Have you ever met someone who was so encouraging and inspiring that you wish you could take an ounce of it to get through your life? I’ve ran across a few of these people in my lifetime but the first one is one of my parents’ oldest friends. We shall call him “Phil.”

I remember at a very young age being attracted to Phil.  Phil shined this beautiful light and you couldn’t help but be attracted to it. I heard a voice on the radio last week and it made me think of Phil.

A little back story on Phil. Phil grew up in an underprivileged area of my fair city. In a major flood in 1951, Phil retells stories of being on his roof with his family, waiting for help.  Most of their belongings had washed away. That must have been the time he moved into my parents’ neighborhood.

See, this was middle-of-America in the 40’s and 50’s. My parents weren’t just dating in high school (they went to different ones), they grew up on the same street. To this day they keep in touch with their friends from the old neighborhood. It really is a cute little snapshot into our history. My how times have changed.

Anyway, Phil became a Marine. When he got back he got married and had two baby girls. I’m not sure how old the girls were when their mom left Phil. Regardless, in the early 1970’s Phil became a single dad with sole custody. Phil’s story isn’t THAT story though.

Joe Weider, NOT Phil

The man I know, now in his 70’s even, can nearly break your neck with his hugs. He has always reminded me of Joe Weider…  muscles, mustache and all.  He was the first muscley man I ever remember. I recall going to his home as a child and he had a small room in his basement just for working out. To this day he is very health conscience and has always been encouraging my parents to live a little differently so they could enjoy life to its fullest.

Past his muscles, Phil is the most engaging communicator I’ve ever known. When you talk he is genuinely interested in your every single word. He makes you feel like there’s no one else in the room when you talk to him. And he’s so positive too. He always has encouraging words to say no matter the topic.

I’m surprised his daughters are not astronauts or entrepreneurs, because with a dad like that the sky is the limit.  I think about him often, as an inspiring healthy individual and as a dad and grandpa.  A natural born, and effective, leader.  I ponder if these traits are because of the marines or if they are because of the hardships he had as a child.  I wonder if he just got better as his hardships refined him, not DEfined him.

I think about him now and wonder how old age is treating him.  I look at my parents, who aren’t in the best shape but not that bad off either, and wonder if one lifestyle is better than another.  I think the answer is a resounding yes and here’s my thinking:

Take the health stuff out of the picture…  the muscles, the races, the everything.  Think about the personalities or the effectiveness of the person…  the light that shines.  Of all the health conscience people I’ve met, they smile a lot, and they enjoy people and doing things together.  Their happiness isn’t derived around a plate of food or fermented drink, it is in raw interactions with others.

There is a fine line, yes, between treating your body as a temple and also being self absorbed.  However, I think of the individuals who do treat their body as a temple and how they live as people.  Those are the people who are excited to have their feet hit the ground in the morning.  Those are the people who are excited to breath in air.  Those are the people who are excited to eat the food from the land.  Those are the people who are naturally excited to be alive.

I don’t know about you but I would much rather be excited about waking up in the morning than to be hitting snooze 5 times.  I would rather choke down one drink of my super greens than to have to take high blood pressure medicine.  I would rather wake up one day at 55 and realize I’ve been running races for over 20 years.  I would rather be that elderly lady I see at these races than that lady on the sidelines who is too afraid to take that first step into a gym.

All happy endings start with a beginning.  Like Phil’s, they start with losing your home at a young age.  They start with living an unorthodox life of a single dad raising two little girls.  The happy ending might be retiring to sunny Florida or traveling Europe or being a missionary.  Whatever it is, I can affirm that living a healthy lifestyle will bleed into all areas of your life.  The good will just keep coming.