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Fitness is a Journey, Not a Destination

By Marc Perry / July 1, 2017

As Thanksgiving approaches, the media starts kicking into high gear with fitness and nutrition tips like:

“5 Tips to Eat Healthy on Thanksgiving”

“How to Lose Fat On Thanksgiving Day”

…and the list goes on.

Instead of offering you some tips on how to eat less on Thanksgiving, I’m hoping to share with you something deeper, more fundamental to your life.

I have a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving day and one person in particular is my Dad. My dad taught me one of my most valuable fitness lessons years ago, but I only started to fully understand this lesson in the last few months. I want to share this valuable lesson with you today.

My dad grew up in a lower-middle class household to immigrant parents in Brooklyn, NY, then later moved to Long Island. He was naturally a very smart guy (a lot smarter than I am) who skipped a grade when he was young. At the same time, he was a total jock who excelled at sports from baseball, to wrestling, to swimming. He was the quintessential scholar athlete who I tried to emulate.

After college, my father became a Medical Doctor focusing on Ophthalmology (eye surgery). After 40+ years of hard work, he now presides over one of the most successful ophthalmology practices in the country and is flown around the world to give lectures and discuss his experience and research.

My dad is very “old school” if you know the type. He works very, very hard and doesn’t have much sympathy (i.e. none) if you are not willing to work hard either. He can be a bit rough around the edges and can be very stern, but also has a big heart as well. A contradiction of sorts.

One day when I was 13 years old, I walked up to my Dad’s study where he spent a lot of time looking at slides, reading, and writing papers. As he saw me coming up the stairs he motioned for me to sit down on the couch that faced his chair. He seemed pretty excited about something.

He swiveled his chair behind him and pointed at two framed posters on the wall, which he had just purchased. He began to speak to me about the poster on the left, which had an image of a canoe on a deep, expansive river. Underneath this image were the words:

“Success is a journey, not a destination”

When I left my corporate career behind me to focus on my passion for fitness, every once in a while I would think about this phrase. When I look back at the last few years of my life, my biggest mistake was not being more patient, not fully heeding the wisdom of the simple phrase “Success is a journey, not a destination.” I was always scrambling to have a certain number of clients, to make a certain amount of money, which negatively affected my lifestyle and my happiness.

Here's my fitness reading for the next couple of weeks.

So what does all this have to do with fitness? What’s the important fitness lesson I learned?

Similar to success, fitness is a journey, not a destination.

Success is striving to make the necessary changes in your life, the persistence toward reaching your goals, not the specific number of pounds you lose, or muscle you gain. Over time with consistent effort and patience, you will reach your goals and create new goals in their place.

No matter where you are on your fitness journey, whether you are just starting out, or have been traveling on the fitness path for years, I applaud you for a worthwhile pursuit. All of us who are on this journey together share a very important belief – taking care of our bodies is important. The methods may change over time, we may debate which path is better, or worse, but the core belief still remains.

I look forward to continuing to educate myself for many years to come. I sincerely hope the effort I put into learning more about fitness will be to your benefit, which was one of my motivations for starting BuiltLean. BuiltLean.com reflects our journey together to learn more about fitness and apply what’s useful to help improve how we look, feel, and function.


  • Nalini says:

    Thank you, Marc and Dad. Very inspiring.

  • Jason says:

    Thanks Marc, it's a great post and you're right the journey is the real reward, even when it's not always fun. I've been battling some nagging injuries for the past 4 years that keep me out of the gym sometimes, but I'm sticking with it. The and because it's been a battle, it makes the results feel that much better.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and all in the community.

  • Megan says:

    Thank you! A great lesson for all. This year I have tried to encourage my family to focus on the company, not the food. I hope that message sinks in a little, but we'll see.

    When you think of your fitness and weight loss as a life-long journey instead of a diet, it means there is no end date. Maybe you take a wrong turn that you need to correct, or you run out of gas, but that path is still there and all you have to do is get back on it. By changing your mindset to think that there is no "before and after" only "then and now" you set yourself to continue on even after you stumble.

    I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

  • Nuhu says:

    True...nice one Marc.

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you, Marc.

  • Marc Perry says:

    Thanks everyone for all the comments. Appreciate it! If you are celebrating Thanksgiving, I hope you have a great time with your family and friends.

  • Bill says:

    Marc, Don't give all the credit to your terrific Dad, your super Mom deserves 50% as well.

    • Marc Perry says:

      @Bill - Of course I give my Mom a ton of credit! If it weren't for my Mom, not sure I would have went down the fitness path in the first place. It was her idea to build a small home gym in my house. She also bought every exercise DVD ever made in the 80's, along with every Body by Jake fitness product, so fitness was all around me growing up.

  • Daksha says:

    Thank you Mac for sharing your story and giving me more reasons to keep motivated about fitness. I can just see your dad as you are telling the story because I am one of your dad's patients for years.

  • Geri says:

    Knowing your Father in a professional forum, I can totally see him sitting in a chair sharing that piece of advice with you. It is wonderful to see a Father/Son combination that has so much positive energy between them. You are both so proud of each other, the warmth and affections comes flowing out to us. The sincerity with which you write and want to share is something rare today, something to be cherished.

    Thank you

    • Marc Perry says:

      @Geri - Thanks for the comment Geri. Much appreciated.

  • Vic Virzera says:

    ;Hi Marc:
    You continue to out do yourself by adding addtional dimensions and motivations to physical fitness and health. I could not agree more with your journey message.because in essence, it can become a way of life rather than a small segments of time commited to acheiving various objectives…weight loss, muscle development etc.. As far as your dad is concerned, I’ve had the rare and delightful pleasure of knowing your dad and mom since before they were married. You are indeed lucky to have such wonderful loving parents and they are indeed lucky to have you as a son. An addage I like to utilize that relates to what you are doing as well as to physical fitness and health in general is…….. “You get out of life what you put into it.” In your case you have been working hard and hyou are on the journey of accomplishment. Take care and thank you for you excellent material.