I just read about Fauja Singh, 100 years old, who just completed a full marathon. By the time I lifted my jaw off the floor I had read all I could on the man. He’s a vegetarian, eats a low fat diet, won’t consume rice or caffeine, and runs 10 miles a day in training. He strives to be positive, doesn’t get offended or angry, focuses on charity work, and advises that to be happy and live long we must do what we love, give back, live stress free, and eat to live, rather than live to eat.
It occurred to me this man is an example of someone who eats what fuels him properly and doesn’t eat what doesn’t fuel him properly. I think we all need a different diet and discovering what that diet consists of is no easy feat but it sounds like he’s done it. It’s clear he also knows how to live a stress free life, something I have always seen as impossible. Yet, here is someone who has endured stress. He lost his wife a long time ago. His son died prematurely. He used running as a way to get busy and focus on something, as a way to cope. He doesn’t have much education, was a farmer in India before he came to live in England, but he seems to know all the secrets to happiness and health and actually practices them.
For some reason his story provides me with a lightening bolt of a paradigm shift. I feel renewed energy to eat only when I’m hungry, not paying attention to people who say one should eat often in order to avoid feeling hungry and then binging. Hunger doesn’t make me want to binge, it makes my food taste better. I’ve heard people say that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to the Kenyans who run amazing races or people who stay active into their 90’s like this man. Yet, why not? We’re human just like them and what these people do with their bodies is inspiring. I know that I am at my current level of fitness in part because I grew up thinking that a mile was a long distance on foot. Whereas people who grow up walking several miles to and from work or school each day don’t see a mile as a long way at all. Their knowledge of a mile is so different and as a result, what they see as possible is very different from what I see as possible.
This man’s story provides me with a renewed perspective in how I think about our bodies and what is possible. Surely I can run more if a 100 year old man can complete a full marathon. Perception is key. If I believe a 10 mile run is doable, does that make it more doable? I once thought that keeping my blood sugar below 250 most of the time was impossible. Then I looked at it different. I believed keeping it around 100 was doable. It’s not easy, and like running each day, it takes discipline and preparation, but I did it. When I stopped the discipline surrounding what I ate and when I did or didn’t do something, that level of glucose management fell away. However, I know it’s within my reach again. All I have to do is firmly know it’s possible and act on that belief, ignoring all others.