food. If I described for you some of the stories I lived through, some of the behaviors I witnessed in the catering industry you would agree with me when I say people become disgusting when they are around free food. I would say that people become animals around free food but the truth is I have seen animals who are better behaved around their food. I hated it. I still hate it. I will always hate it. I stayed for the money and, daily, I ate and drank myself into the overweight, out of shape middle aged man that I am today.
I do not blame the catering industry. I blame myself.
I once weighed 205 lbs. I changed my life and changed myself. I was happy and I was healthy. Then I changed back to the person I was before, not entirely but enough. I am, now, not healthy and definitely not happy.
But I’m going to be.
You see, I went to rehab and stopped drinking. Give the boy a medal. I also became a vegan. If I’m being honest, I am 90% vegan. I still eat egg product. As a middle age man I am desperate for protein. Also, I like eggs. I know that I will give them up in the future; but not today. Otherwise, I eat clean. No animals, no dairy. I think that’s a great way to be. I know that I need to get completely off wheat and sugar and I know I can do it – I just haven’t. Yet. I have an occasional piece of bread or a cookie, maybe a slice of my friend’s amazing cakes. Because of my previous history as a healthy person, though, I know what I should and shouldn’t eat and I have discussed this online and in person with people. Nothing I say here is news.
When I was training seven days a week and eating a clean diet I was never sick.
I have been sick for seven years.
I am sick all the time. I have been sick so many times this year that I have become “that guy who’s always sick” to the people who know me. Even as I write this I am sick. I had flu three weeks ago and went to the doctor for some Cipro. After it went away I got a bad cold. Now I have a sinus infection as well as a diagnosis of being clinically exhausted. I work 20 hours a day most days so YEAH I’m exhausted. And I don’t eat right so YEAH I’m sick.
Because my body responds badly to wheat, sugar, alcohol, preservatives – in short: I can eat NO man made products. I am best when I eat what exists in life. Produce and grain. If man has to make it, I shouldn’t eat it. Now, as a vegan I am going to eat man made things like protein drinks and egg substitute (when I transition) but I am completely convinced that if I can break away, completely, from all the bad food, settle back down into a life of training seven days a week and dial my sleep pattern up from four hours in every 24 to 6-8 hours, I won’t be sick anymore.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
Just as soon as the holiday season is over and I’m not covering for everyone at my job, wrapping up my final photo shoots and all the other mishegas that comes with the December weeks, I will have the luxury of sleeping more and spending more time in the gym, hiking, climbing, biking and all the other things that give a person a life instead of a lifetime of illness. Even as I type I am eyeballing our pantry and seeking out things that must be removed for me to be healthier and happier. I know the equation. I know the answer. I know what it is that is making me sick and what changes to make to cure it.
I tell this story today as a cautionary tale, a lesson, a story with a moral. And here it is.
We can all do this. We can be healthy. We have to choose it and we have to live it. I’m not here to teach anyone but I can lead by example. I can go from being the guy who is sick all the time to the guy who is healthier than everyone else. I was that guy before and he was never sick. Ever. I control my destiny and I choose my path. And right now I choose this: I will no longer participate in being sick. I will no longer make the choices that have made me unhappy. I will lead by example and live in the light.
Here I go.