You’re here! Thank you for taking a moment out of your life and sharing your valuable time with us at Hardwick.Life. No matter how you landed here, even if it was simply by mistake, you were meant to be exactly where you are right now. For most of you, I’m guessing you’re either on a journey to finding your health and wellness, or you are nearing the point in your life when you’re ready to begin the transformation process, and are looking for help and inspiration.
We started in 2014, following a career and season-ending neck injury in Week One of the NFL season. After 146 total starts at one of the most violent positions in all of sports, my body, and our team of doctors decided that enough was enough. My season, and more importantly, my football career came to an end. At close to 300 pounds as an offensive lineman, the first thing I did was to throw myself on a diet that I had created and lost 85 pounds in 5 months. Yes, you read that correctly.
I showed up at my retirement press conference weighing 208 pounds, a stark contrast from the animal that took the field on Sundays and Monday Nights. As you can imagine, it drew national media attention, both in a celebratory manner, and an accusatory one. Tony Kornheiser, of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption, accused me of using Performance Enhancing Drugs on his show. Because how else could the rapid weight loss be explained?
I was laying in bed one night, following my retirement, with my wife Jayme by my side, when the news of this accusation was brought to my attention. Naturally, with a football player’s mentality, I became inflamed and wanted to blast out a rebuttal and fight back. Jayme, being more level-headed looked at me and very patiently said, “Nick, why don’t we just show the world how you were able to lose the weight.” Enough said.
From that moment on, my unquestioned purpose and passion has been to help others find their health and wellness, the same way that I was able to reclaim mine.
Here’s to Your Health
Gut. Joints. Brain.
I was born in 1981, putting me at 38 years old. That’s my chronological age. However, it’s not exactly how I identify myself. After 146 professional football games, 3 additional seasons of college football, and a lifetime of contact sports, my body overall has withstood the damage of that of a 65 year old man, arthritis and degeneration included. Tallied up, with football alone, that was 30,000 plus collisions to my body and brain throughout the years. It’s well documented the potential outcomes and fates of former football players, and others who trade on their physical bodies for a paycheck, including those in the military. It can be an ugly picture, as you’ve seen.
One thing I learned in my NFL career was that my work ethic also applied to the off-season, training camps, and early in the week of preparation during the regular season was going to determine the outcome of the individual games, and ultimately the season as a whole.
Intense preparation led to positive results. There wasn’t a game that went by where we didn’t absorb every bit of film possible, diagnose every blitz that could present itself, and study our playbook for countless hours. That work, more often than not paid off.
It’s no different with life after football. Preparation works in all fields, and especially when it comes to our health. The way we treat our bodies from this point forward will have a major voice in the outcomes that we receive. The more seriously we take our health, the more disciplined we remain and the greater the likelihood of success.
My first head coach Marty Schottenheimer was one of the best coaches I ever had. Every game, he would make it very simple for us. As an offense, he would give us the three things that we needed to take care of to ensure a win, at least on our side of the ball. Very clear, very simple, and very effective.
Having sustained my weight loss since leaving football, I have come to the realization that there are three fundamental areas we have to handle if we want to win.
Our Guts. Our Joints. And Our Brain.
When we talk about the gut, we are at first talking about the gut that I used to tote around: the outer gut or the excess weight. First and foremost, you have to be at a reasonable body weight. This happens by the food and supplementation that you put into your inner gut, along with the exercise that you perform. Which brings us to our joints.
Every pound of body weight that we lose through our diet and exercise has a compounding positive effect on our lower extremity joints by 3-4x. For instance, if you were to lose 20 pounds, your joints would feel as if you have lost 60-80 pounds. That’s a significant impact. What that means is your joints will last longer and continue to take care of your brain. How do the joints take care of the brain?
The only scientifically proven method to stave off neurocognitive decline is exercise. The minute we stop or are unable to exercise, we open the door for neurocognitive diseases. That’s unacceptable, if it can be helped. Completing the cycle, the more we take care of the brain, through diet and proper supplementation as we age, we stay motivated to continue to exercise and pursue our passions, which allows the brain to thrive.
Gut. Joints. Brain.
Handle those three things, and we can continue to thrive.