We meet many people at Stark who’ve been living their life on autopilot, only to one day wake up to discover they’re out of shape, unhealthy and overcommitted. Graham Pierce was one of them.
Having once been actively engaged in life, Graham found himself caught up in life’s daily grind, fulfilling the obligations of everyone else. As a person who has never shied away from a challenge, Graham decided to turn his life around, taking on his biggest challenges yet: to live proactively rather than reactively.
Living reactively will get you nowhere
Out of shape and facing his mid 40’s, Graham Pierce decided it was finally time to start taking control of his life when he joined Stark. Call it a mid-life crisis, but juggling a demanding corporate career, two young boys and personal commitments had been taking its toll on the guy from Newport Beach.
“I always try to live life thinking when I’m on my death bed, what am I going to be most proud of? Am I going to respected? How did I treat people? Did I set the right example? Was I proactive or reactive, and did I take charge of life?”
Graham reached a point where he was questioning whether he was living the life he had always set out to create for himself. Onlookers might have thought Graham had it all: a loving relationship, two healthy and happy kids and an established career. However, he was no different from anyone else.
Graham admits he over committed and neglecting his health, fitness and wellbeing. “I was living reactively and for me that’s suffocating. I felt my life was out of control.”
At the time Graham was facing his 45th birthday overweight, not sleeping well and his entire life was about fulfilling other people’s expectations.
“I was just passively going through life like a zombie and I wasn’t proud of it. I needed to lose 10 pounds, get healthier and feel better.”
Looking back now, what had occurred to Graham seems obvious. To be proactive, he had to first work on becoming the man he aspired to be. He realised if he was in his peak form, the more engaged he would be with life and ultimately becoming a better person to all those who depended on him.
A STARK Naked Photoshoot inspired Graham to become proactive
“I saw a friend of ours who just did a STARK Naked photoshoot, and she looked fantastic. This is when I looked into you guys and your program.”
Life becomes more complicated when we age and the things that are important to us start to shift. Identifying what’s most important is often one of the first places we start when commencing our health and fitness journey.
“Health and fitness in the past were just a part of what I did in life. Overtime, those priorities became secondary to my new priorities of work, family and personal commitments.”
Graham soon realised he was not going to be a good partner both in a professional and personal sense, father or friend if he wasn’t in control of his health and fitness. “If I’m not in control of my body, I’m not in control of anything else.”
Admitting he tended to be a pleaser, Graham realised with so many responsibilities in life you can go through the whole day, week, year fulfilling obligations, but you have nothing at the end. Living reactively was simply not going to get you anywhere.
Determination was part of Graham’s character from the get go
Throughout our conversation, it’s clear Graham is a very driven guy. “I was raised with the belief that if you set your mind to something and have a sensible approach, with a little bit of intelligence and a ton of heart you can do anything you want.”
Graham’s determination and persistence is no more evident than with his professional life. Having started his career as a broker’s intern in New York City and sleeping on his college buddy’s couch, Graham needed to muster up the drive to get to where he is today.
After been rejected from his dream job on the Latin America trading desk thanks to his average Spanish, Graham spent the next few years working towards forming a successful career on Wall Street. That mission included living in Argentina to become fluent in Spanish and knocking on the doors of every bank before one opened. Persistence paid off and Graham began making that dream happen.
Fast forward to today and Graham is a partner in Beacon Pointe managing the private advisory team of 7 and heading up an investment fund initiative. Judging by his success, it’s clear Graham has found his place in the corporate world. His personal life was also flourishing. Married with two little boys aged 5 and 8, Graham had a life to be envious of, but it was coming at a cost.
“My life became all about managing the growth of the business, fulfilling the obligations as a parent like coaching soccer and baseball, and I’m also very involved at our golf club”, reflects Graham. Health and fitness was put to the side as his commitment to his family and career took over. But it wasn’t always that way.
“I grew up surfing, golfing and running. I didn’t enjoy running, but I was good at it.” For someone who doesn’t enjoying running, the idea of entering a marathon would seem ludicrous. Not for Graham.
Being competitive, a personality trait no doubt driven by being an identical twin, Graham has competed in several events including the Boston Marathon.
“I simply wanted to qualify for Boston and I eventually ran it in 2003.”
However, not satisfied with his time, Graham gave it one more crack at another marathon in 2004 to try and break 3 hours. The problem was, he was only half committed.
Life was taking hold and the cracks began to appear
Graham crossed the finish line running 3:20:00; a time way off his 2:58:00 goal. “I was only half committed. My focus was on all the mileage and speed work, but I never committed to the nutrition,” Graham admits.
Determination will only get you so far, but if you let life control you, cracks will begin to appear even in areas of your life at which you were naturally good.
At 12 pounds heavier and moving at a slower pace, something needed to give. Graham needed to rediscover what it was like to live proactively and become engaged with life once more.
Results of pure hard work and commitment began to pay off
Sounding somewhat surprised, since joining Stark in January 2016, Graham has begun noticing some changes that are making a huge difference in his life.
“I’m thinking more clearly and I’m more focused. I’m sleeping all the way through the night and have a lot more energy. I feel better. I want to go to the beach, which is incredible considering for the last four years I didn’t want to take my shirt off.”
It’s perhaps in his golf game, a personal passion, Graham is seeing the greatest physical improvement. “I went from a 7, 8, 9 handicap to a 4. It’s not just cutting four strokes, it’s a massive change. It’s because I’m hitting the ball 25 yards further. I’m scoring a lot better.”
“Some of my buddies are accusing me of being on ‘steroids!”, Graham laughs.
Like many, Graham had reached a crossroads in his life. Choose to continue on the unhealthy journey of exhaustion and over-commitment, or change routes. He chose the latter.
“I was a lot less happy before I started Stark, and I didn’t even realize it until now. Before, life was living me; I wasn’t living it. Now I’m getting out of bed with more gusto, setting a better Christian example for my children, and I’m loving it. So far it’s been great!”
Graham’s final words of wisdom
I always like to conclude our chats with clients with a few final words of wisdom in the hope it inspires others on their path to health and wellness.
So, in the words of Graham:
1. Put yourself first so you can PROactively live your life rather than reactively living it
Living a proactive life allows you to set and accomplish goals that are important to you, verses being reactive and only accomplishing those things that are important to others. By proactively living your life you can be a better partner, parent, business person and leader. This means though taking time for yourself and working on you first. Once you work on you and you’re happy with yourself, you can contribute better.
2. Always aim high and go for the best
But be realistic. Setting realistic expectations minimizes disappointment and maximizes happiness. I find this true for pretty much everything from a round of golf or surf, to friends, to work.