In 1514, Nicolaus Copernicus shared a 40-page manuscript with a few friends. In it, he described his radical theory that the earth orbited the sun, rather than the other way around.
Copernicus knew that this hypothesis was dangerous, as it challenged the universal assumption that the earth was the center of the universe.
Still, he persisted in his research, and 18 years later, in 1532, his magnum opus, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (“On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres”), was complete.
But he didn’t publish for 10 more years. He was scared of the scorn that would be heaped upon him when people found out his radical and strange ideas.
It was persistent pressure from friends and colleagues that got Copernicus to finally allow the manuscript to find its way to a printer in Nuremberg, Germany in 1542.
By this time the 70-year-old Copernicus was paralyzed from a stroke and was fading fast. According to legend, the great scientist awoke from a coma to gaze upon his printed work for the first time, and then died.
That’s right – it took Copernicus 29 years to work up the guts to share his gifts with the world.
Aiming High is Scary
All of us have untapped potential. And all of us grapple with fear when it comes to taking the actions that will bring that potential into reality.
- “What if I fail?”
- “What if I’m not as good as I think I am?”
- “What if other people reject me?”
- “What if my friends and family get jealous?”
So we can stay where we are, safe and comfortable, and deeply unfulfilled.
And kinda miserable.
Because we know that on our deathbeds, we’ll regret not having tried much more than if we had given it our best shot, and fallen short.
Big Change is Scary
One area where so many of us struggle is our weight and health. After all, we live in a culture designed to get us to over-consume crappy food and replace our muscles with motors wherever possible.
And we’re taught faulty strategies for addressing the problem.
Strategies like “Eat less, exercise more” and other reductionist pabulums that just make us feel worse.
Strategies like like New Year’s Resolutions and other heroic sprints that deplete us within a couple of weeks.
Strategies like the Paleo diet that contradicts our basic biology.
So naturally most of us are afraid of putting ourselves out there and committing to change. We don’t see a trustworthy roadmap to follow. And we’re terrified of another letdown, another false promise, another flesh wound to our tender and most cherished hopes.
Wellness is Our Birthright
All this mental anguish tends to obscure a really freaking obvious point: most other animals on this planet are well. They are lean, strong, healthy, and functional.
That’s the default setting. Aside from rare genetic anomalies, animals who gather their natural diets through their preferred natural movements (fish swimming, birds flying, cheetahs running) do not suffer from chronic diseases.
They are not overweight, and they don’t have to go jogging or say no to that second helping to maintain their svelte physiques.
So the fact that the majority of Western humans are overweight and unwell is rooted not in biological inevitability, but rather in our lifestyles.
Change what you eat and how you move, and you rewrite your destiny – quickly.
Take Josh LaJaunie
My co-author and business partner Josh LaJaunie weighed 420 pounds in 2011, after decades of indulging in the richest cuisine in the world. Once he discovered running, he dropped 100 pounds with ease. When he added a plant-based diet to his protocol, the excess weight flew off.
This month Josh is featured on the cover of Runner’s World magazine, after coming in second in a 50k race in North Carolina and third in a 100-miler in Florida.
And Josh will be the first to tell you: he’s nothing special. He just DID, rather than wishing or dreaming for things to be better.
As another friend, Tim Kaufman, who went from disabled from a genetic disorder, addicted to painkillers, and weighing 400 pounds to completing his first marathon this year and hiking up Mount Washington, told me: “I’m just a fat guy who ate an apple.”
His breakthrough strategy: ““Eat plants, move your body, and do a little more today than you did yesterday.”
Not exactly rocket science.
And you know all this already.
You know how to eat. Maybe some of the nuances still need to be filled in, but you’ve got the basics for sure.
You know that exercise – natural human movement like walking, jogging, running, swimming, yoga, pilates, dance, gardening, whatever – is key to physical, mental, and emotional well-being.
And still, are you struggling to DO? To implement. To get it into your life in a sustainable and enjoyable and confidence-building way?
If so, you have three choices.
1. Let it go
Relax. Have a cheeseburger. Binge-watch season two of Red Oaks on Netflix. Pray that your co-pays for metformin, Prilosec, and Lipitor don’t rise too astronomically, and that the surgeon who does your stent and bypass hasn’t been awake for too many hours prior to your procedure.
