I am convinced that one reason many men and women never lose weight or achieve the level of health or fitness they desire is because they don’t have healthy role models to follow.
If you don’t believe there’s a scarcity of healthy role models, just pick up an issue of the latest fitness magazines. The airbrushed figures we see and recommended killer exercise programs combined with fake-food diets lead to the impression that the only way to be thin and well-cut is to over exercise, starve on protein bars and take ephedra. I asked one client last year to come up with only THREE role models—women she knew who had:
A healthy attitude towards food. I recommended that my client find three women she knew who were not anorexic or bulimic, who ate normally and who did not obsess about calories.
A healthy attitude towards exercise. I recommended my client find three role models who actually enjoyed exercising, who exercised in tune with their mood and energy levels and who did not slave away out of a self-hateful attitude to force their bodies into an unrealistic shape.
I recommended my client find these role models because of the way she had been brought up. My client had been shipped off to Weight Watcher camps in her childhood. Her mother clocked two hours a day on a Stairmaster. Her friends took laxatives, and she herself believed she would never find the man of her dreams until she achieved some miraculous number on the scale.
Her idea of a weight-loss menu—an entire day of food—was a bowl of cereal in the morning, a plate of broccoli and an ice cream sandwich at some point later in the day. Unfortunately, she had learned this way of eating through a well-known national weight-loss chain.
Megastudies at Harvard University have shown that individuals who successfully make major changes in their lives usually have a mentor.
This mentor has to be someone who has walked your path before—a former smoker who has given up cigarettes, an ex-alcoholic who knows the ropes, a former fat person who has come to peace and thinness.
I recommend all my clients find three such people. They can be alive or dead. Although it is preferable to know them personally so you can study their strengths up close, you can also read or study them from afar. Make sure they are the real McCoy. If these people have had real challenges, all the better. Find ones for whom health or thinness was not a matter of mere genetics, and who have not had major parts of their anatomy sucked out.
How to Find Your Health and Fitness Mentors
Read a book. The Schwarzbein Principle II by Diana Schwarzbein. Written by an endocrinologist MD who used to over exercise and starve herself, this book contains numerous stories of actual people—including a personal trainer—who rebuilt their metabolisms by eating and exercising in healthy ways.
Hire a trainer who does not use laxatives, advocate liposuction or have an eating disorder. I do my best to do everything I ask my clients to do—for me, it’s a matter of integrity. Even if my clients can’t read my food diary or look at my exercise log, they know whether or not I am practicing what I preach.
Watch naturally thin people eat. They eat when they are hungry and stop before they are stuffed. When upset, they find non-food ways of coping. They relax while eating and take the time to make meals fun.
Find someone who loves the exercise they practice. Henry Edmunds, VP of Total Fitness, lives to ride his bicycles—both road bikes and mountain bikes. No one tells Henry he has to exercise—he deeply regrets the rainy days when he can’t get outside.My Mentors:
Paul Chek, Erich Schiffman and Sue Maes
Here is a brief description of my three mentors:
Paul Chek is my mentor in traditional exercise. He gets up every morning and meditates and/or does Qi Gong. He trains personal fitness trainers around the globe, does not believe in exercise machines or fake foods. He tells it like it is.
Erich Schiffman is my mentor in yoga. Erich is the embodiment of love. He has no pretenses. For him, yoga is not about how far you can bend over.
Sue Maes is my mentor in kinesiology and healing. She is straightforward, knowledgeable and thorough. If she doesn’t know the answer, she’ll find it.