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Getting Serious About Health & Sailing

It was a beautiful day to be on the Chesapeake Bay. 10 knots of wind, the boat was performing great. It was just me and my 15 year old daughter Maya. It was her first time sailing and she loved it.

As we were at our turnaround point I reached for the winch handle and I felt it. A "ping" in my back. Shit.. this is not good. I wasn't doing anything strenuous, just turned and reached the wrong way and there it was. My lower back started to lock up. Here I am with my daughter, her first time sailing, and I need to get this thing back across the bay, dock it, and I'm in serious pain. I was able to push through but I beat myself up pretty badly for being in that situation with her.

I realize that I could have called Tow-Boat US for help but I'm a little more stubborn than that and my ego would not let that happen.

But this was also a smack in the face. I plan to do some big single-handed trips in the future. What would I do 1/2 way to Bermuda?

For the past few years I have let myself go. I am a tech exec and I sit... a lot. I have been carrying an extra 45 lbs and I have come to realize it is putting my future in jeopardy. But what happened? I wasn't always this way.

When I was younger I craved adventure. I surfed, mountain biked, and even moved out west to give pro-snowboarding a try. It was easy for me to stay in shape. I could eat whatever I wanted, drink my face off, and still bounce back and crush the mountain again.

But those days are gone. 54 Years old and my body is telling me to cut the bullshit.

And it's not just the physical. My unhealthy living has also been impacting me psychologically and emotionally. Daily life in an extremely high-stress job is very difficult when my body is a wreck. Audacious meals with clients, alcohol, and constant snacking on garbage takes a huge toll on my mental health. I have started to get into a serious brain-fog, so serious in fact that I started to worry about my cognitive function. (Not very captain like.)

This is not me. This is not who I am inside. This is not Mike D. And if I truly want to reach my dream of a big sailing journey I need to prioritize that I am in working condition... not just the boat.

Similarly to how I approached the refit of my boat Raggamuffin, I have done the same with my own personal refit. For the boat I visualized the goal, what she would look like and how she would operate. I sat for hours in the boat yard staring at the various parts of her and visualized the process of her refit. I researched every part of the boat and leveraged many online resources to make a plan and execute on it. I'm still executing but the plan has been working.

So for myself I researched as much as I could about what a healthy plan and future will look like for me. I studied things like insulin resistance, it's causes, it's impacts, and how to reverse it through better health. I cut out sugar, carbs, caffeine, and alcohol. I reduced my meals through intermittent fasting, started biking, and I am already 1/2 way to my goal.

When I think about it, all the work I have put into refitting my boat, just to have myself be the faulty gear on board is absurd. And that can be said for life in general. If I want to live a fuller life, I cannot do it in a derelict vessel. I cannot be there for my kids in a meaningful way if I am sick.

And I know that even after I have finished the refit of my boat the work doesn't end there. The upkeep and care that I need to give to her is the requirement for her to also take care of me. And my body, as a vessel, is no different.


Mike D. is the founder of Sail Junky Magazine. Striving to find more purpose in life, Mike writes and shares about his journey to rediscover his passion for living a fulfilled life, especially through the medium of sailing.

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