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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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February 07, 2014

The Power of Gradual and Consistent

By Guest
114 Comments

It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

When I had just turned 18 my grandfather gave me some advice. He had lived through the Great Depression and fought in World War II and the Korean War. He managed to raise a family of five, get a bachelor’s, two masters’, and later a doctorate. He spent 40 years in the same career, and when he retired he refused to claim social security or any other government “handouts” as he called them. He also refused to take any money from the US military for his service in two wars. As he put it, he was lucky to live and not be injured and that money needed to go to those who deserved it. He had a pension from a 40 year career and his investments, but he started life on his own and alone at 14, yet managed to succeed in what he did with almost no help from anyone. He wasn’t rich when he retired, but he had plenty to live on and some to give away as well. He was also married to the same woman for almost 60 years. When my grandfather offered advice, you listened. I still remember his words clearly, “Son, you’re an adult now. You’re out of school and about to start working. People are going to tell you to do this and to do that. Listen to their words, but be careful what you apply. A lot of people’s advice is only worth half considering. My advice is simply this: be consistent and be gradual, but always do more.”

At 18 years of age I found myself with no options for going to college and only able to find part-time work earning minimum wage. One of my buddies was insistent that I immediately start saving 10% of my income. Good advice, granted, but not exactly realistic at the time. But I remembered my grandfather’s words: consistent and gradual. So I applied my friend’s advice, but in a way that was consistent and gradual. I saved 1% of all income and purposed to add an additional 1% each year until I retired. There were some months where I only took home $160 a week after taxes. But I saved $1.60. I continued this for 10 years and at age 28 I was saving 10% of my income and I’ve continued this practice. I don’t worry about inflation or if my benefits cost me more this year or if I get a raise or not. In a month I’ll be 38 and as of Jan 1, 2014 I’m saving 20% of my income. There’ve been rough spots and layoffs and medical bills and an ever growing family, but I’ve managed to adjust our income/savings by 1% each year and we never notice a loss. The only thing I noticed is that I managed to put away 19.5K last year and 20 years later I’m already seeing the benefits of compound interest.

Right about now you might be asking what this has to do with Mark’s Daily Apple? Well, in my case it took me until I was 35 to realize that “be consistent and be gradual, but always do more” applied to more than just savings. It also applies to time with family, learning, and especially physical health.

Here we are in the third week of January. Statistically speaking, this is the week where 90% of New Year’s resolutions will fail. This is the week when the gym memberships go unused and the ellipticals don’t see any use before they’re eventually covered in “things” and eventually sold at a yard sale a few years later. Ask most gyms and they’ll tell you that the third week of January is their slowest week of the year. This is true for the 24-hour, exercise-in-the-windows-with-the-world-watching gyms as well as the local CrossFit boxes. Sadly, this is failure week for the vast majority of people that want change in their physical well-being. And the reason why is simple: most people bit off more than they could handle. They weren’t consistent and gradual. They were full of gusto and then fizzled.

I remember it clearly. I was 25 years old and in my mind high school was just a couple of years past, not 7. I decided I needed to get into shape again. I still had fond memories of running cross country in high school and setting three state CIF records (1 of which still remains unbroken). Surely I couldn’t have deteriorated that much! I used to walk with my girls to the playground at their school. I knew it was about one mile away. One night I decided I’d stretch and jog there and back. There were two minor hills involved, but what did that matter? So I did and at the half-way point I had so much energy I thought I’d go a bit further. I ended up doing about three miles with some minor hills. Mind you, I hadn’t run more than a 100M sprint in over six years. The next day I was definitely sore. The day after that was unbearable. I couldn’t walk without limping. My thighs hurt to the touch and I couldn’t fully extend my legs. I almost fell down our stairs because I couldn’t walk right. Pushing the gas pedal felt like someone was stabbing my calf muscle with a knife. The only time it didn’t hurt was sitting at my desk, but if I had to eat or urinate I could barely stand. It took a full six days before it didn’t hurt and another four before I wasn’t sore anymore. No more running for me…

