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“You might be surprised at the opportunities that come your way”, Chris McMahon and Parveen Panwar, Mr. Activated

The critical thing to remember is whatever story you tell yourself is a story and isn’t fact. Focus on what’s right in front of you. You might be surprised at the opportunities that come your way. As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, […]

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The critical thing to remember is whatever story you tell yourself is a story and isn’t fact. Focus on what’s right in front of you. You might be surprised at the opportunities that come your way.


As we all know, times are tough right now. In addition to the acute medical crisis caused by the Pandemic, in our post COVID world, we are also experiencing what some have called a “mental health pandemic”.

What can each of us do to get out of this “Pandemic Induced Mental and Emotional Funk”?

One tool that each of us has access to is the simple power of daily gratitude. As a part of our series about the “How Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness” I had the pleasure of interviewing Chris McMahon.

Chris is a type 1 diabetic, husband, and father who fell into health and fitness a little over a decade ago.

In that time, he coached business executives, marathon runners, and busy parents to lose weight, build strength, and move pain-free without spending hours in the gym.

Chris believes health and fitness don’t need to be confusing and that the moment you are in is where change can begin.

Chris holds the following certifications:

NCSF-CPT

Precision Nutrition Level 2 Coach

RYS Yoga 200 Hour

Certified in Applied Functional Science

Functional Range Condition Movement Specialist


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into our discussion, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about you and about what brought you to your specific career path?

I do not consider myself an athlete by any means, and for most of my childhood into my early adult life, I avoided exercising.

I was blessed with a fast metabolism and therefore ate when I wanted, but it came at a cost. On my tenth birthday, I started to deal with a terrible stomach ache that lasted for a few months. By June of that year, my parents and the doctors were at a loss.

In a final attempt to solve my stomach issues, my father suggested having me tested for diabetes. My pediatrician almost chuckled when the test was brought up — after all, I was a healthy ten-year-old boy who was skinny, active (to some degree) and didn’t display any of the common symptoms.

My father persisted, and by the end of the day, I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. My pancreas no longer produced insulin, and my blood sugar was spiking daily. Stomach aches, frequent urination, and napping during the day were all clear signs that were overlooked.

Since being diagnosed over 20 years ago, I have witnessed the landscape of diabetic research shift, and it has been amazing to be a part of it.

When I entered the Health and Fitness industry, it was purely a survival job. Slowly but surely, I began to realize my passion for change and personal development was laid when I became a diabetic.

My day is full of many small habits that I have enacted to change my nutrition choices, and they have allowed me to manage my Type 1 Diabetes.

Witnessing the power of small change inspired me to dive headfirst into behavior change and the current coaching business I own.

I help busy men and women lose weight, move pain-free, and gain strength without spending hours in the gym. All of this is possible by focusing on small, deliberate changes that they follow every day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

After ten years working in health and fitness, I can still be thrown for a loop. In April of 2020, my wife and I welcomed a baby boy named Thomas James into the world. It is hard to put into words how much joy filled my heart that day. With-in moments of his delivery, we learned my wife had tested positive for COVID-19. Suddenly a moment of pure joy was interrupted by a wave of fear and anxiety for our well-being and Thomas’s safety.

The hospital staff kept us safe and secure, but due to the fact, my wife was suffering from COVID, I was on daddy duty around the clock. All I wanted was to keep my wife, Maria, and Thomas safe, secure, and comfortable.

By the time we arrived home, we were running on three hours of sleep per night. I continued to take care of my family and work a full-time job as a staff coach for a fitness company. When we celebrated my son turning a week old, I was fired from my job — due to staff cuts.

Here I was trying to balance so many plates, and they all seemed to crash simultaneously. What was I going to do?

My wife pushed me to start my coaching business, and I haven’t stopped working since that moment.

I have realized that sometimes the plates need to crash at the same time. It can shake you to your core, but that inspires change.

Not only do I own my own company, but I get to work with clients I love and create an impact.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why do you think that resonates with you? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

One of my favorite quotes comes from Winston Churchill.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

The first time I read this quote, it struck a chord with me because I was afraid of failure for as long as I can remember. I wish could tell you the exact moment I feared making a mistake, but I can’t.

I am a recovering perfectionist, and the thing that has managed to set me free is celebrating my mistakes. I now understand that the failures lead to the breakthroughs that you are often searching for.

My son was born, and a few days later, I was fired from my job. At that moment I could have rolled into a ball and given up; however, there was so much more at stake — it was about my family.

I stopped, looked, and listened to what was right in front of me — an opportunity for change. I pictured what I would have one year from the day I was let go from my job and made a choice to start acting as if I was already living that life.

My ability to push forward has opened so many doors, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story about why that resonated with you?

