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Fitness guru eschews New Year's resolutions

Written by: Cary Castagna, QMI Agency
Jan. 2, 2014

Uche Odiatu offers three tangible ways you can begin to live “on purpose,” in terms of health and fitness, in 2014.(Supplied)


It’s not that health and fitness guru Uche Odiatu is dead set against making New Year’s resolutions.

It’s just that the annual tradition has largely proven to be laughably ineffective.

“Most people have gotten tired of making them (resolutions) — not because they’re successful, but because they usually break them,” Odiatu says in a phone interview from his Toronto-area home.

“The research shows about 80% fall off the wagon after a month.”

The 50-year-old dentist, however, does have a soft spot for the clean-slate appeal of New Year’s Day.

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After all, he got married on Jan. 1, 1999, in Laguna Beach, Calif.

What’s more, he and his wife Kary — a health and fitness guru in her own right — wrote down some short- and long-term goals in the sand of one of the resort city’s scenic beaches on that special day.

But 15 years later, Odiatu recognizes that goal-setting, much like making New Year’s resolutions, has its shortcomings.

“A goal, either you’ve completed it or you haven’t,” he explains, noting happiness is often postponed until the goal is accomplished. “As soon as you get there, it’s that elation and then it’s like, ‘What’s next?’”

Odiatu, a motivational speaker and corporate lecturer, is more focused these days on what’s known as living “on purpose.” That is, pursuing his life’s purpose.

In general terms, Odiatu’s life purpose is to inspire others to lead healthy lives and he certainly leads by example.

As he explains it, living purposely or intentionally for him is about “weaving fitness into your life, into your relationships, into the tapestry of your day,” which he opines is much more satisfying and fulfilling than pursuing a particular goal.

And Odiatu points out that he can be on purpose at any time — whether he’s talking to a friend about health, drinking green tea, choosing an organic apple, or shovelling his walkway.

It truly permeates his life.

“Goals are nice to have and you really can’t survive in the business world without them, but some of the best companies don’t come across that way. Apple just talks about wanting to build extraordinary products in unique ways to serve people. I’m sure they have quarterly goals, but it’s not public record,” he says.

“As human beings, we make such a big deal about goals, but I think it doesn’t bring very much joy.”

Odiatu cites an Australian psychologist who estimates that in a person’s final decade of life, 85% of overall happiness will come from personal relationships, while a mere 15% of life satisfaction will come from personal achievements.

“Relationships are everything,” notes Odiatu, a father of three.

“A lot of fitness is achievement-oriented and goal-oriented. Meanwhile, it’s relationships built (that really matter), whether it’s family fitness and being a role model for your family, or being a Little League coach for 30 years.”

Perhaps it’s a seismic philosophical shift for the former bodybuilder who has come to realize that there’s so much more to health and fitness than “a six-pack and a biceps vein.”

As he has gotten older and wiser, Odiatu has turned his attention to many of the “auxiliary benefits of being healthy,” including exhibiting mental discipline, having clearer thoughts and better managed emotions, and possessing more energy for his family when he gets home from work. Odiatu also likes to consider himself halfway to his vision of being a feisty centenarian.

“It’d be great to be an active 100-year-old Canadian,” he says. “There’s 7,000 of them (right now), why can’t I be one of them (in 50 years)?”

Some may consider that a goal. But Odiatu isn’t obsessed about seeing his 100th birthday. He’s got a lot more healthy living to do in the next five decades.

“Health is more a state of being, rather than your prescription,” he notes.

For those who are curious, Odiatu’s exercise “prescription” includes jogging five kilometres a day, working out at the gym three times a week and doing some CrossFit.

The former Winnipegger’s definition of optimal health, however, is based on the ideas that thoughts are the language of the mind and feelings are the language of the body.

Therefore, a healthy state of being “is thinking good thoughts and feeling good about myself, my family and my friends,” he says. “Thoughts and feelings are aligned. That’s a healthy body. That’s healthy living.” Visit druche.com

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