On Turning 47 – Reflections at 51

By Darren Stehle

On Turning 47. Reflections at 51 on health, fitness and being an outsider.

A few weeks ago I opened my DayOne journal app and it reminded me I had an entry “on this day in 2012”, titled “On Turning 47.”

This November I will celebrate my 47th birthday. I don’t know what that means. What I mean is I don’t feel 47 years old. My friends don’t think I look like I’m 47. Strangers think I’m 30-something. 

A dominant focus in my life has been health: making sure that I stay as healthy as I can for as long as possible, avoiding injury, eating as healthily as possible, engaging in daily physical activity and getting quality, restorative sleep.

This focus on health originates during my childhood. It felt like I was constantly at the doctor’s for different reasons. I was hyperallergenic, often sick in bed for long periods with horrible ear aches and flu-like symptoms. I had documented ADHD and took Ritalin for many years. As a young teen I visited an alternative medicine doctor in the hopes of clearing up some of my allergies.

Growing up I witnessed the declining physical health of my mother. Subconsciously I harboured the fear that I might suffer similar issues and I felt compelled to take exceptional care of my body and mind. I’m also aware that being gay has influenced my body image. I was very insecure coming out in the mid-80s and used bodybuilding to sculpt my body to feel better about myself, and of course to attract men.

Now that I’m 51

Written on my birthday, November 20, 2016

It’s interesting to read my words from four years ago. I can feel how my thoughts and emotions were playing out with the formation of the ideas. There’s a sadness in my reflections, one that comes from uncertainty and the things I am striving to achieve. In many ways I still live with that sadness today, knowing full well that is part of my character, but also because I’m always challenging myself to create, and to do things my way. I am “yet again” transitioning in my career, or should I say evolving as I’m now offering nutrition and wellness coaching.

Christiaan wrote in my birthday card today, “Everything will be OKAY because I have you and you have me and we love us.”

And everything will be OKAY. It is OKAY to be sad, but not to dwell in sadness. It is OKAY to be frustrated, but I know I am living my life the way that I want. I am pursuing my goals and vision and not letting other people tell me what I should or shouldn’t be doing.

And it’s OKAY to feel these things (and to be loved) at 51.

I asked myself why I never published this piece when I turned 47. At the time I felt it was too vulnerable and I didn’t want to expose that much of myself. I didn’t feel like it fit in with the image I was supposed to portray online as a health and fitness blogger, focused on healthy meal production.

The “Be” part of EatMoveBe has always been my favourite subject area and if you’ve been reading my posts from the last couple of months, you’ll have seen I’m taking more risks. I think it’s important at this time, now more than ever with what’s happening in the world, that we talk about the importance of “being” and self actualization, to make ourselves better people and thus positively influence everyone else around us.

Introverted Outsider

November 20, 2012

I’ve always felt like an outsider. I’ve always had very few friends. Some of that is related to my personality makeup in that I’m not the most social or outwardly gregarious person. My health as a little boy and my almost uncontrollable hyperactivity made it really difficult for other kids to connect with me.

Higher Education

In high school I wanted to be an architect but I didn’t have the grades to go to university after grade 13. I worked and traveled and then wound up at cooking school for a year. Then I attended university with the plan to apply for a degree in architecture in my second year. I applied and was rejected, but I continued studying German language and linguistics and attempted a Masters thesis on a gay-themed linguistic topic (which also didn’t work out). After a year studying abroad in Germany I returned emotionally broken and frustrated.

I took a job with Pink Triangle Press in Ottawa to pursue my interest in all things gay. After starting as a volunteer and then moving into an office coordinator position, over the course of 10 years I moved to the top of the ladder. It was as far as I could go within that company, and as far as I could go within that career.

My next step was to pursue my love of health and fitness and I started taking courses in personal training. It made sense to me to move in that direction and study what seemed natural and so habitual.

Non-traditional Career Path

12 years later here I am in 2012. My next step is to impart my knowledge online through articles, books, videos and seminars and grow my business as an “infopreneur.”

All of these career and life path changes are part of what has kept me young at heart. They have also kept me on the “outside.” I have not followed the career path of being 10, 20 or more years in one career. Had I done that I would probably have friends within a particular industry that traveled with me through that part of my life. I would have some of the trappings and possessions that other people my age have, which I do not. Things like a mortgage on a house, a cottage, a car, and one to two vacations per year.

The journey I took was also expensive. Privately studying under an internationally recognized strength coach to grow my personal training business ran me over $35K in debt. Not having any children to raise, I didn’t worry about taking financial risks. It wasn’t until I was 30 (after I withdrew from the Master’s program) that I started earning money in a career (Pink Triangle Press). I was also foolish in thinking that money would come easily running my business.

My Superpower: Self-Awareness

I share my personal history as a way to better understand who I am, and what turning 47 means. My journey is my life and experiences. It is my own. Perhaps it’s also genetics that has kept me so youthful, healthy and vibrant.

Since 2001 I have spent a lot of time reading, studying, and attending courses in personal and spiritual development. I even spent 10 days in complete silence when I sat a Vipassana meditation. I have led a deeply self-examined life. This is part of my calling: to understand who I am and help others do the same with a focus on health, fitness, and wellbeing. 

Back to the Now, at 51

Looking back at my words from four years ago I realize that my path is still the same, yet always expanding. I feel like I have really found my calling within health and wellbeing:

I help my clients break out of the box that limits their potential, to come to grips with Who You Are as a fully authentic person with deeply realized needs, values, and a greater purpose. I’ve discovered that once my clients start expressing and living their authenticity, and feeling more joy in their daily lives, their health and fitness easily improves.

I can’t wait to reflect back on my year of being 51 when I turn 52!

Be well

Darren

PS: If you’d like to learn more about working with me in one of my structured coaching programs, click here.