Five years or so later I again realized I needed to get into shape. I was 30 and my gut was having an impact on my ability to view my feet. Sure, it was only 20 or 25 lbs, but it seemed that all of it had coagulated onto my waistline, and besides, I needed to deal with it before it became 30 or 40 lbs. So I got up early and decided to do three sets of as many pushups and situps as I could, just like in my high school days. Sixty pushups and seventy-five situps later I started my day. By that night I had tendinitis in my elbows and my abs hurt. By the next morning I couldn’t straighten either arm all the way and I could barely stand up straight. My arms recovered in a day or two, but my abs were even more painful on the third and fourth days. It took a full week before I was normal again. Well, no more situps or pushups for me…

Three years ago my wife decided to join the local gym. They had a special of getting a free personal trainer for 12 sessions… basically three times a week for the first month to show you how to use the equipment, proper technique, etc. On day number one the PT decided to start with an evaluation. My wife did squats, lunges, crunches, knee pushups, bench presses, burpees, and numerous other exercises all to exhaustion. She came home tired, but energized and ready “to hit it”. But the next morning she could barely move. Literally every muscle and joint in her body hurt. She tried ice. She tried heat. She tried stretching. On the second day, she called to cancel her PT session saying she was in too much pain. She cancelled again the third day. Eventually, the membership was abandoned.

I remember another time where I had quickly worked up to running three miles, in part because I’d been challenged to join a friend in a 5K. I went from nothing to running three miles straight in about six weeks. Once I hit three miles, I decided I need to do five miles and started pushing it. Within two weeks I had an inflamed Achilles. It took 10 weeks to heal, during which time I could do no running and even some walking hurt. When I tried to run just a mile 10 weeks later, I was limping home after about 100 yards.

All of these situations lacked two things: gradual changes and consistency. Ironically, the lack of consistency was actually hampered by the lack of gradual change. It turns out the order of my grandfather’s words were important. Being gradual allows for consistency. Here I had mastered this concept financially… and even in regards to our family time and other things, but when it came to physical health, I missed it completely.

Around the time of my wife’s failed gym evaluation, we stumbled across paleo/Primal. We knew we were eating crap and one day we noticed our girls were a bit heavier than they should be… at the higher end of the “normal” range. Despite a summer of playing outside from sunup to sundown, they were still a bit too pudgy. We committed to making a change for the whole family and decided to cut out all fast food and soda and later all processed foods. We were on the road to Primal without realizing it. While looking for recipes, we found Mark’s Daily Apple and refined our eating even more. But I couldn’t escape the fact that while we were eating better, we weren’t being active. I’m pretty sure that somewhere in our subconscious we were afraid of the pain of activity. The phrase may be “no pain, no gain”, but our past pain simply hadn’t been worth it.

I knew I had to do something, though, but all at once it hit me… grandpa’s words apply to all areas of life. Up to this point, I was walking about two to three miles a day, but that was it. I knew I needed to do a bit more. Heck, I wanted to do more. But I didn’t want the pain. And truth be told, I was in my mid-30s and didn’t want to risk injury either. So I tried the gradual and consistent approach. The first step was to stay consistent. So I kept eating whole, unprocessed foods and continued walking two to three miles a day. But for anything new, I knew it had to be gradual.

