Do you remember “The Jack LaLanne Show”? As a child, I can recall my mother watching the program on our black-and-white television. Jack was a “fitness expert” before there was such a thing, and I remember him as a man in constant motion. Wearing his trademark jumpsuit, he took viewers through exercise routines they could easily do right at home, using props like a kitchen chair and a broom.
I hadn’t thought much about LaLanne since then, until a few days ago when I saw a short video clip of him online (since taken down)—and noticed a hand-written list of 10 words just over his right shoulder. I tracked down the footage, and it turned out that Jack was promoting an easy-to-follow “10-Point Self-improvement Plan”. And surprisingly, his plan is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.
For those who don’t know Jack LaLanne, he is regarded as the “the founder of the modern fitness movement”. And after looking back on his life, I now see what made him such impressive figure. His life mission was to “help people help themselves” and he meant all people. Jack insisted that exercise was for everyone, regardless of your age or physical condition, and that you could engage in it anytime, anywhere, even with meager equipment.
Most importantly, what made Jack different from the exercise gurus of the past, was that he took a 360-degree view of life. While he preached the benefits of regular exercise, he also spoke of the importance of a proper diet, having the right attitude and the need for faith. He wanted to improve his viewers’ well-being, body, mind and spirit.
Jack called his 10-point list “little secrets to help improve yourself from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head”. And he promised that if you tried it each day for a week, you would begin to see “an amazing change in the way you feel and look”. Check out the list and Jack’s advice below, with my comments noted in italics.
Jack LaLanne’s 10-Point Self Improvement Plan
- Exercise. It’s the key to everything, if you don’t exercise you will look and feel old. Jack exercised daily right through his 96th year of life.
- Nutrition. Eat more fruits and vegetables, and more lean meats. Cut out white flour, sugar and fried food. Be conscious of what you’re putting in your body. Jack swears he had a life-changing experience once he cut junk food out of his diet.
- Positive Thinking. Think wonderful thoughts. Count your blessings. Appreciate what you have and don’t focus on what you don’t.
- Good Habits. Replace a bad habit with a good one. Have 10 minutes to spare? Instead of mindlessly scanning your phone, try a mini-meditation session or a walk around the block.
- Grooming. Be aware of your personal appearance, the way you look, how you dress. “Be a lovelier you.”
- Smile. Keep a pleasant look on your face. Smiles are infectious.
- Posture. Whether walking, standing or sitting, “pull the tummy in and keep the shoulders back”.
- Help Others. It is more blessed to give than to receive. Help others have a better life. When you help others, you also help yourself.
- Relaxation. Spare 5-10 minutes each afternoon to lie down in a dark room, completely relaxed. “Recharge the human battery”.
- Faith. You can’t do it all by yourself, have faith in Nature and God above. Put forth some effort and you’ll find that God helps those who help themselves.
It all makes sense even today, doesn’t it? Read these 10 points again. Then, print them for easy access and try them tomorrow, and the next day and the day after that. And see if the result isn’t a happier, healthier you.
This post originally appeared on my Patheos Wake Up Call column, June 30, 2015.