An Inspirational Quote
“The secret of success is consistency of purpose.”
Benjamin Disraeli, British prime minister
Doing what I do every day gives me the unique opportunity to witness the effect of human behaviors.
What motivates people? What fitness, nutrition and natural healing approaches actually work? And most important, I see consequences.
We live in a fast-fix society. You can drive down any highway and see signs on telephone poles advertising, Lose 20 lbs. in 20 days. The concept I stress with all my clients is quite simple: Be consistent. It’s what you do every day that counts, and every day counts.
Years ago, I had two clients. Each was 62. Geographically, they lived less than half a mile from each other, and each had been more or less happily married for more than 30 years.
The first client, whose name I keep confidential, had been a regular exerciser her whole life. She didn’t necessarily engage in intense or vigorous exercise she was simply consistent. Although she had a few pounds to lose, mostly from a perennial disconnection from her own innate beauty, her body could have been mistaken for a 30-year-old. We worked together to lose about a pound a week. After a year, she had lost about 25 pounds.
The second client had never exercised before she came to be at the age of 60. Back pain prompted her to start exercising, and she was so stiff it took a year or persistent stretching before her spine would move in any fluid fashion. The type II diabetes she developed seemed almost inevitable given her 60-odd years of inactivity and unfortunate eating patterns. However, she learned consistency from me and eventually lost about 25 pounds. It happened so slowly you could have watched ice melt, but the key thing is it did happen. She did not give up.
When I was studying at Brown University, I never pulled an all-nighter. I had a deep understanding that I personally couldn’t handle the stress of overdoing anything, so I had a simple rule I would work just 8 hours a day. For example, if I had 5 hours of classes, I would go to the library and study for 3 hours, or vice versa. While others were cramming, I would be searching around for a few willing to go out dancing with me so I could relax the night before a test. The habit of consistent but not excessive studying paid off when I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, despite having missed part of college when I was hospitalized for mental illness at the age of 20.
This same habit of consistent persistence has paid off handsomely in terms of my own health. I never give up, but if you watched me, you might think nothing was happening. It took me 9 months to withdraw from 18 years of psychiatric medication. It took me 3 years to write a book about how to heal depression without drugs. Every week, I ask myself how I can get a little bit better.
What do YOU need to do a little bit every day in order to get better and better? I recommend my clients focus on consistent improvement in the following areas:
Nutrition: Are you eating whole foods? Do you have a healthy relationship with food? Do you consistently stop eating before you are full? Have you given up all emotional overeating? Do you eat frequently enough? The goal is to become so in tune with yourself that you know intuitively exactly what you need to eat, exactly when to stop eating and to feel deeply nurtured on all levels by what and how you eat.
Rest and relaxation: Do you sleep well every night? Do you make time every day to enjoy your life? Do you have time every day and every week to relax and turn off your stress hormones? Do you get a total of 10 hours sleep, rest and relaxation every day? Most of my clients learn how to become great sleepers and a large majority become regular meditators.
Strength Training: Do you lift weights 2 or 3 times a week, even for 30 minutes? This is the key focus of our exercise programs because your muscles are the engines of your metabolism.
Stretching: Do you release the tension in your muscles as often as you need to? You receive both physical and emotional benefits from practicing yoga or stretching your muscles frequently enough to release the tension you hold down deep. The goal is to feel completely comfortable in your own body.
Aerobic Exercise: This is an area you can definitely overdo. Olympic strength coach Charles Poliquin, whose interviews you can listen to on our radio show, says you can enjoy aerobic exercise up to three times a week for 20 minutes without compromising strength gains from your weight training program. However, I like my clients to walk frequently enough in the sunshine to stimulate the pineal gland so they sleep well enough, and so many people benefit from rebounding on a mini trampoline, because it helps stimulate the immune system, increase circulation, benefits the lymph system and assists detoxification. Of course, our yoga and Qi Gong classes are true aerobic classes meaning exercise that increases oxygen as opposed to something like running, which is really anaerobic for many people. Do you have enough movement to benefit your health?
Here’s the kicker many people excel in one area, say they eat all organic food, but don’t exercise. Or vice versa. For best results, I like my clients to be well-rounded and consistent in all five areas. I have seen even the sickest, most overweight and discouraged clients totally turn their lives around by being consistent in all five areas not just one.
If you consistently overeat on the weekends, binge before your menstruation or fall in and out of your exercise program, you will end up looking and feeling a certain way. If, however, you are consistent in all five areas, your health will continue to improve, your energy will soar, you will feel good about being in your physical body and the beauty that results on the outside will be a natural, easy consequence. Be consistent: it’s what you do every day that counts.