That evening I stretched and went out for a run. I know I could have run at least a half mile. I probably could’ve run a mile. I would’ve been sweaty and out of breath, but I know I could’ve done it. But I also knew that if I overdid it, I wouldn’t do it again. So I jogged one quarter of a mile and walked back. I was gone for all of maybe seven minutes and didn’t even break a sweat. My family was like “um, I thought you were going to go running”. 🙂 It was only one quarter mile, but it was a start. Guess what? I didn’t have any pain the next day or the following day. So two days later I did it again. Exactly one more quarter mile jog and a quarter mile walk back. I did this three times a week that first week, every other day. I never felt any pain or soreness. The next week, I added another quarter mile… one half mile jog out and a half mile walk back… three times, every other day. Week three was three-quarters of a mile. After a month I ran my first mile. I’m sure I could have done this on day one or even on week two, but I decided to be gradual and consistent. In hindsight, I realize that not only did my muscles need to build up gradually, but so did the connective structure of tendons and ligaments and bones and joints. My body needed time to adjust to the new stress.

I continued to add one quarter mile a week each week for five months. After five months, I was running five miles, three times a week, every other day. Of course, at this distance I felt soreness from time to time. But I never felt pain. And best of all, I never had any injury setbacks. Once I hit the five mile point, I made a slight adjustment. I now ran five miles or 45 minutes, whichever came first. I didn’t want to get into chronic cardio and I wasn’t looking to race, but over time, I got down from my first 11 minute mile to averaging 9:15-9:30 min/miles. Besides, I had read that with cardio anything more than about 45 minutes and you’re looking at diminishing returns. I also didn’t feel like overworking my heart. I figured a 9 min/mile was sufficient. To do this day, I have no desire to run marathons or to complete my runs under seven minutes a mile. I still run 45 minutes or five miles, whichever comes first and I’ve been doing this for over a year now.

A year later I was still eating better, walking two miles, six mornings a week and running five miles or 45 minutes, three times a week. All this work had helped strengthen my core and built endurance and brought my weight down about 27 lbs. Seeing the success of applying “gradual and consistent” to my running, I decided to start doing core bodyweight exercises the same way. I knew I could do 20-25 pushups and 3-5 pullups and 7-10 dips and probably 30 crunches. But I didn’t. Instead I did one set of 10 pushups, 2 pullups, 3 dips, and 10 crunches. Two days later I did two sets of the same. Two days later it was three sets of the same. And then I increased each slightly every week. I added two pushups, one pullup, one dip, and three crunches each week. Within a few months I was doing three sets of 25 pushups, 10 pullups, 15 dips, and 25 crunches. And again, I had no injury setbacks. In fact, the combination of eating better, cardio, and exercise all improved my immune system so much that I had zero sickness setbacks in the last calendar year.

Fast forward to today. I only run 5 miles/45 minutes twice a week now. One other day of the week I do about a quarter mile’s worth of sprints followed by a shorter two mile run. I’ve added more bodyweight exercises that I do twice a week and one day a week I do resistance work (lifting heavy things besides my own body). I’m 6’ 2’’, 178 lbs, about to be 38 years old, and for the first time since my senior year of high school I can see definition in my stomach area. I’m no six pack wielding underwear model, but I don’t care to be either. I look good with a shirt off at the beach in summer and that’s really all I care about.

But this brings about another aspect on “be consistent and be gradual, but always do more”. There comes a point where you need to enjoy what you have. You can still do more, but maybe that “more” is a new thing. My grandfather eventually retired and enjoyed not having to work and save. But he was still “doing more” as after retirement he started getting into photography. For me, I had to learn to be content with a 5 mile or 45 minute run… with having stomach definition. For me, “doing more” wasn’t more miles or more crunches. For me it was dropping a day of distance running and doing sprints instead. I was gradual and consistent and doing more, but now more meant new. It’s good to allow our motivations and desires to push us, but it’s equally good to learn to be content where you’re at or with what you have.