When my business coach and mentor, Jess Glazer, suggested that I read the book “Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself” written by Dr. Joe Dispenza, I couldn’t imagine the impact it would have on me.

I was unaware of the amount of time I spent living in the past. For instance, if I made a decision and for whatever reason, it didn’t work out, I would label myself a failure.

But “Breaking The Habit Of Being Yourself” explains that you must understand that your past experiences provide you with the knowledge you can use to your advantage for your future self. So, the mistake isn’t a mistake at all — it needed to happen for you to get to the next phase.

You can learn, grow, shift and pivot all within the blink of an eye. If you tie to past decisions, you live in the past, and therefore, it becomes harder to change.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

My small group coaching program, Project: Aligned & Alive — is designed to help busy men and women lose weight, gain strength, and move pain-free without spending hours in the gym. How do we do it? By gaining clarity on what is truly important in life and learning how to live a value-driven life.

There is accountability within-group coaching, and it is truly amazing to watch a community of like-minded individuals form. I believe a rising tide lifts all ships and the results speak for themself.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

The one person I always think of is my wife, Maria, and how she has stood by my side for close to a decade.

Maria has always seen the growth potential and pushed me to keep going. When I am learning something new, she is still the first person to ask me to explain it — to teach- to coach.

What you have to understand is while I may seem like one of the most positive people on the planet, there are still dark days. I am a perfectly imperfect human, and I am always working on how to navigate the world. Maria is the beacon of light in the darkest of storms, and for that, I am so unbelievably grateful.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now that we are on the topic of gratitude, let’s move to the main focus of our interview. As you know, the collective mental health of our country is facing extreme pressure. We would like to explore together how every one of us can use gratitude to improve our mental wellness. Let’s start with a basic definition of terms. How do you define the concept of Gratitude? Can you explain what you mean?

Gratitude is the pursuit of joy in all aspects of life.

It is possible to find gratitude in every moment of our life, but it can be challenging — especially when you don’t want to be in the moment you are in. The secret to gratitude has an understanding that a consistent practice of gratitude allows you to navigate the most challenging moments in your life.

Gratitude is how I managed to pull myself out of some of the darkest moments of depression in my life.

Gratitude is how I manage to show up every day ready for the unexpected.

Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?

Finding gratitude can be tricky if you aren’t used to seeing it or feeling it. Like anything, with practice, it can become easier to live a life filled with gratitude. In my opinion, gratitude becomes elusive because it requires you to be present in your daily life.

If you are distracted by past thoughts or negative ideas, it becomes that much harder to find gratitude. Remember, gratitude is the pursuit of joy; however, opening yourself up to what is right in front of you can be challenging to handle.

The critical thing to remember is whatever story you tell yourself is a story and isn’t fact. Focus on what’s right in front of you. You might be surprised at the opportunities that come your way.

This might be intuitive to you but I think it will be constructive to help spell it out. Can you share with us a few ways that increased gratitude can benefit and enhance our life?

Of course! I do not for one-second think of gratitude work as second nature — at least not yet. There are so many things in your daily life that are buried in thoughts and emotions. The deeper you go, the harder it becomes to catch a break; however, it is in those moments that a gratitude practice can save you.

If you focus on the hardship you are in, you close yourself off to all the universe’s opportunities.

Yes, everyone will have hard days, but the speed you transition out of the dark and into the light is dependent on your ability to practice gratitude.

When you practice having an attitude of gratitude, it allows you to become present. Negativity has a connection in the past, and if you are genuinely pursuing joy (finding gratitude), you are in the here and now, which can be life-changing.

Let’s talk about mental wellness in particular. Can you share with us a few examples of how gratitude can help improve mental wellness?

and avoided my present.

It becomes easy to fuse with the stories we tell ourselves: “I am a failure” or “I am not worthy of love,” but those stories are pure fiction. If you repeat falsehood for enough time, your mind treats it as a core belief. However, if you can pause and acknowledge what is right in front of you, you will be able to cut through the chatter.

The horrible thing is happening for you — I can’t tell you why it is happening, but I know that you will have the answer.

The only way to have gratitude is to observe what is happening at the moment.

It is one thing to say yes, I am present; however, to be truly present is to be open and aware of the different opportunities each situation is providing for you.

Ok wonderful. Now here is the main question of our discussion. From your experience or research, what are “Five Ways That Each Of Us Can Leverage The Power Of Gratitude To Improve Our Overall Mental Wellness”. Can you please share a story or example for each?

Clarity. A gratitude practice provides you with clarity of what is truly important in your life. What you chose to focus on is what your reality becomes. Therefore, as you continue to find gratitude in your day-to-day life, you become aware of what is taking your attention, either for good or bad. The choice is always in your hands.

For example, the person who is always on the quest for more never truly gets enough. What do I mean by this?

That person is always chasing the next shiny thing. They are missing out on the beauty of what is right in front of them.

