How I Overcame Many Challenges in 2020

2020 Was a year we will all never forget, and so far 2021 looks like it will also have some major events and ongoing challenges, but no matter what we face in life we can always choose how we respond.

During 2020 I had many mixed emotions and ups and downs, as I’m sure so many of you all did. When all the gyms and studios closed due to COVID I lost the vast amount of my income in one go and although I had my online business Plant-Based Life and adapted to teaching online and doing more plant-based coaching, I was struggling with some persistent injuries and health concerns and had ongoing financial stress and concerns.

I had some bad lower back pain that got progressively worse due to sitting down more doing online work and got to the point where I was in excruciating pain, and shortly after the lockdowns started I caught shingles  All this set me back and I lost motivation, and I struggled through teaching online classes, but outside of that was neglecting other exercises I would usually do and started eating much more. I follow a raw plant-based lifestyle, but during this time I was not following it in a healthy way and was consuming far too many nuts, seeds, avocados, and raw vegan desserts that are extremely calorie-dense. I was still eating healthy salads, and an abundance of fruits and vegetables, juices, and smoothies but far too many calories.

During this time of overeating, (would call it emotional binge eating I packed on 11 KG of mainly body fat!). Being a Food Coach, Pilates Instructor, and Personal Trainer, I honestly did not feel like I was representing what I do, and the back injury and getting sick with shingles really affected my regular exercise, training, and mindset/discipline. This was at a time when I was coaching other people and helping them get great results, while not being able to motivate myself, and I knew I had to get my mindset right to get back on track. 

Stress had taken a toll on my body and I found out from an osteopath that I was seeing for my back that the back injury was due to my left leg being structurally longer than my right one. which had caused vertebrates in my lumbar to compress and nerve impingement, also the shingles were from stress as well, and everything compounded. Any of you who have followed me for a while, or watched my videos would know some of my stories, I have had many accidents, health conditions, and even near-death experiences in my life and overcome a lot in the past so I knew what I had to do. Basically, I had to stop feeling sorry for myself and knuckle down to putting in the work to get through all of these challenges I faced. All challenges in life are an opportunity for personal growth.

I started applying the advice that I give my clients and started doing the exercise training I could manage to do around my injuries, while slowly increasing, and monitoring my eating habits. We made a big life decision to move from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast in mid-2020 and since moving there I have been extremely busy with work and doing 7 days per week teaching Pilates at different studios while also coaching clients online with Plant Based Life, which has been challenging to also focus on my own training, but I always prioritize it, no matter how busy I get.

I meditate and do the Wim Hof method daily as well to manage stress and boost immunity/health etc, but I have to get up very early at 4 AM to do all this before I teach Pilates classes at different locations. I have to drive a lot to each location and my lower back pain did come back for a while but I have started getting Bowen Therapy as well as doing my own stretches and exercises to manage it.  I also did a juice feast not long after we moved to the Sunshine Coast while exercising regularly every day. Once I finished that I improved my eating habits and then my wife, son, and I went to a personalized raw vegan retreat in Atherton Tablelands with Janet Murray-Wakelin and Alan Murray of Raw Vegan Path, which I have written about here.

On this retreat I learned how to optimize my nutrition and eating and improve the times I eat etc, this has all helped me make big changes. In 2020 we all had a choice to let the negative events of what was happening get on top of us or to use the opportunity for personal growth. After several months of letting it all affect me, I finally got myself into the right mindset to make these changes and now I am more dedicated than ever to improve not just my own health and wellbeing, but also my family and our clients. I have added photos of me in August 2020 and also in early January 2021. I got my weight down from 71.3 KG to 60.2 KG,  If you would like to start implementing healthy habits and do plant-based coaching contact us today at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

John Cawley

John Cawley

John Cawley is the founder of Plant Based Life. John is a Personal Trainer that believes every weakness can be turned into a strength and is passionate about instilling this belief with all clients. John has a lot of experience in helping clients who have had injuries, and is dedicated to helping everyone keep moving and leading a healthy lifestyle, with a big focus on movement, mobility and functional training.