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A Healthy Body Is A Healthy Mind

by Richard Norris on May 28, 2012

A Healthy Body Is A Healthy Mind

This is a legacy from my Dad. I miss him so much. I can still hear his voice from years ago when he started to emphasize this message time and again to me and my older brother, Andrew.

My Dad competed in the pentathlon and was a boxer whilst in the British Army. When he got out off the army he found rugby. He played that into his 60s!! Along the way we shared many an hour (precious time is his busy life) going for a run down the track, going for a swim, playing squash or latterly (when I got too fast or beat him) playing golf or just going for a walk down the country lane.

My Dad made sure that sport was an important part of our lives- an integral part of our self-leadership. From as far back as I can remember his adage always seemed to be a central part of our lives. Dad linked healthy bodies with a clear and effective mind. He was living proof. He walked the talk. He honoured God, whether he knew it or not. Keeping our minds and bodies sharp is "taking care of the temple" of our bodies with which God has blessed us.

My brother and I got involved in competitive swimming when we were in primary school. My brother was the better swimmer and enjoyed it more than me…at least in the beginning. I had asthma like my Dad. He never let that stop him and he did not want it to stop me. He had heard from doctors in those days of the early 70s that swimming was good for people with asthma. He joined Masters swimming. He sat me down one day when I was 9 and asked if I wanted to swim. I said "No". That did not stop Dad. He made a deal with me. If I swam for a year on a local team and did not want to do it anymore I could say so and that would be that. Well, a year passed and when he asked me I said "No" again.

However, this was one of those pivotal moments when "father does know best".

This time my Dad exercised his rightful authority as a parent because he knew better than I did. I became a competitive swimmer for 23 years! At times I was training 4 1/2 hours per day and more than 69,000 metres per week. Along the way me and my brother had time to play ice hockey in the winter, soccer in the summer and the other odd sport along the way. I was addicted!!! I am a fit-aholic!

In addition to these sports I got into triathlons, aerobics and, generally, anything that allowed me to sweat and keep myself in shape. Indeed, fitness has always helped me to keep my mind clear and alleviate the strain of other adverse factors, trials and tribulations in my life.

But please note…my father asserted that if our grades ever slipped our sport would stop. Education was very important to him…considering he had nothing more than a grade 10 education. I bought into this because I so admired my Dad. As a result my brother and I became highschool scholars. I got admitted into veterinary college. Although I am no longer a veterinarian I am still an avid student. There is always something new to learn. My education has not stopped. I am always keen to grow my mind.

Food also impacts our bodies – for good or ill. When I was a kid we always ate well. We never overindulged. Kinda hard since any indulgences were sweated out of our bodies. I never did like alcohol so that has not been a part of my life. Today, I predominantly eat vegetarian with the occasional foray into fish. I must confess my one indulgence is chocolate. However, at certain times I fast from it and those other things which I, at times, allow to have some control over me. Call it self-awareness – an important attribute in self-leadership. So chocolate, bread, biscuits and a few other less healthy eating options go on hold – sometimes for weeks or months. Hey..I am human.

My father made a pact with my brother and I when we were young. He did not like smoking and believed it was an unrealized threat to our health.  So, he sat us both down and encouraged us to not smoke until we were 21. If we did that he would give each of us $1000. Whether that was a correct approach or not, that worked. My Dad proved to be smarter than the average bear. My brother and I achieved that objective and along the way entrenched in our lives habit patterns that became a shield to unhealthy life choices. Those habit patterns stick with us today. We both enjoy our regular endorphin fix. We both make time to keep fit. Me? I am just getting back into triathlons and really enjoying it!

We both have families. And you know what I find myself already saying to my two kids, Dreanna and Jensen?

A healthy body is a healthy mind. 

And they already get it!

Live it. Lead it. Be the example.


Your Power Play

 Make one realistic healthy choice for your body and your mind today. Commit to it. Ask someone to hold you accountable.



tn Rest cropped To Be A Leader Be True To Your Values

Dr Richard Norris is a self-leadership expert who equips and empowers aspiring men from the boardroom to the locker room to the family room to lead the life they deserve and desire. Clients find Richard’s practical, simple and easy to implement tools, tips and techniques deliver quick results and progress their Journey of Success. Richard’s own self-leadership has developed from a diverse career of experiences as a veterinarian, army office, competitive swimmer, award-winning coach, speaker, author, husband and father.





{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Emilie May 31, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Thanks for sharing your story here. It is very powerful, and makes me think about how I am leading my kids…by example and encouragement. Now to make sure I stick to it!


Kelly Menzies May 29, 2012 at 6:41 pm

It is so true Richard. I now exercise for a minimum 30 minutes every day and I now love to run. This helps to keep my mind clear, especially when life happens!!!


Richard May 29, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Good for you Kelly!


Damon Mackey May 28, 2012 at 2:01 pm

Thanks Richard. Especially powerful for me. Working 6 days a week for 18 hours a day hasnt left me much time to exercise. Just making a list yesterday of small things I can do to live more healthy. I did this because I beleive that one of the many benefits of exercise is a clear mind. I also have one more thing to add. When I was in my early 20s in university, I spent one summer as a mountain bike guide on the Downieville Downhill in the beautiful Lake Tahoe area and. I found that if you are getting exercise at what you love to do, you get “stoked” ( I know that is a very Californian thing to say but nothing else truly captures the meaning of what Im trying to say) What I mean by “stoked is excited to be alive. Something that stays with you long after the endorphine rush fades away. Like fuel to stoke a fire that keeps it burning for a long time. I really believe that if you can semi-regularly do what makes you stoked, it makes you more energetic, outgoing and powerful in what your doing.

Getting back to the point where I have time for a weekly ride is the goal for this year, so that I can be stoked and a more positive and energetic person in all I do.

Anyway, thats my two cents and then some. Thanks again for the great article.


Richard May 28, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Great stuff Damon! I too get stoked every time I am doing what I love – at the gym, in the pool, speaking, chatting with my wife, Nancy, or just playing with the kids.

Here is a Power Play for you. Schedule your rides first in your diary and work the rest around that.

Be Awesome!


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