2. Pull a Copernicus
You can delay for the next 29 years while you build up the courage to make the Big Changes that will get you the body you want. You can make 2046 your best year ever.
3. Commit right now
You can say yes to your longings at the same time as you acknowledge your fears.
Yes, it feels scary to commit to self-betterment.
Yes, it feels weird to go from self-affirmations like “I love myself exactly as I am” to operationalizing that love and treating your body like it deserves to be treated, with clean food and natural human movement.
Yes, it feels vulnerable to admit to yourself how much you want this new reality, because you fear that it’s just not for you.
The great movers and shakers of history weren’t any different than you. Today’s celebrated entrepreneurs and activists aren’t any more confident. Josh and Tim had no advantages that you lack.
They all struggle with the same fears, self-doubts, and issues of worthiness that you may be experiencing.
What separates them from the mass of humanity that stays stuck in their comfort zone is their willingness to DO in spite of all those negative voices in their heads.
2017 is Coming
Unlike winter in Game of Thrones, we know exactly when 2017 will be upon us. And 2018, 2019, and 2046.
There’s a powerful behavioral psychology principle known as the “clean slate.” It says that when we hit a milestone, or change our environment, we have space to make internal shifts as well.
That’s why I could practice being outgoing and confident when I traveled abroad in my 20s, even though I was shy and retiring at home.
A new calendar year is a perfect clean slate opportunity.
Most of us waste it on New Year’s Resolutions, which are fatally flawed in a number of respects. But we instinctively understand the power of January 1 as an opportunity, as a window, and as a time when the fabric separating WHAT IS from WHAT CAN BE is particularly sheer and gossamer.
The Big Change Program
If you’re unwilling to settle for the status quo, and you’re not satisfied to wait another year or 29 to take action to bring about Big Change, then I invite you to commit to the Big Change Program.
Josh LaJaunie and I have teamed up to create a one-year experience that will transform how you eat, move, and think. Josh is the epitome of experience and possibility. When you hear from him how he did it, and continues to do it, you’ll be inspired and guided on the path.
I’m the Habits nerd and the Teacher. I’ve formulated a year-long curriculum that approaches these habits of deed and thought as skills that must be learned, practiced, and mastered.
Instead of just saying, “Stop bingeing,” we’ll teach you the specific skills needed to say no to temptation in any situation, and guide you to practice those skills until you’ve achieved mastery.
In other words, living healthy in this culture is more like playing guitar or speaking Italian than deciding one day to “Just Say No.”
You can read all about the Big Change Program, take a free test drive, and sign up here:
We start in January 2017, and I don’t know when the next run will be after that. If you’re ready to commit to yourself, please take 10 minutes to visit BigChangeProgram.com and see if it’s a good fit for you.
Josh and I would be honored to work with you, and help you make 2017 your best year ever.
While the legend of Copernicus dying peacefully after seeing his work in print is heartwarming, wouldn’t you rather have decades to enjoy the fruits of your positive health habits?
PS Don’t be scared by my use of the word “commit.” I’m asking you to commit to yourself, not us. If you take part in the Big Change Program and find it isn’t right for you, just ask and you’ll receive a full refund (see http://BigChangeProgram.com for details).
PPS We’ve gotten rave reviews on the free test drive of the Big Change Program (a series of multimedia lessons delivered to your inbox), so if you know of anyone who could benefit from a common-sense, evidence-based, empowering introduction to positive lifestyle change, please forward this email or send them to http://BigChangeProgram.com.
Become a Health Coach
New cohort beginning Fall 2021. Live classes will be 10-11:30am US Eastern Time on Wednesday, so this is a Europe- and Africa-friendly class. Also for folks in the US, Canada, and Central/South America who have flexible mornings.
Find out more and apply here: WellStartCoach.com.
New Audiobook: Use the Weight to Lose the Weight
Listen to Josh LaJaunie and me narrate our latest audiobook, about how to start moving when you're obese.
It's $10, and Josh and I split it evenly 🙂
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The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.
It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.
You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.
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