And there I was. Standing on a timber podium, hands behind my back as I was dressed in my authoritatively grand blue military coat and surveying a town square filled with over 400 people. And I was in command. It was the 1500s and in these days, you would hang someone for many reasons. Today was a hanging day and that was why it was so busy. Oh, and a guillotine. Who doesn't love a beheading too, right?
There are those quintessential moments in life.
The ones that flip everything on its head. The gamechanger.
I am not a crazy person-- this all really happened. And what's more, this was a moment in my own life that I can chalk up to "Holy shit, well that happened." Do I learn from this? What do I take away?
Because you know what? There are sometimes problems in our lives that we don't realise ARE ACTUALLY PROBLEMS until we discover something different or trial with or firmly train in the solution.
Then it can often be that feeling of... HOW did I not do this before? HOW did I not know this before?
For me, for many of my art-focused and fitness-focused friends... (ok, maybe without the fancy naval captain's uniform and staring down at 400+ dirtied-up peasants and soldiers), THIS moment/tool/solution was hearing about Intermittent Fasting. For the very first time.
But this short story, Part I (the birth of the Fasted Artist...perhaps...) is my own. Others' stories will be told on this blog in the many posts to come, but this one is from me.
As I said, the uniform including sword and blunderbuss, the crowd including townspeople, nobles, and soldiers "under my command" staring up at us, and even two other podiums besides my own with a hangman's noose and a guillotine complete with basket and "set dressed" blood.
We were making a film; a big studio picture in the hinterland of the Gold Coast in Australia. We were at the end of shooting for what's called "principal photography" for this very well-known franchise, and I was lucky enough to be 'doubling' on screen for a role model of mine. I was very grateful for this, having worked my way up and was enjoying the last few days being treated as a cast member (so to speak) and this meant hanging out with the other screen doubles that day as we waited to shoot wide shots with 'B unit' AND attempted to stay cool-- admittedly a nice change for all of us given we'd started as extras.
I remember the day so well because sadly, it was the same day a beloved Australian Football coach's life was taken; another story for another person to tell but nevertheless a harsh reminder that life is short. We need all the time we can make available to ourselves and we want to use to have an impact; to be remembered. Now, that I'm finishing this project, how will I approach this next?
A conversation with one of my fellow dolled-up doubles changed the path completely. Off a comfortable trail and into new territory. Activate 4WD, 'cause we are going offroad here, mate. Get uncomfortable.
Although this wasn't necessarily a conscious choice at the time to step outside my own comfort zone, I knew I was ready for something new and I was in need of something to drive that. A catalyst of change.
Ethan, dressed in a darker-style nobleman's clothes and with his 5pm shadow clearly showing (the makeup ladies had gone easier on him than myself apparently-- "HERE, YOU! Shave again. I see stubble!" they would say, but that was the earlier days). He and I got talking and we got on the topic of fitness after he mentioned that was a passion of his, he would train others, and his speciality was being/getting/supporting a lean build. The man, not much older than myself, had been much much heavier in his younger days, but had found the trigger. That cornerstone to the fitness discipline and lifestyle.
After showing me some of the photos of himself at his leanest, and not being the tallest bloke in the world, he was weighing in at a very modest 150-160lb (about 65-70kg), we started discussing training protocols as we sat in a carefully built and detailed old-style pub-- never to be used in any shot in the final film but still would've taken hundreds of hours to construct and create. Perhaps a fitting metaphor for the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes of anything large scale that might never get used but nonetheless gets done with great care and professional touch.
In any case, Ethan was one of the leanest blokes I'd seen that actually looked healthy at the same time and at this stage, I was a heavier 78-80kgs and beginning to realise that were I to move my acting career and creative mindset into the next stages, I needed to know how to achieve this. I needed to learn.
We were interrupted when we were called to set to stand on our podiums, well most sat other than myself marching around like I'd seen the character do and was now emulating to the impressed shock of the 2nd Unit director. But after a while, we all knew our movements and reactions enough to relax into it and the many hours left ahead of us. Conversation and banter began to pick up again amongst the 20-ish people stationed on our not-so-grand grandstand. Ethan and I got back into fitness nerd mode and I told him it was becoming a much bigger focus of mine after I'd learned from many trainer friends and worked with fitness trainers on and off. He countered with one phrase, that admittedly shocked me a bit at first.
"Intermittent Fasting, dude. You gotta give it a try."
This immediately provoked a million questions (well maybe 3... What is that? How long do you not eat for? How can I ease into it?) so I asked and asked and dug and dug until the day was through. And a few days later, I started to test one of his suggestions which was David Asprey's Bulletproof Coffee method. And although I don't necessarily still use this method, I do still encourage it as a handy starting point or leverage into more traditional fasting and intermittent fasting. Worked for me; gotta start somewhere.
And so began the earliest stages of the journey into a fasting discipline. A journey that has seen me at my leanest, most focused, most driven and disciplined self, and all from a slight change in habit.
To this day, I still stay in touch with Ethan, joking with him that he is my fasting mentor. Now a family man and successful radio host, he jokes right back and says "you only have yourself to thank."
Just PART I of a bigger, more rewarding path than I ever could have imagined.
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