My Journey to Better Health by James Worford
In Oct 2016, the shift in my understanding of what physical health meant started with a CrossFit Competition in Pensacola where the judge, "Leo," commented there was no rep consistency in a workout out of a 21-15-9 rep scheme of back squats (95pound bar) and burpees over the bar. My excuses were I was not going low enough in squats (impaired mobility) and my age of 48 at the time. Two weeks later, I had my yearly doctor appointment, and lab work numbers were all over the place.
After those two situations, I realized that I couldn't outwork a bad diet and that my responsibility was first to GOD. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 states, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So, glorify God in your body." Then, the question for me with my responsibility to Him first became how do "I" honor God with my body in how I treat it and what I put in it.
That day I committed to making a change in my eating habits. But first, I had to change how I viewed food. The verse that came to my mind was 1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV). It says, "All things are lawful, but not all are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up." I initially used that verse and took up a Paleo diet for 21 days. Granted, I'm not a fan of any diet plan because you can only keep up with those for so long. But, it was a jump start to what I could and couldn't live without.
My diet currently includes chicken, fish, fruit, vegetables, and whole grains with little to no processed sugar. Nothing special. However, I can count the number of fast-food meals I've had on one hand in the past six years. As a result of the changes, I have experienced better lab work, more energy, and better movement.
My initial struggle in making this complete lifestyle change was a lack of support. I would say no thank you to food that didn't fit my plan, and people would press into my choices. However, in time most have come along and accepted my intention to be healthier. Sometimes I must remind people of Paul's words from Romans 14:3 (ESV) to the church in Rome, "Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him." I have setbacks, but I remind myself of my goals, do a mental reset, and continue.
It is easier to do what God calls me to do with a healthier me, for God, myself, and as a parent. Both my parents suffered from heart disease. I want to be around for my child, Mari Olivia, and also, as she gets older, I don't want her to have major concerns for my health. She watched as I cared for my aging parents, and I don't want to put her in that situation due to my unhealthy choices. We all need help as we age, but we can often decrease the amount of help in how we take care of ourselves.
Has working out always been a part of your lifestyle? If not, when did it become a priority?
I've participated in some form of exercise since my late teens. I wasn't an athlete in high school. However, I attended a Military Jr College and served several years in the National Guard. As a result, there was always a need to stay fit to pass a physical fitness test. During that time, I picked up the workout bug, and since then, I've done different things. I've done bodybuilding, running (5K to 1/2 Marathons), and group fitness classes (Bootcamps, Kickboxing, and Spinning) for the past three decades. I've worked out in the CrossFit community for the last several years.
What are your favorite activities that aid in your physical health?
Mobility exercises are not something I initially cared about, but at 53, it has proven to be essential. I'm starting to enjoy it as well. These days before bed, I do a series of mobility stretches to increase my mobility from an app called RMWOD (Range Of Motion Workout of the Day).
What is your favorite recipe/food?
I don't have a favorite recipe, but I love spicy ethnic food. My focus is more on eating as clean as possible, and the spices give it great flavor.
Any advice for other men?
What works for me may not work for others, but first, find a purpose outside yourself and work toward a plan you can sustain.