I know this is long, but I want to encourage others that it’s not just about good intentions. As my grandfather would say “it’s about being gradual and consistent”. It’s about sticking it out. It’s about the long haul. But it’s also about knowing your limits and being willing to start below your limits. It seems counter-intuitive to start below your limits if you want to surpass them, but the end results show themselves. Maybe you skipped the gym today after your first two weeks. Maybe you were in pain but decided to push through but now the pain is worse. My advice is simple: stop, rest and recover, and then start over. But scale it back. Do less than you know you can in the beginning. You can make bigger strides later. Skip the pain. Skip the injury setbacks. Let your body adjust gradually. Start small, start with less, and than gradually add more. No baby walks out of the womb. It crawls before it toddles before it walks before it runs. Maybe you want a six pack stomach. Does it really matter if you have it in three months or in six? How will you feel if you never have it at all because you did too much at the beginning and ended up failing? How will you feel when you realize you’ve had the same New Year’s resolution for 10 years in a row and have never seen success in completing it? Don’t give up, but do scale back in the beginning. Knowing your limits is awesome. But if you’re just starting out and if you’re about to become a statistic, then STOP. Scale it back and start small. Let your body gradually build up.

AJ

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114 Comments on "The Power of Gradual and Consistent"

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mona
mona
2 years 7 months ago

what an amazing website, and what an amazing story.
You Mark are an inspiration,
god bless

Colleen
Colleen
2 years 7 months ago

This is a great story! I am 46 and trying to get my first pull-up (at least as an adult). I had sort of already figured this out (that I needed to slow down and adjust as simply hanging from the pull up bar for about 10 seconds created massive soreness the next day) — but the way you laid this out was great Simple but very true advice for many aspects in life.

Andrew D.
Andrew D.
2 years 7 months ago
If you’re still working on that first pullup, consider “negatives”. Basically you stand on something (chair/box) so that your chin is slightly above the bar and then stop off and let yourself down slowly. This is how I got to being able to do 25 pullups straight. Step one was “negatives” with a 3 second lower down and only 3 reps in a chinup position. Once I got to doing 10 reps, I changed the slow let down to 5 seconds, then 7, and finally 10 seconds… so 10 sets of 10 seconds slow let downs. At this point, I… Read more »
Colleen
Colleen
2 years 7 months ago

Thanks. Basically hanging at the bottom of the negative for a few seconds is where I am starting off (without even lowering myself), but I will keep this in mind when I am ready to move on. As in your story, I already tried this last year but was derailed for various reasons so new year, trying again, slowly.

Caite
Caite
2 years 7 months ago

Perfectly timed and so helpful, as I havethe same goal as Colleen (rock on sistah!). The hub also suggested changing the hand position from pullup to chinup and I had read about the benefits of starting eccentrically (or negative), but the simple and straightforward outline of how to progress is super helpful, so thank you very much!

b2curious
b2curious
2 years 7 months ago

Thank you, Andrew. I’ve been struggling for a while to be able to do a pull-up for a while, with no success and my progress has stalled. My initial progress was slow, due chronic shoulder problems from having had whip-lash several times. I’ve been using a stepstool to help with the pull ups, but, like I said, my progress has stalled. However I can do negatives now. I used to not be able to do any. I think I’ll try negatives for a while and see if I can restart my progress. Thank you for the suggestion.

Nomad
Nomad
2 years 7 months ago

Doing reclined pullups can help. It is sort of like an upside down pushup, where you pull yourself up by a bar, trying to keep you body straight.

John
2 years 7 months ago

Very Nice! Simple, well said.

I put it up on my wall !

John

Beck W
Beck W
2 years 7 months ago
I’m surprised you don’t have a picture, but I think the lack of picture is probably making a statement, right? To quit with the instant gratification factor of all of this? Anyway- your post really speaks to me. I have been on again, off again with the primal diet part for years and just recently went full-fledge. And I bought a kettlebell a month ago and haven’t touched it… but now I’m going to start really gradual like you suggest… and I haven’t even jogged since I ran a half marathon in 2012… but I’m going to take a short… Read more »
Beck W
Beck W
2 years 7 months ago

*gradually (ha)

Andrew D.
Andrew D.
2 years 7 months ago
Actually, the lack of a picture is two-fold: one, its to protect my identity as I work for a government contractor and occasionally have to work overseas under other credentials. But, yes, the other reason is that I think too many people want the instant gratification. Nothing against P90x or Insanity or some of the supposedly fat burning *supplements* out there, but I think too many people try the “start hard to get the six pack” after seeing other people’s results, but end up binging on Krispy Kreme’s a week later. Personally I think that showing results can sometimes have… Read more »
BFBVince
2 years 7 months ago

The road to success is never as linear as we imagine. Its a lot of ups and downs and winding turns. Your grandpa was right though, the best fit line should be a consistent and steady upward slope.

