Andrew’s Blog: 16kg’s That Changed My Life

My entire life has changed because of 16kg. This weight I am referring to is maybe not what you’d expect. It is not the weight I lost giving me the body I had always dreamed of (this aim is problematic for many reasons, but we will get to that later). It is not the combined weight of my children at certain ages. 16kg is not the amount of steak you have to eat to have your photo taken and placed on the “mega meat challenge” at my local eatery. It is the weight of my kettlebell, and that kettlebell has entirely changed my personal and business life. You can’t buy happiness. But you can buy a kettlebell, and for me, it is the same thing. 

Welcome to my blog!.

I’m an active person. Sometimes too active. I have pushed my body to its limits and asked it to do more than it is able. I have set myself unrealistic goals, given myself too little recovery time and done myself severe damage. When we think of being unhealthy, we often think of 3 of the seven deadly sins; gluttony, sloth, and greed. 

This seems to feed into this idea that the worst thing we can do is sit down and consume, and that’s sometimes true. However, it is important to acknowledge that putting yourself through too much is equally damaging. It is all harmful. I have managed to find a way to set myself regular, achievable goals, and it has dramatically changed my life. I want to share with you the secret. 

As business leaders, we are naturally target driven. We feel in competition with everyone, sometimes even the people in our team. I have certainly stayed later than everyone else, got in earlier than everyone else and asked more of myself than I would of anyone in my team. I told myself it was because I was the leader, the example, the person in charge. However, over time, I realised it was because I was trying to push myself too far. This realisation, combined with my family history of working to an early grave, felt like I had been struck by lightning. The way I was behaving was not long term. I couldn’t keep it up, and so I had to make changes to improve my life. The thing that improved my life was the kettlebell. And the kettlebell is not the tiny mechanism my wife rings when she wants a coffee, but the 16kg weight that has changed my life. 

I started to use the kettlebell in 2012, but with minimal strategy until I met StrongFirst Master Instructor Pavel Macek. Pavel uses the kettlebell daily. He used it to improve his flexibility, strength and stamina and said I could do the same. He looked me straight in the eye and said, “This will change you.”

First off, I didn’t believe him…I have grown up, as you have surrounded by the messages from companies that tell you you need to buy and keep buying things to make you happy, so the thought that I could get everything I needed from one purchase and hard work didn’t ring true. How could I get everything I need from the kettlebell?.. 

The truth is businesses rely on you feeling “ you are not good enough”. And have created multi-billion pound industries that produce pills, clothing, equipment, dietary supplements, shakes, retreats and gyms to keep you buying things that will not give you what you need. What I needed was a kettlebell and a lot of patience. 

Once I bought a kettlebell and started using it, I did not look back. I did not need to spend time away from my family because I had to work out for an hour at the gym. During the lockdown, I swung it every day, and I didn’t spend my time desperately trying to navigate work, homelife and exercise in an attempt to “have it all”. I discovered that you could “have it all”. You just have to readjust what that looks like for you.

This blog aims to share with you how to live a balanced life in a complex world. And the world is only getting more difficult and challenging to navigate, which doesn’t mean we should stop trying to gain balance, but we might have to try harder. That’s another reason why I love the kettlebell. I have been training to become a kettlebell instructor—more on this in the next episode. I love the simplicity. I love that all you need is a 16kg kettlebell to start, and you can engage in physical and mental work that will benefit your every day, every day.

There is a phenomenon called the “what the hell” effect. The “what the hell” is not, for anyone doubting the inflexion, an aggressive “hey, I’m walking here!” type of thing you might hear from a character from a film set in New York. Nor is it a “ahhhh, it’s just another bottle of wine, you only live once what the hell”. It is called the “what the hell” effect because it comes from working on something that you are surprised to find benefits something else. Like when you watch The Great British Bake Off, and you suddenly start asking questions at weddings like “is this Swiss or Italian meringue?” and everyone is very impressed with you, like that.

With the kettlebell, my “what the hell” effect came when I realised that doing my kettlebell practise regularly, because I had made it a part of my daily routine, had dramatically improved many other aspects of my life. The mental and physical differences were almost endless. I had better posture, I had more energy, I was able to dedicate proper, quality time to my family. I slept better, I had improved focus and was more motivated, I was better at hockey. But all that had changed was I stopped going to the gym and started working out, at home, with the kettlebell. What. The. Hell?

Who would have thought that simplifying things could improve your life? It is surprising, because like I’ve said before, it goes against the story we are told every day, that we need more to be happier, not less. You need more stuff, more experience, and as soon as you get it, you need the next thing to make you even better. So I stripped things back. I went from an avid gymmer to an at-home kettlebell practice-type person. Using the kettlebell daily has allowed me to gain perspective, taught me patience increased my energy and, most importantly, given me time back. 

As a business leader, I am sure you are struggling with finding balance. The truth is, we all are. The only thing more common than feeling like it is too much you have to do is believe that you are the only one struggling to cope. We need to start acknowledging the challenges and struggles we are facing and look to make things simpler. 

At the risk of sounding older than I am, none of us is getting any younger. Exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, but it doesn’t mean stretching yourself as thin as you can and then eventually snapping. Exercise should mean having something that you enjoy, that builds strength, not just muscle, and that allows you time to be you. 

I am inviting you to think about letting go of your ego. Let go of the high pressures that surround you in daily life and simplify. 

I was reluctant to give something new a go, so I know how you might be feeling. But I am asking you to give it a try, to let go of ego and competition and find something that will benefit your body, mind, work and soul. I have found the 16kg does that. 

Give it a go. What the hell? 

P.s. Check out my Ten Daily Habits Here