Not ready to die
A Personal Heartfelt Honest Release written April 3 & 4, 2011.
I’ve opted to name my new blog with the same sentiment that I rely upon to approach this next chapter in my life, A.L.I.V.E. and Better. I could have just as easily called it, “Spilling my guts in the name of survival.” You’ll understand shortly, but let’s begin with an obvious question.
“If, Phil, you are in fact “spilling” with survival as the end game, why are you doing this now? We thought you were always honest. What secrets have you held on to and why share them if you’ve held them close up until this moment?”
Ah, a very good question. Why now? I’m about to share experiences and insights that have remained private not in the name of evoking sympathy. I believe (an important word which will appear more than a few times herein) that sharing the personal ins and outs of my recent journey can offer help, support, and a sense of shared energies toward using my own experience for our collective growth and betterment. I believe that betterment can carry forward to personal trainers, to individuals seeking greater fitness, and to those who might feel as if they’re too far gone. It’s a powerful belief and I’ll share from whence it came.
Let’s start at the beginning, knowing this is a living document that will evolve from week to week (https://aliveandbetter.wordpress.com).
My name is Phil Kaplan. I’ve spent the better part of my life as an author, speaker, motivator, educator, media personality, and fitness professional. When asked what I do for a living, my answer is now concise.
I’m a personal fitness trainer.
Over the last ten days I had the most hard hitting wake-up call of my life. I don’t know that I’ve ever had as many thoughts flying through my head as I do right now. I’m sitting outside at Spazio in Delray Beach at 2:00 PM with my laptop trying to get some of the jumble in my head sorted out. I haven’t any immediate plan other than to let the words fly, to set some of the cyclical thoughts free (I will give this my full attention even though the two tan blonde women at the next table are wearing very short skirts – not that I’m looking).
I told you I’d rely heavily upon the word “belief.” Allow me to share a few of my own.
I believe I’m a good guy. I have a good heart, sound morals, and throughout my adult life have remained committed to helping others find betterment. I don’t have any hidden skeletons, I don’t have anything I’m ashamed of, and every decision I’ve made since my brain reassembled from the insanity of my teenage years has been in line with “doing the right thing.”
I believe I was blessed with a propensity for compassion, with creativity, intelligence, rare resilience, and an extraordinary ability to communicate.
Now, I sit here at 50 years old (how the fuck did that happen?) and I wonder why the last decade has had those beliefs shaken. In this moment, removed from marriage, divorce, and the mountainous stresses I’m working my way through, my beliefs are firm, but there are others (one or two) who would likely challenge every one of them.
In perspective, it isn’t that much different than the one person out of 200 who checks “fair” in the stack of seminar evaluations that are almost exclusively “excellent.” It troubles me, and while I should dismiss it as minor, I can’t help but let it sting. The difference is between a momentary evaluation and the reflection I’m experiencing now is, my marriage and the last 8 years of my business took effort, energy, and years of my life. In short, it’s been a weird fucking decade.
Every story benefits from a bit of irony. This irony will not disappoint. I’ve been told by a doctor I have two years to live, and 8 months have elapsed since then.
It didn’t hit me until this week, perhaps because I wasn’t willing to accept it, and I don’t know whether that’s a strength or a weakness. Perhaps it’s both, my blessing and my curse.
Last week I received the result of my latest brain MRI. It showed significant decline and suggested a loss of motor function and language skills is impending in the months or weeks ahead. A pulmonary test showed my lung capacity is less than 40% of what it should be with my pulmonary artery gradually losing function, the ophthalmologist told me my vision is going, and my body is changing in unpleasing ways.
The proverbial “last straw” happened in an explosive tantrum where I literally lost it. I lost my composure in a “discussion” with a business associate, and it sent me over the edge, emotionally, physically, and in terms of the wake-up call I’m receiving right now. I can’t explore the details right now as the episode is too close. It summons up the same feelings that sent me over the edge. Perhaps in a few months I’ll share the specifics of my explosion.
