A Hero's Journey: Healing from Ulcerative Colitis: Chris Zaino is one of my long term friends, and he’s had a pretty incredible life. Chris won the Mr. America bodybuilding competition at 21 and from there went on to run the most successful chiropractic clinic in Texas. Today he is the man behind I am Hero, an online program that helps individuals unlock their true potential.
Chris and I have shared a similar path, in that we were both sick and took our illnesses as motivation to pursue not only vibrant health but a career in the field. Chris’ story goes beyond that of healing from his health challenges; his hero’s journey is about constant evolution and growth… about grieving your potential and becoming the ultimate version of yourself. Chris is the ultimate example that hardship can breed strength, and I’m sure you’ll find his story as inspirational as I have.
A Hero's Journey: Healing from Ulcerative Colitis
Healing from Ulcerative Colitis: A Competitive Bodybuilder
After winning the Mr. America bodybuilding competition at 21, Chris was not only a successful personal trainer but also writing for and on the cover of health magazines. “My character was based on being the healthy person,” Chris explains, “I looked good. I felt good…” but things quickly took a turn. At 26, he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis, and things got dark very quickly.
Chris received chemotherapy, Remicade infusions, and multiple other medications. He got medically-induced hepatitis from all the drugs, and despite being treated by the world's leading doctors for digestive disease, Chris was a week and a half away from getting his entire colon removed, and being on $5,000 worth of pharmaceutical drugs for the rest of his life. The process essentially destroyed his immune system, and according to the doctors, even rendered him sterile.
Healing from Ulcerative Colitis: A Divine Intervention
It’s this point that Chris received divine intervention after his mum sent out a prayer e-mail, and his 10th-grade anatomy teacher reached out. He suggested Chris visit his chiropractor, which made no sense to Chris, “I thought that was the craziest thing ever because chiropractic to me was someone just tapes up my ankle or stretch my hamstrings out when I played sports, but I know when it had to do with health or anything like that”.
He was then introduced to Roger in Sarasota, Florida, and Roger was the first person who explained to him what chiropractic really was, “that it was removing interference so the brain could send all life healing and energy to the body. That our body was created in well being, that's the natural state of the body, well being. There has to be a blind spot”. And that's exactly what happened: it took seven months, but Chris’ body healed itself from this seemingly incurable, terminal illness.
Healing from Ulcerative Colitis: From Pain to Purpose
After his miraculous recovery, Chris knew he had to pursue his chiropractor degree to help other people. He shifted his pain into purpose, and that's what the hero journey is about: taking our hardships, growing from them, and looking back to extend a hand to help others.
“I never [would] have chosen it, but looking back, [it was the] greatest blessing to be [able to] impact millions of peoples lives,” explains Chris.
His journey to reclaim his health wasn't easy, but it gave him a newfound perspective on pain. “When you're constantly focused on the micro (the what is): it’s always insufficient,” he says. “When you’re in the darkness, you know what you don’t want- which clarifies where you do want to be. You can shift the perspective onto what you want: health. People lose hope and often say I’ve tried it all… but if you tried it all, you would have your health”. Chris’ passion for helping people get healthy kept him going for a long time, and he became a beacon of inspiration for the patients at his thriving Texas clinic.
“You have to make a conscious decision to find the answer, and give it your all.”
Healing from Ulcerative Colitis: Beyond Health
Despite having overcome his health challenges and checking all the boxes of what is supposed to bring “happiness,” Chris was feeling deeply unfulfilled. Unfulfillment isn’t always about being in a bad place… it can be, but not necessarily. That’s what makes it hard for many people who are living a blessed life but haven’t found happiness. Chris had his health, a beautiful and healthy wife, two beautiful kids, a successful clinic, financial stability… and yet was living with low levels of depression and numbness. “Life isn't about checking the boxes,” he realized, “life is about evolving”. Chris was grieving his potential.
Chris had has his established identity as a doctor, but his desires required him to step out of his lane, and to fulfill his potential made him scared. “I was feeling heavy, lethargic, tired and numb. I was feeling depressed and I wasn't allowing myself to fully embrace what I was created to do. During this time, I wasn't allowing myself to leave the comfort and the torment of this secret identity. Unknowing that by leaving this comfort, I could move onto something that would bring me joy, satisfaction, enlightenment, bliss.”
Stop Living with Fear-Based Thinking
Most of us live in fear, and so knowing your potential and actually stepping into it are two completely different things. Walking into your potential means walking into health, which leads you to the next thing…which may be your career. As you continuously upgrade your life, you’re having to shed what was, and for many people that is a very scary thing.
“I call it your heroic guidance system is telling you that you're not on the right road anymore,” Chris explains. “There's a new road for you, and this feeling you're having is because it's time to expand. There's something new, something brighter, something bigger for you… but there's all these unknowns that we get scared about… people don’t want to take a risk because it’s comfortable, but no one realizes [that] the unknown is exactly where your future and your destiny lies. The most guaranteed thing is life is the unknown. In the unknown, I realized that's where God is. That's where the next step is. That's where the genius is, where the relationship is, where the opportunity is. The unknown has all the nutrients and the variables and the rest that you needed to have that life that you always wanted.At the moment, it might be rough… but in retrospect, what a blessing.”
Healing from Ulcerative Colitis: I Am Hero
Pursuing his calling led Chris to develop his own site, which addresses this concept of identity, and trying to break through the limitations we set for ourselves. “We were literally given identity that we had to live up to for our entire life,” he explains, “we never allowed ourselves to really say who am I. We’re told who to be by institutions or to be teachers, by dogmas, you name it. We lived out other people's values.”
Despite healing from ulcerative colitis and creating quite the life for himself, he still felt unfulfilled. “I was living out other people's values for my life… Then you're in your 30s or 40s and you look in the mirror and you're like, “Who am I? I don't even know who I am.”
“I am is a declaration of truth, your spiritual truth.”
Our Thoughts Change Our Perspective
“We're told you can't be prideful, but when you look at a definition of pride, there's no sin in that. It's conceit, but not pride. Then ego is one sense of self-esteem and self-importance,” Chris explains. “A hero knows their message is important and they take pride and satisfaction on who they were and what they were called to do in the world. A hero must have that pride and that ego in what they do, who they were called to be, and really embrace their truth, but also the hero at the same time has humility.
In their weakness, they realize their courage, but the hero has all those three. They are willing to accept I am and they're willing to say this is what I stand for and I take a stand for that. They're willing to say that no one else has come to save people, so I have to step up and take responsibility. A hero has all those traits.”
And this power of affirmations like “I am a hero” is profound. Our words and our thoughts literally change our epigenetics. It changes our genome and therefore changes who we are and literally who we become. The only way to become a hero and make a difference in the world is to acknowledge it, to acknowledge you are. Think the thought. The thoughts become literally who you become. It sounds surreal, but it's not at all. We have receptors on our cells that literally vibrate to a wavelength. The thought is a wavelength, it's a frequency and that takes in the message and it changes your DNA. That changed DNA makes certain proteins…. And those proteins become who you are.
Chris’ entire message is about this:
“Remember, you're the hero. We were born that way. It's not about thinking. It's about remembering. God breathed into you. You had this divinely inspired inspiration then immediately start to get self-doubt. But you have to declare your purpose, declare your direction and move forward in your inspiration”
Healing From Ulcerative Colitis: Embrace The Hero Mindset
The first step, according to Chris, is embracing the hero mindset. “It is okay for me to take a stand and really being very sensitive to the inspiration or the feeling. How do you feel when you embrace the hero mindset? Do you get excited? You can't sleep. You don't need food. Lots of energy. Your heart is open. For some of you, you get a tear of inspiration. Then you start to focus on the “what is.” You just focused on where you are now. This secret identity stuff starts to come in and you start to self-doubt, but if you just say this feels good.”
Healing From Ulcerative Colitis: We Are All Perfect!
“When I look at people, I don't see them for the story that they believe or the lie they believe. I look at people and I just see them for who they were created to be. They are beautiful in their wholeness. When I look at them, I don't see their scars, abuse, or shortcomings. All I see is just the perfect creation of who they were made to be, and I speak to that. When someone says they're this or that, I don't even recognize that. I go that's a secret identity. That is not your truth. That's why we developed the I am hero project.
There are people that are sleepwalking in life living this secret identity. I exist to wake them up and reconnect them with their genius, their greatness, and their very hero. For those of you that are awake, we provide powerful inspiration or experiences so you could further develop those unique gifts and talents you were given so you could help wake up others maximizing their influence to make a difference in the world.”
More on his interview:
Health Hunters Jun 02 2018