I saw a patient the other day–yes, people actually pay good money to obtain my advice–and he’s pretty remarkable.  Without going into too much detail that would reveal his identity and violate all kinds of rules that could get me into deep dooky, I want to tell you about him.

This guy is amazing.  He’s completed a marathon every year for decades. Over and over, year after year, without fail, he does a marathon.  He’s beyond retirement age at this point, but he’s still doing it and has no plans to stop.  He’s also funny, witty, sharp and inspirational, although he would say he just goes running and isn’t doing anything particularly special.

He also has a personal vow to exercise every single day.  Now some days it is 2 hours and other days it is 10 minutes, but he has without fail not missed a day in years.  Even, he sheepishly admitted, the day he had inpatient surgery a few years back included 10 minutes of walking.

I asked him what the secret was, how he was able to do things that other mere mortals were unable to do, like being in his 70s and running marathons regularly.

His answer was so simple: If you want to be doing 5 miles a day when you are 70, you better be doing 5 miles a day today.

Simple, yet true, and even better–totally attainable for most of us.

If you want to be doing 5 miles a day when you are 70, you better be doing 5 miles a day today.

If you want to be _______ when you are 70 you had better be doing _______ today.

Or even better, if you want to be doing _____ next month, you had better be doing what today?

What do you need to be doing today to be doing great things next week, next month, next year, or when you are 90?

I few years ago I saw a 93-year-old patient who lives independently, drives, pays her own bills, and is 100% sharp as a tack.  Her medication list, in total, includes an annual flu shot and she did have a pneumonia shot a few years back.

Her secret? Exercise.  Daily.  I about fell off my chair when she said “I quit mowing the lawn a few years ago, and my tennis game has slowed down a lot, but I get out and move every day.”

Seriously.

  • If you want to be wicked sharp mentally when you are 93, exercise.
  • If you want to be running marathons when you are 70, you better be running marathons today.
  • If you want to be bendy and doing yoga in five years, do yoga today.
  • If you want to be able to walk a 5k by summer, you need to be walking today.
  • If you want to complete a 9 day uphill trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, you better be exercising, burning fat and losing weight every day for the next year.  (I’m looking at me, too).

If you want to be fit and thin in 2018, you need to be acting like a fit and thin person.  What does the day of a fit and thin person look like today?

What can you do today—NO, what WILL you do—this week and next week and all month and next year that will lead to the future you desire? I can guarantee that your desire for a banging bikini body isn’t going to happen sitting on the couch eating pizza every day.  “I’ll do it tomorrow” isn’t going to change anything.  If you want to be a screenwriter, are you writing today? If you want to be able to travel to Antarctica did you put some money into your travel fund this month?

If you want to have a heart attack, did you eat fast food and sit on the couch a lot this week? Oh wait, no one wants that…

If you don’t want that future, whatever that future is, don’t do that.  There is a saying in whitewater kayaking that goes like this “If you don’t want to hit that rock, do not look at that rock” and it is true.  If you are trying to avoid hitting a stinking rock in the middle of fast moving water and ending upside down with water up your nose, don’t aim for the stupid rock–and when you are in a kayak looking at something = aiming for it because your boat goes where your body is focused.  If you don’t want to be burdened with 30 pounds of excess fat next year, will you be staring at your fat in the mirror and talking about how sad it is that you are overweight or will you be going to the gym?

What will you be doing today that will alter your predictable future in amazing ways? Make no mistake, your future is extremely predictable.  Your actions today will pretty much draw a map to your predictable future, will it be a treasure map or a road to certain doom?

Does your map lead to playing tennis at 93 or a heart attack at 50? Does your map lead to cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes or lung cancer or does it lead to walking on a beach enjoying your retirement? Does your map lead to running 5Ks and being so bendy you can put your ankle behind your head or is it filled with aches and pains?