Here’s what I know. With the words, “two years to live” rattling in my head, I’m not anywhere near ready to die. There is a great deal I have to do and I have the most incredible little girl in the world who depends upon me to teach her, support her, steer her, and prepare her for a joyous and rewarding life. My daughter, Brooke, makes the idea of my shutting down an impossibility. There’s just no way.
I mentioned irony. Let’s get back to it. The irony that comes along with my diagnosis and the unnerving prediction that accompanied it is, I’ve spent the past 3 – 5 years developing programs and protocols for others, programs and protocols that will now serve me. Ironically, I’ve become the target of those programs.
For someone who’s touted the benefits of and pursuit toward wellness, I’m not well. I never imagined I’d say that. Health and fitness were always primary concerns in my life.
Today, I am in an unfamiliar place where I need betterment simply for survival. I have the tools. I am going to use my A.L.I.V.E. protocol and my Be Better program (if you’re not familiar with these I’ll provide links as this progresses) to create an entirely new universe for myself, one filled with health, abundance, joy, achievement, and love. I will find a new excellence and it will be the cornerstone of the legacy I leave in 50 some odd years, when it is time for me to step off.
Having been a student of Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, I am not surprised that the theme returns to me often. At this point I’m very clear on the message of Frankl’s work. We need a “why.” We need to be excited about our existence and harbor the knowledge that there’s significance in what is yet to come. As I’ve gone through this period of contemplation, I’ve decided I have an immense power to help people by “activating” an elite force of fitness professionals who can spread an important and timely message. I also have a power to teach these professionals to find prosperity and respect, perhaps beyond what they even know is possible.
On the 25th of this month (April) I’ll turn 51. The week following, I am going to lead a new group of 20 fitness professionals through the Be Better curriculum, a curriculum I’ve conducted for only 120 personal trainers from around the world a curriculum that is proven to serve as a platform and vehicle for extreme growth. As powerful as the program has proven to be, this time through it will be different.
Firstly, I’m extending the curriculum to 10 months so it carries us into 2012. Secondly, when the program concludes, I’ll be alive and well, proving the doctor’s presumption flawed and I, and the group, will remain kindred spirits with a significant message of the power to improve.
I will go through my own A.L.I.V.E. protocol, a comprehensive exercise and nutrition program I’ve introduced to the medical community as being “curative.” Today it’s hard for me to even complete the functional six (the first week of the program). I have to stop frequently to catch my breath. The doctors I’ve seen for my own health do not put much stock in exercise’s ability to restore pliability to my pulmonary artery, but I’m up for the test. This is where my belief will drive me to challenge opinions based upon conventional “wisdom.”
I have powerful evidence to show the anti-inflammatory properties of unique combinations of exercise, and further evidence to show the process of “reversing the disease continuum” has little to do with medication and everything to do with lifestyle, load, and recovery.
I am reconnecting with my true passion. I will use my A.L.I.V.E. program as leverage to build an entirely new business from ground up. I’ll create educational resources, a number of facilities, and prestigious affiliations. I’ll build something that leaves my daughter Brooke with a strong and reliable future, and in putting myself on the line, I’m inviting 20 personal trainers to join me as I share every detail of every step in my eighth Be Better group, a group I’m calling Be Better, 2012.
I approach this moment and every moment that follows as if there are no limits, as if we are masters of our own outcomes, and as if health predictions are simply red flags and warnings allowing us the opportunity to take control.
My A.L.I.V.E. and Better blog will be updated frequency and can be followed at https://aliveandbetter.wordpress.com.
In the weeks to come, I’ll post info, for those who have interest, on the journey and conditions that have put my health in jeopardy. If you want to know NOW, or if you suspect you may suffer with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or Mold (Mycotoxin) Toxicity, send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and ask me to send you the details of my personal experience.
If you’re a personal trainer and have interest in being one of the next 20 Be Better trainers, send me an email with the Subject Be Better 2012. I look forward to a thrilling future!
Note: I appreciate all of the emails expressing concern. For those who do want to know the long story, I’ve added it here at the site: