Hall of Fame quarterback and broadcasting legend Terry Bradshaw shares his secrets to happiness.

When Terry Bradshaw was 7 years old he told his dad, “I’m going to play in the NFL.” It was an ambitious goal.

According to NCAA research, only eight out of every 10,000 high school seniors who play football end up getting drafted by an NFL team. Yet Bradshaw led his high school to their first state championship appearance, led Louisiana Tech to their first bowl game and title, got drafted No. 1 overall in the 1970 NFL draft, quarterbacked the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl championships, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Bradshaw clearly has what some people call the “X factor.” He says that his secret weapon, happiness, was built into his DNA.

“It’s not anything I practice at being; I’m just a happy guy. I look at life with great joy,” Bradshaw says.

As a child, he explored many interests: piano, guitar, singing, welding, building things, electronics and such. However, when he picked up a football in gym class, learned how to pass the ball and make a spiral, he was instantly fascinated.

Bradshaw, now 66 years young, notes that as a former top athlete, being in shape was crucial. Daily workouts and staying fit were a way of life. Today in his postathletic career, he finds himself living with several injuries. Bradshaw has had five wrist operations, has limited cartilage left in his knees and was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

“It’s almost comical, but I find a way to work around them,” Bradshaw says. “It doesn’t discourage me; I just can’t go as hard as I used to. I still do some cardio, and now I’m doing core exercises.”

A recent medication prescribed to him for rheumatoid arthritis brought a side effect of weight gain, but he’s working extra hard to stay disciplined with his diet and exercise schedule, even when traveling for work.

“You really have to be determined, and you can do it, especially if you do it right,” Bradshaw says. “You can get down to the weight you want doing it wrong, but then it’s just going to come back. It’s important that doing it right becomes a part of your process. I’m good at repetition and taking directions as a former athlete, yet when it comes to food, it’s a personal struggle — I find that a struggle just like everybody else.”

Bradshaw dedicates an hour to core exercises three days a week and also utilizes the expertise and assistance of a nutritionist. He tries to get a minimum of one hour of some kind of activity each day. He remains dedicated to his workouts (bike, elliptical, core work, etc.) and finds music as a motivator.

“I love to work out to the music of the Eagles, Gaither, and The Isaacs, my favorite gospel group,” Bradshaw says. “If that music is on, then you know I’m working out.”

While some people resist the notion of aging gracefully, Bradshaw shared that has never been a concern for him.

“I’ve embraced the aging process; I’ve never had a problem with it. I find things that stimulate me, and I never allow myself to get stale. I’m still here, still moving, still creative with my mind, always thinking outside the box to make my speeches (and work) more entertaining,” Bradshaw says.

Bradshaw isn’t interested in cosmetic enhancements to hide his age, but he is always searching for new ways to keep his body and mind fresh, sometimes with comical results.

“I did hot yoga twice for 90 minutes,” Bradshaw recalls. “My first time, I got in there, and I got up to walk out after 40 minutes, and I was dying. And the gal in there says ‘Bradshaw, sit down!’ I said ‘What?! I’m leaving.’ And she said, ‘No you’re not; nobody leaves this class!’”

After one more attempt at hot yoga, Bradshaw realized that some things just aren’t for him. He hasn’t let that discourage him from continuing to explore new experiences — his passion for trying new things continues to fuel his desire and quest for discovery.

“I take on things, and they excite me; there’s just so much I haven’t done,” he states. “I’m young as far as I look at it!”

Bradshaw has stayed involved with football after retiring and now serves as a television broadcaster for the sport he fell in love with over five decades ago. He’s on TV covering NFL games each weekend and says there are demands, but personal health has to remain a focus.

“It’s easy to say let’s go crazy one night, then two, then three, then you realize you’ve put on four or five pounds fast,” Bradshaw says. “I’m aware of it — I’m not doing myself a favor by not taking care of myself. It’s still my responsibility.”

While Bradshaw has spent the majority of his professional life in the public eye on and off the field, he prefers to give back in a more quiet way. He donates funds and time privately to causes that are dear to him and where he feels he can have an impact.

“My dad instilled in me to treat people with respect,” Bradshaw says. “Be real; be true to myself — that’s so important to me — there’s so much out there to see, experience and get better at. I’m happy about my children; happy about my faith and practice hard at being nice. It’s important for all of us to realize how blessed and fortunate we are, how responsible we should be to other people.”

When not traveling around the country for work, he spends time at his ranch, enjoys entertaining, and focuses his energy on staying healthy and working with his horses.

“I’m just a simple guy that loves to live life to the fullest. That’s it.”

 

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Jodi Marsh is Executive Editor for Healthy Living Made Simple.