2Rae
2Rae
2 years 7 months ago

I like this, many of us want things “yesterday” so we end up doing more than we should, me included. Years ago I figured that if I started slow I would keep the routine. Good information for all of us who have a tendency to overdo it in the beginning. Thanks!

Peggy
Peggy
2 years 7 months ago

YES YES YES!!!!!
Ok I need to apply this to my self 🙂

Kelsey
Kelsey
2 years 7 months ago

Love it! This is exactly what I do, I need to work hard on being consistent and not fizzling out, or thinking “I need to do SO MUCH, that I can’t even imagine where to begin…so I just won’t even begin”.

Thank you for your story and inspiration!

Jessica Wegrzyn
Jessica Wegrzyn
2 years 7 months ago
Thanks for this!! I had a killer workout last week, working my muscles until failure. This was my first workout using the primal fitness guidelines for “lifting heavy things” and I felt great afterward. Then the next day and the next I had unbearable muscle soreness. It hurt to walk, and it was challenging to walk up and down my stairs. Way too many squats! I am just now feeling back to normal, and I was gearing up to do it all again on Saturday and just deal with the consequences. However, I think I will take your advice and… Read more »
Andrew D.
Andrew D.
2 years 7 months ago
I can totally relate to that. Try this… take a few extra days to recover so you’re 100% but not so long that you lose your motivation. Then do everything you just did and cut it by 50% two ways… 50% less reps and 50% less weight. And then write down where you’re at. I have a dry erase board I update daily/weekly to track progress. Remember the normal rules of giving yourself enough sleep, eating right, and letting muscles groups rest (arms one day, legs the next, etc). And than gradually increase. Maybe it’ll take you a month to… Read more »
Jessica Wegrzyn
Jessica Wegrzyn
2 years 7 months ago

Thanks for the advice!

Shireen
Shireen
2 years 7 months ago

Wonderful!

Primal and Proud
Primal and Proud
2 years 7 months ago

Your grandfather sounds like a very special person. Thank you for sharing his story and yours! Congratulations on your lifestyle upgrade!!

Pastor dave Deppisch
2 years 7 months ago

Well– at 63+ if I move along too gradually I’ll be retired before I can have a six-pack (unless it’s a six pack of Bud!)

Seriously– nice advice–Just Do IT

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
2 years 7 months ago

Drinking Bud? Aren’t you Canadia?

Paleo Bon Rurgundy
2 years 7 months ago

-n

Dave
2 years 7 months ago

Eh? No– Born in Queens, NY raised in NJ–escaped to University of Georgia and live in Nashville TN

paleocrushmom
2 years 7 months ago

Cool story.

As Yoda said: “Always pass on what you have learned.”

Colleen
Colleen
2 years 7 months ago

+1

Nocona
Nocona
2 years 7 months ago

The Hare beats the Rabbit once again. Great story.

Nocona
Nocona
2 years 7 months ago

Uh, I meant the Turtle beats the Hare…or something like that!

Grokesque
Grokesque
2 years 7 months ago

Great story and a great message – I’m going to apply this to several aspects of my life too! Well done and thanks for ‘passing it on’.

