's your secret number


No, it's not the lottery numbers, or a magic phone number, or even your ideal weight.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from my clients about working with me is that the process takes longer than they thought. We’ve been habituated into believing that if we just take this pill, all our symptoms will go away, and we can get back to living the way we used to. The medical and pharmaceutical industries have been training us that way for years. Not to suggest that doctors don’t have our best interests at heart, but when the only tool in your toolbox is a medication, then everything gets fixed with a prescription.

So here’s where the magic number comes in. When clients work with me, I ask for a commitment up front. I expect they’ll be committed to doing whatever changes we agree on for 40 days.

Why forty? It’s a natural time cycle. It’s the time it takes to become something new. Well documented throughout history, there are many confirmations of this transition time. You can find spiritual significance in Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and even Zoroastrianism. It is also culturally significant in Chinese and Russian traditions as a time of waiting between major events. A Chinese woman would sequester herself for 40 days after childbirth before re-entering society (and today, we use 6 weeks as a timeframe for women to resume typical activity). Russian Orthodox tradition holds that the soul remains with the body for 40 days following death. Celestially, when Venus, often called the Evening Star or Morning Star, goes retrograde (appears to move backwards in the sky), it does so for 40 days. Some suggest that this retrograde period is what inspired the 40 day periods of rest, fasting, and meditation seen in the spiritual traditions.

Looking more inward, 40 days is the time it takes for your body to normalize after a change. Your skin cells, liver, and lung cells completely renew in 40 days. Your digestive lining renews every 2-3 days, so in 40 days, it has recycled as many as 20 times. In your immune system, it takes at least two weeks, and as much as 4 weeks to clear your body of an antigen-antibody complex that was created in response to eating a food that causes an immune response for you. That means your body is still on high alert, looking for whatever is making your immune system react. Productivity experts tell you that a new habit is fully integrated in 40 days. Forty days is a manageable chunk of time. When you look at making a change, it’s possible to see the end and it forces you to set clear boundaries to let the change fit in that space.

It seems unreasonable to most of us to not be able to get immediate results. After all, that’s what we’re used to. We want our books downloaded right away. We want to stream our music right after we purchase. When we diet and exercise, we want to see results right away. We’re not accustomed to waiting, and waiting when we don’t see any progress is especially hard.

When you’re making a change in your health, it can be frustrating. You actually are making an impact on your health – it’s just harder to notice. If you’re tracking your symptoms, you might see that your bloating or pain reduces after two weeks. Most people will see a difference in 3 weeks, and that improvement will continue for another 3 weeks.

That’s why I ask for 40 days. My goal for you is to get the results you want; to create the ideal conditions for your body to restore and recover. In keeping with the natural cycles, this timeline gives you the space to become something new – to feel more healthy, to feel more energetic, and to feel more connected to your body and spirit. You may be satisfied there for a while, or you might want to go on. Just continue the upward spiral, in 40 day blocks.

See, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?

Lisa Akers