Earlier this summer, a running friend told me of a book she was reading written by an amazing woman. The more she talked, I began to realize I had met this author.
Still a young thing in my 50s, I participated in a Chi Running Workshop held in Bethesda, Maryland. One of the trainers working with Danny Dreyer was Betty Holston Smith, a super-fit, personable woman around 60 years of age.
As Danny introduced his training assistants, he told us Betty was a coach for her local running group as well as serving as a Chi Running Instructor. We also learned that many years earlier, she and her sister were the first black students to integrate the school where we were meeting for this training.
So, these years later, as my friend excitedly told me about the book she discovered, I, of course, had to get a copy of my own. Betty’s self-titled book, Lifestyle by Nature, details her experience over many years of developing a process that has worked for her. She modifies her diet and activity as she learns of new or updated information.
Without going into specifics, Betty is now in her 80s and continues to be in incredible shape, continuing to run and swim fantastic distances and has an active and healthy lifestyle.
In her book, she shares how she achieved a full lifestyle change from some unhealthy living in her early adulthood, and how she still manages to maintain it.
Betty Holston Smith spent 30 to 40 years investigating health information and carefully developing a plan for herself. She happily shares what she learned and suggests we get curious and learn more as well. Her process developed out of her curiosity and desire to live a natural lifestyle, and she acted on both to achieve that life.
Betty eagerly shares with her readers a guide to finding their own best life through the six steps, done in order, that she advocates and continues to follow.
As you begin, find your internal strength. Betty suggests searching your psyche for that challenge or trauma you had to overcome. Search for the strength within.
You will use that inner strength as you proceed to your healthier life. Where you find your inner strength will be different for each person, and it will be important to be true to yourself through each step.
Spend time considering how your body can impact your thinking and how your thoughts and beliefs can impact your physical health and achievements. I particularly liked the One Breath Focus technique.
Betty focuses on functional nutrition and functional fitness. She recommends quality foods along with exercise that strengthens, as well as increases flexibility, balance, and relaxation. She puts nutrition and fitness on equal status of necessity.
In Betty’s experience, if you have worked diligently through the first three steps, it becomes easier. You will know when you are crossing that line.
It will likely be a struggle getting to Step 4, and you will have found your way through obstacles to get to this point. You will have your program down, but she recommends continuing to push and explore how to further improve mind-body and nutrition-movement.
New challenges will always be before us. Those challenges will keep us on the correct path and keep us curious. There is always something new to reach for.
This is where it all pays off. If Betty is any indication, when you arrive at Step 6 you will feel better generally, deal with stress better, be in better condition as you age and be stronger if some of those age-related health issues come your way.
Having followed the steps consistently, Betty believes, although you must continue to challenge yourself, the pattern of improvement and kindness to yourself becomes permanent internally.
I consider myself to be a healthy and active person who continues to work toward a better me. Although I doubt I will reach Betty’s incredible fitness, energy, and discipline level, I have room for improvement, and there is much to be learned from her.
I particularly like the appendices that provide a matrix for specific vitamins/foods/health possibilities. It is an easily used guide. Additionally, the appendix on body alignment is visually easy to follow.
Betty follows a plant-based diet, so you will not find most animal products in her chart. Although I rarely eat meat, I do enjoy fish, eggs, dairy products, etc. So, for my own reminders, I have hand-written in where they those products provide nutrients.
I’m pleased to have run across Betty Holston Smith twice in my life; once as a Chi Running Clinic participant and now through her book, learning far more about her and her path to a natural lifestyle.
Do you attempt to follow a natural lifestyle, avoiding processed foods and working on mind-body harmony? What have you read recently that has made you curious about how much you can improve your life, your health, your happiness? Are you excited and curious about such a challenge? Let’s have a conversation!