Carolb
Carolb
2 years 7 months ago
Great story! I totally felt your wife’s pain. I too, went back to the gym 1.5 yrs after a hospitalization, and my orientation was with a sadistic personal trainer, who once he learned I couldn’t afford to buy sessions with him, made me do all these exercises (which I still managed to complete). Despite the fact I was 70 pounds too heavy and I told him I had been sedentary for years, especially post-hospital, he still had me doing crunches while balancing on the Swiss ball, etc. I could barely walk down the stairs leaving the gym that day and… Read more »
Matt
2 years 7 months ago

This is awesome advice. I tend to be an all-or nothing person (which is why I’ve either been losing or gaining weight for the last 20 years, never at a stable weight). “gradual and consistent” sounds like an excellent mantra to stay on track!

Cindy
2 years 7 months ago

Love the “six pack wielding underwear model” statement! Great story and great advice, also very well written.

Colleen
Colleen
2 years 7 months ago

Thanks for sharing. Very helpful for me today.

john
john
2 years 7 months ago
Very well said – I received similiar advice when I was young – to get good at something, do a little, a lot. Don’t wait to cram for an exam, do a little each day. Don’t try to run a marathon the first time out, do a little running a lot of times. If you want to do 10 chin ups, do one or two often – grease the groove. Works every time. I like the addition of always do more. it was implied in the advice I was given. I am much older at 58 but I can still… Read more »
Paleo-curious
2 years 7 months ago

“Do a little, a lot”– I think that’s my new mantra!

Angela
Angela
2 years 7 months ago

I tend to me an all-or-nothing kind of person and this reminded me how important it is to not give up, but to stay consistent and gradually improve. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

Tiffany
2 years 7 months ago

Thanks. Basically hanging at the bottom of the negative for a few seconds is where I am starting off (without even lowering myself), but I will keep this in mind when I am ready to move on. As in your post, I already tried this some years ago but was derailed for various reasons so new year, trying again, slowly. Maybe time is key to reach goals

Cal
Cal
2 years 7 months ago

Hanging from the top position is always best, even if it’s only for 1 second to start with.

But… if you insist on hanging at the bottom, make sure your shoulders are down, chest up, arms slightly bent, and complete body tense (otherwise it’s too easy to pull, overstretch, and damage your shoulder and elbow ligaments, tendons, and muscles).

Michael B
Michael B
2 years 7 months ago

Really inspiring read. Well written to boot. I had to stop to think if this was a modern Hemingway article. Congrats on everything. Many people forget about quality opposed to quantity. I’m going to start saving 10% of my paychecks.
Thanks

Kim
Kim
2 years 7 months ago
Thanks for the excellent story and the words of wisdom. My goal for January was to run (without stopping) 3 miles. I had been running/walking consistently for 2 miles when January began (okay, probably not during the holiday break). I made it to 2.5 miles in week 3 (there it is, the 3rd week of January), got out of bed the next morning and injured my achilles walking to the bathroom. No joke. Of course, I was also weight-lifting, working on my balance and flexibility and taking a Pilates class, for 45 minutes, 6 days a week. Up till now,… Read more »
Andrew D.
Andrew D.
2 years 7 months ago
Its funny… so often when people try to get into shape we’re conditioned to think “build muscle” or “burn fat”. But those are only two parts of our overall frame. What about tendons and ligaments and joints and bone density? When we’re out of shape, all of those things are out of shape. Forgive the generalization as I’m no doctor, but those tendons and ligaments are what connect the muscles to the bones. When we go all out we don’t just over work the muscles, but all the connective tissue in between. Same for the bones. Statistics show that you’re… Read more »
Paleo-curious
2 years 7 months ago

This is what wreaked havoc with me! I should’ve known better– my joints are my weakest link & always have been since I developed Celiac-related knee pain at 14. I know I need to be cautious, but I get so angry at myself for being weak, sometimes… I’m going to print this post out to read when I get in that self-defeating mood.

Thank you so much!

Island Girl
Island Girl
2 years 7 months ago

This reminds me of a quote I read a long time ago, but can’t remember who said it–“The greatest cause of unhappiness is giving up what we really want for what we want right now.”

