As part of Men’s health month at Twosixmag, we at Body Kinect wanted to shine a light on some of our male clients who are making positive steps every day to improve their health.
Our clients live with mental illness and the reality is that in this demographic the risk of lifestyle illnesses like heart disease, obesity and type II diabetes increases.
Today we’d love to introduce you to Mariusz who is making small positive changes every day to take control of his health and happiness.
Mariusz, can you tell us your story?
I have had a long and varied history with drug use that began at 13. By the age of 20 I had used cannabis, LSD, speed and heroin, but I think I was at my lowest point when I was ‘chroming’ on a daily basis. I lost my job as a fitter and turner and started doing petty crime to support my drug habit. Throughout all of this I had the support of my family, who only wanted to help me but at the time I could not see this. I pushed them away because I thought I knew better
So what changed?
I’d had a lot of close calls over the years where my drug use could have taken my life, and in hindsight I was very lucky, although I couldn’t see that at the time. It wasn’t until I was faced with the choice of jail or psychiatric care that I was forced to make some touch decisions. I was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and began to really get consistent professional help to support my illness and come off drugs. It was tough but my family were there for me the whole time and I realised how much they meant to me.
Your family are obviously very important to you, what other relationships did you need to reassess?
I completely changed my circle of friends. I came to realise that the people I thought were my friends were only helping me stay unwell. I came off drugs but then put on a lot of weight. At my biggest I was 184kg. I developed severe back pain and would often get migraines as a result of the long term drug use.
Earlier this year I made a decision to put myself and my health first. It took me a long time to come to this decision and it wasn’t easy, but I knew that something had to change and no one could do it for me.
What are you doing now to improve your health?
I started moving! I joined the Body Kinect exercise program first and just began working in the pool. At first I could only walk five laps before I was exhausted, but pretty soon I was doing full aqua programs and then progressed to the gym. I walk on the treadmill, have just started on the rowing machine and am now doing weights. My back pain has really improved and I’ve lost nearly 30kg so far.
I also got back in the kitchen. My parents are great cooks so I rediscovered a lot of old recipes that I used to cook with my Mum as a child and just got back to eating real food. I also joined the Body Kinect HEAL group where I learnt more healthy recipes and the importance of limiting sugar and processed foods in my diet. I’ve now cut out soft drink, I used to drink up to 2 litres per day, and I feel so much better. I’m nowhere near as lethargic and my migraines have really improved.
It sounds like your now a bit of whiz on the kitchen! What’s your speciality meal?
It used to be a Zinger burger from KFC! But now I love cooking a Polish chicken soup with lots of vegetables. I cook a big batch at the start of the week and it eat it for lunch for the next few days. It’s cheap and easy! I’m also a big fan of anything with chilli in it!
What were some of your biggest fears about taking charge of your health?
I thought that if I had to give up all the things that were making me feel good; fast food, soft drinks, laying on the couch all day, then I would be miserable. But I really knew deep down that it was these things that were making me feel unwell. I also thought it was going to be too expensive to eat fresh food and go to the gym, but I’ve learnt to do it quite cheaply and feel pretty proud of myself for that!
What advice do you have for other men who want to improve their health?
I think first take stock and realise what’s important to you. We can all agree that if you don’t have your health you don’t have much. No one is invincible- I thought I was for a long time but it all catches up with you. Then take it slowly. Make one small change and focus on that until it becomes habit. Then repeat with another change, then another.
And ask for help. As guys, it’s something we don’t tend to be very good at but I realised that people would help me if they could see that I also wanted to help myself.
It takes time, I’ve still got a long way to go but I feel more confident than ever that I’m on the right track.
Article by Kathryn Simons – Founder of Body Kinect