Pace Yourself Toward Success
Life and its many facets is a continuum. With ups and downs, you can choose to run a race, travel at a snail’s pace, or moderately travel along for the long haul. As you begin your transition to better health, think of the goals you hope to accomplish. Ideally you are looking to make a change that you and your loved ones can benefit from for a lifetime. As such, you will want to pick a pace that you can stick with, that moves you closer to optimal health but doesn’t leave you deprived, miserable, and eventually non-compliant.
Let’s assume optimal health is 100%. If you are currently living at 50% and with efforts to get healthier make it to 75%, pat yourself on the back for making such wonderful progress. And if 75% is where you need to stay for a while, then do so. There is no benefit to jumping from 50% to 90% for three months, deciding that the new change is too drastic and returning to live at 50% -especially if this squanders the opportunity for you to possibly live at 75%.
You may even decide that your end-goal is 75%, and that works too! The point is that on a continuum you have flexibility to move further toward improving your overall health. Going from 30% to 50%, 70%, or 90% is moving in the right direction, and that is what you should be striving for. Sometimes jumping in at 100% to see how good it feels to be healthy is fun too, and for some people may be easier than making smaller incremental changes. The take home message is that you need to choose what works best for you. An analogy would be traveling from Los Angeles to New York. You can fly, drive, or walk understanding that there are advantages and disadvantages to each mode of transportation. The goal, however, is to head east and you have to decide what time frame works best for you. The beauty is that this is a dynamic process and your original pace may change once you become more familiar and confident with the positive changes you are making.
If you are questioning the value of making changes, remember that this is an investment for yourself and your family. After all, don’t you want to be around (not only surviving but thriving) for the next 30, 40, or 50+ years? Wouldn’t it be great to be free of heart disease, high cholesterol, cancer, and diabetes? How about achieving your trim weight without diets, restrictions, and deprivation? Or, being free of the constraints (money, time, and side effects) of medications? What about being able to make everyday your best, your healthiest, your most energetic, and your happiest? Sound tempting? Well, this could be you. Moreover, this should be you.
The most important first step is deciding how much you can realistically do, and then sticking to that plan 100%. For some of you, this may involve making modest changes, while for others the changes may be drastic. And, of course, the degree of change to which you commit will directly correlate with the intensity of your results.
Those of you making the bigger changes will see bigger results. BUT, if you follow your plan 100%, there is no doubt you will see yourself move to the right toward optimal health. And that should be your number one priority, not how fast you move but that you are moving in the right direction at a pace that works for you.
We cannot emphasize this enough: TO BE SUCCESSFUL YOU MUST CHOOSE A REALISTIC PACE FOR YOU; even if that means it will take you several weeks, months, or years to attain your final goal. Too often we have seen gunners decide they are going straight to the top or to 100%. They might manage this for one, two, three, or even six months as they continue to see and be motivated by positive results. But, eventually and inevitably, they begin to feel deprived, their new lifestyle becomes a miserable diet, they become unhappy and begin to have cravings, and the next thing you know they are wolfing down anything they can get their hands on (hamburgers, French fries, cream puffs, fried chicken, chocolate bars, etc.). We have witnessed the detrimental effects of this deprivation-binge cycle all too often, and we can advise you with absolute certainty that you do not want to fall victim to it. So, be good to yourself, be honest with yourself, and prepare for long-term success.
Make this change about adopting a new lifestyle rather than reverting to a temporary quick fix. Remember that while 100% compliance may bring faster changes, the long-term results are more important than the speed in which you achieve those results.
As with all general recommendations, you hammer them home, you make sure everyone understands them and is on board, and then you introduce the exceptions. And there are always exceptions! In this case, it would be those of you with very serious or end-stage diseases that are time sensitive. Some examples include, but are not limited to, a new cancer diagnosis, severe and debilitating arthritis, a history of multiple heart attacks, and/or a doctor prescribing bypass surgery. Those of you that fall into these, or similar, categories have aggressive disease that must be met with equally aggressive treatment. Under these circumstances we generally do not have the luxury of running a turtle’s race. Nor can we afford to live anywhere on the health continuum other than at optimal health. This is because we need our bodies to function at maximal capacity to battle our particular illness, especially in its most aggressive stages.
To make an analogy, imagine discovering a fire is headed toward your home versus waking up to a fire destroying your home. In the former case, you may have time to gather important or sentimental personal items before leaving. You may even choose to stay put, in the house or near the house, hoping that the fire will be squelched before it reaches you. The same applies for those of you who have mild to moderate disease or who just want to improve your health. You have the time to slowly and steadily climb the health continuum and the choice to stay put (temporarily or permanently) along the way. But, if you are in the midst of the fire, you must leave your house immediately and get as far away as you can. In this case, there is no time to gather memoirs and no choice but to escape. In the same manner, for those of you battling a severe illness, time is of the essence. You must hurry to your final destination (in this case optimal health) and get there without making any stops. As such, the “program” for you would be accelerated and a bit more rigid but very doable and well worth it, especially with the right support and guidance.
Keep in mind that the rigidity of this regimen is temporary. The intention is to get you to the strongest, healthiest place you can be to battle your illness. However, once you have optimized your health and managed your disease, some of you will be able to loosen the reins and return to a more flexible plan if needed.