JudyB
JudyB
2 years 7 months ago

+5

Becky Frisbie
Becky Frisbie
2 years 7 months ago

“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most for what you want right now” Zig Ziglar

Brian B.
Brian B.
2 years 7 months ago

Wow!!

I must say, this story truly moved me. Great article, great site, that just made my day.

Emily
Emily
2 years 7 months ago

This may be one of my favorite posts I’ve read on MDA in awhile. What great advice!

Jenny
Jenny
2 years 7 months ago

what a great, encouraging message. as i look back, my primal transformation over the past 3 1/2 years HAS been gradual and consistent, and always adding a little more. and it’s stuck! i started with gradually cleaning up my diet, and now i’m gradually getting stronger and fitter. thanks for the wisdom!

John
John
2 years 7 months ago

One of my favorite success stories!

Jon
Jon
2 years 7 months ago
Your grandfather gives great advice. An acquaintance of mine recently recommended that I try the Convict Conditioning protocol, which is a progressive calisthenics protocol that advocates the same “gradual and consistent” strategy. I’ve also heard the same strategy applied to habit formation from people such as James Clear, but until your story, the dots just didn’t connect as strongly as they have now. And I never even thought to apply that same strategy to other areas of my life. So thank you for that! And ten bonus points to you for submitting such a well-written story! Stories like these are… Read more »
Jon
Jon
2 years 7 months ago

Oops, I forgot to add this: Congratulations on all your success so far, and may you have many more years of it.

Jenny
Jenny
2 years 7 months ago

Exactly the story I needed, as having been a fibromyalgic most of my life, but needing to increase the exercise, was wondering how to do it. Thankyou.

Candi
Candi
2 years 7 months ago

AJ, your Grandpa is a wise man as are you to follow his advice. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. It’s time for me to do something different. Like live in the present, make purposeful and thoughtful decisions, and take your advice 🙂

smilla
smilla
2 years 7 months ago

I really loved this one, thank you so much. I tend to get overenthusiastic about every new enterprise, tell everyone about it ad nauseam and jump all in only to burnout embarassingly fast and, too often, publicly. At 37 it is getting ridiculous. Time to consistently and gradually (and quietly) become a steady and responsible and ever-doing-more adult.

I can’t wait!

Paleo-curious
2 years 7 months ago

This is such a good message for me right now. I hurt myself last Fall trying to do too much too fast, & it took me back almost to square one. Very frustrating, but I’ve been inching my way up again. Sometimes I feel so impatient & discouraged, & catch myself thinking really negative thoughts about being doomed to be a wimp. This post was a much-needed pep talk about the power of small changes & patience!

skeedaddy
skeedaddy
2 years 7 months ago

For the embodiment of this advice see “Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training” by Mark Rippetoe. GROK ON!

smilla
smilla
2 years 7 months ago
Also I really appreciated your point that more doesn’t need to mean more of the same. When we decide to pursue something (health, financial security, career, etc.) and we spend a significant amount of time in that pursuit, it is so easy to get caught up and to forget to stop to take account: am I there yet? I suppose it is physics: a body in motion tends to stay in motion. We would be better off, more balanced, if we stopped once in a while to take note of our surroundings and of ourselves, to consider whether we have… Read more »
Melissa
Melissa
2 years 7 months ago
I’m always so encouraged by the Friday stories (and far too often comment of WOW, EXCELLENT, WAY TO GO). but, today? Today just blew me away. I *truly* needed to hear this. I went gangbusters last summer into a Whole30 + weightlifting + cardio + a ton of other changes. That train to crazy town lasted about 2 months. then, the wheels started coming off. Fast forward to today and I’ve gained back every pound and inch I lost and everyday I tell myself that tomorrow, I’m getting back on that train (and doing everything all at once.) Clearly, this… Read more »
Mae
Mae
2 years 7 months ago

