The wisdom of gradualism, Part I

Some people can quit things “cold” and for others it takes time. The concept of gradualism which is “proceeding or changing by steps or degrees” is also mentioned in the Hon. Elijah Muhammad’s book, How to Eat to Live, Book I. In regards to eating one meal a day, he writes, “First drop to two meals a day, then one meal a day, and then one meal every other day. It is better to do it this way so that you will not make yourself sick (p. 60).

Personally, I went from a four meal a day meat-eater to a one meal a day vegetarian. I gradually stopped eating a heavy pancake breakfast to only eating fruit in the morning. I also stopped my midnight pizza deliveries from my college days. Gradually, my four meals went down to one meal. Granted, I may have a flashback to my “2-3 meal a day” days, but I always feel best when I get up in the morning and pray and later eat my one meal.

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There is no mystery God where ‘poof’ and things happen. There is a process for everything. Every action is preceded by a thought, sometimes it is a quick thought, but if you dwell on it long enough, you may act on it. How many of us have found ourselves at midnight thinking about a piece of pie left in the refrigerator. We continue thinking about the pie until we finally get up and go eat the rest of it. This is why we must continually guard our thoughts and feed and strengthen them with positive “life-giving” information. As I was “feeding” my thoughts the other day with the book, Closing the Gap, I found myself re-reading the wonderful points in the introduction of the book. One point that really resonated with me was, “In order to become anything, you have to “be” the thing desired” (p. xvii). How do you “become” something? Aren’t there steps? Yes. Is there a process? Absolutely. Anyone who has obtained greatness as an athlete, minister, teacher, inventor, etc., went through a process of “becoming” while holding the “vision” of what he or she wanted to “be.” You have to start walking the walk and talking the talk beforehand. It is called “practice.” (smile)

Another quote that stood out was, “Magnetism is not generated; it is displayed. Health, wealth, beauty and genius are not created; they are only manifested by the arrangement of your mind–that is your concept of yourself.” (p. xix) What is your “self-concept” or idea or thought of self? Your self-concept affects how you treat yourself and others. If you have a poor self-concept or hold the idea that you are not very valuable, you will not take the necessary steps to safeguard yourself. We all need to take the time and go through a thorough self-examination, self-analysis and self-correction.

During the Saviours’ Day weekend, I got the opportunity to speak to Dr. Nkenge Muhammad, an OB/GYN from Savannah, Georgia, who was giving participants feedback for improving their health. She said that I would be surprised at how many people haven’t even tried the basics of improving their health by simply starting an exercise program. “If you decide you don’t want to take medication, you should be working with your physician and discuss what lifestyle changes you can make so that you are less likely to become dependent on medication later. The first two steps are eating healthy and exercising,” said Dr. Muhammad.

What are some gradual steps we can take? First, write down your goals, long and short term. Large goals and small goals. Second, ask for guidance from God. Ask for dedication, resources and strength. Third, write out a three-day food diary. Document what you eat and when for at least three days. This will be a part of the self-examination and self-analysis. Make the necessary changes in your diet. A simple place to start is to change your drinks between meals to all water, no juice, soda or high calorie coffee drinks. (You would be surprised that we can drink almost 800 calories a day if we have one iced coffee, smoothie and two bottles of juice.) Lastly, take time to plan and schedule exercise. Our leader does it, why don’t we?

It is time that we take responsibility to improve our health and build a community of healthy men, women and children. To get a weekly inspirational fitness message on physical, spiritual and financial fitness, send an email to [email protected] Let us “get fit to live” together in 2009. A new beginning! May Allah (God) bless us all with peace, love, health, wealth and happiness.

(Audrey Muhammad, a certified personal trainer and aerobics instructor, is the author of Get Fit to Live: Be your best You! available on amazon.com or write to Get Fit to Live, P.O. Box 61402, Raleigh, NC 27661-1402. Please consult a physician before beginning any new workout or dietary plan. Send questions and comments to [email protected] or visit www.getfit2live.org)