They are unaware of why they are unhappy or feel dissatisfied; however, when you get crystal clear on what is driving you, you can open yourself up to notice the small changes.

Is it that you want the next shiny thing, or do you want to pursue growth.

It is easy to find growth in every aspect of your life when you have the necessary clarity. You can pursue growth, and as a by product, you will find joy which is synonymous with gratitude.

Openness. When you are searching for gratitude, there is inevitable personal growth, and as result, you become open to change.

When someone is fixed on life having to look a specific way it is easy to get caught in a downward spiral when it doesn’t look the way you imagined it would.

When you are open, change comes your way for the better.

A year ago, I lost my job due to downsizing. The easy thing to do would have been going to work in a gym — but as a person with type 1 diabetes my compromised immune system wouldn’t stand a chance in a gym setting during COVID. So, what were my options?

  1. Sit in anger and frustration.
  2. Blame others for my loss of work.
  3. Pause and see the other opportunities

I chose option three, and now I own my health and wellness company, where I serve people all over the world. It was possible because I was open to things going a different way.

Being open allows you to surrender to what is happening, and that takes away the pressure that clutters your mental wellness.

Longevity. Your ability to show up and function as your higher self is directly related to finding gratitude.

I plan on living a very long life. I know at a certain point it is entirely out of my control how long I am here, but you can bet that I will show up as my higher self today and every day after that.

Life is a long game. The day holds 1,440 minutes. For how many of those minutes are your thoughts elsewhere?

When you are away from life — life gets away from you. Think of your longevity as your ability to stay present during the day.

Use your gratitude as a way to refocus and pay attention to what is happening for you. You will start to see it is beautiful, and it will lift the fog surrounding your brain.

Balance. To live a life out of balance is truly a great tragedy because colors aren’t as vibrant, music isn’t as soothing, food doesn’t have all the flavors, and friends and family don’t seem to matter.

To be in balance, you must focus on what pleasures in life lift you — the smallest thing matters.

Is it the cup of coffee your partner prepared for you this morning?

Is it a quote from the book you are reading?

Is it the way your dog snuggles at your feet while you are being interviewed?

I can’t tell you what the answer is, but I can tell you that each of those things mattered to me today. My ability to observe them brought me into balance. My gratitude for each of those moments of joy allows me to pull myself out of the gray moments.

A life in balance is a life well balanced where you understand that the emotions are there for a reason, but they don’t define you.

Value. Gratitude forces you to make decisions from your values. When you get wrapped up in reaching goals, it is easier to make decisions that pull you further away from the ideal version of yourself.

The business person on the quest for seven figures may choose to skip family dinners to work late.

The promotion may come, but then there is no one to share it with.

The anxiety, doubt, and emotions that drag you become less powerful because you’re in alignment, and as a result, you are truly alive.

Yes, it would be best if you did the work, but pause first and ask yourself:

“Is this taking me one step closer or further away from the ideal version of myself?”

Is there a particular practice that can be used during a time when one is feeling really down, really vulnerable, or really sensitive?

I love this question on so many levels because it is something my clients and I work on daily. It comes down to three simple actions.

Why: Identify why you are feeling what you are feeling. If it is a moment of feeling down, acknowledge it and trace it back.

Where did it come from?

What is the actual feeling?

Separate from the moment and understand that you are the author of your story, and you decide what the next chapter will be called.

How. You know what you are feeling, and that is great! How are you going to deal with the emotion?

Think of the smallest possible action step you can take right now. Start small, and you will see and feel a difference.

A simple act such as playing your favorite song or stepping outside into the sun can change the entire day. Don’t think that the small action isn’t enough because little is better than nothing at all.

Now. You know the why, and you have figured out how you will deal with the feeling- that forces you to be here in the now.

When you are in the present moment, you are no longer living in your head. You are open to whatever opportunity presents itself. When you live your head, you live in the past, and change cannot be made in past decisions. Change happens in the now.

Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that you would recommend to our readers to help them to live with gratitude?

A few of my favorite resource are:

  • The Four Agreements — Don Miguel Ruiz
  • Stillness is the key — Ryan Holiday
  • When Breath Becomes Air — Paul Kalanithi

Read them and then reread them.

Take your time and slowly apply the advice, ideas, and themes to your gratitude practice.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If every person would write down one thing they are grateful for daily, I believe it would change the world. To take it a step further, I would challenge everyone never to use the same thing twice.

Raise your level of emotional energy, and others will follow. As the saying goes, a rising tide will lift all ships!

Try the challenge today and get as specific as possible with your gratitude!!!

What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?

The best ways for someone to follow my work would be:

My website: www.chris-mcmahon.com

My instagram: www.instagram.com/coach.chrismcmahon/

My weekly newsletter: http://bit.ly/30ah8IL

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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