That was awesome. I just printed “be consistent and be gradual, but always do more” and hung it on my wall. Thanks for the great reminder. It’s so easy to forget with all that’s going on. Definitely need to teach my kids this valuable lesson, especially while time is on their side.

john
john
2 years 7 months ago
Further to my comment further up, another thing I was told was that if you read a half hour a day in your chosen profession, you would get a ahead faster. I tried this for a while but when you are young you have better things to do and a half hour is a long time. When my career stalled out, I did try this again but again 1/2 hour is long time :-). I finally commmited to this when I started at 10 minutes a day reading a sales book. Then I bought another, then I went ot 15… Read more »
Rene
Rene
2 years 7 months ago

Great story, very well written, your grandfather is a wise man!

Tessy
Tessy
2 years 7 months ago

One of the best written and inspirational posts I’ve seen. Thanks Andrew!

JennF
JennF
2 years 7 months ago

Your grandfather was a wise man, and so are you for taking his words to heart! Thanks so much for sharing your story 🙂

Quentin
Quentin
2 years 7 months ago

AJ, you hit the nail on the head. You speak the truth! Normally I get a little annoyed (not in a negative way) when there are no before/after photos. But this has been one of the best success stories I’ve read in the last 3-4 years I’ve been on MDA. Thanks! I plan on implementing “gradual and consistent” throughout all aspects of my life. It’s like the whole Primal lifestyle, it’s always been sitting there in the back of my mind waiting for me to bring it out.

Brian
Brian
2 years 7 months ago

At 54 years old, this lesson took me a long time to learn, and unfortunately, it seems that I have to relearn it periodically. My philosophy now is to leave a little in the tank. Meaning I don’t push myself to the point where I can barely do the next rep or extra mile. My injuries and pains have reduced quite a bit by thinking this way. Not perfect because like a said, I forget every now and then and have to relearn.

maidel
2 years 7 months ago

“Leave little in the tank”. That’s well said. That way you can function tomorrow.
Loved this post!

maidel
2 years 7 months ago

I meant: “Leave a little in the tank”!

Brett
Brett
2 years 7 months ago

Wow. Great story and quite timely for me.I am 47 and I injured my shoulder (rotator cuff sprain) going to hard too fast. I still am not back 100%, yet I inquired at the local Crossfit today. I think I will build up gradually to bigger things (like Crossfit) down the road. Thanks for sharing AJ.

Brett

Andrew D.
Andrew D.
2 years 7 months ago

Nothing against Crossfit (I do Murph’s each weekend) but watch out for the kip’ping pullup if you have rotator cuff issues. I prefer military dead hangs. Kip’ping pullups can cause or exacerbate rotator cuff issues…

Brett
Brett
2 years 7 months ago

No kidding. I think doing pull-ups is what aggravated my rotator cuff to begin with. Thanks for the tip.

Deanna
Deanna
2 years 7 months ago

Wow, this is probably the best success story I’ve ever read! I am definitely the instant-gratification, all-in kind of person (which is how Primal got me hooked, actually), but this approach makes so much more sense and is sustainable! I love it!

Korree
Korree
2 years 7 months ago

Beautifully written word picture of your grandfather and kudos to you for listening to his sage advice. As a general rule I have found 90% of the best advice in the world isn’t listened to as people don’t want to hear it or are not ready to hear it. Congratulations. Cheers

Stacie
2 years 7 months ago

Great story, thank you for sharing. I’ve been training for a triathlon and although I’m in pretty decent shape and typically feel like I can always do more than what my training program says, I make myself stop because I know in two days (or next week, or next month) I actually WILL be doing more, and I need my body to be ready for that. Wonderful advice, and reminds me of my current mantra, “Trust the Process.”

Cicely
Cicely
2 years 7 months ago

Loved this post! (I didn’t even notice there was no picture until someone brought it up in the comments.)

SarahK
SarahK
2 years 7 months ago

Wonderful advice, thank you for sharing AJ!

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