Steve Macari was a vice president at a high-powered investment management firm when a surfing vacation to Barbados changed his life. In the water, he experienced a too long-forgotten clarity of mind that inspired him to change trajectories and pursue his passion for holistic health practices, nutrition and fitness instead.
Macari was certified at the C.H.E.K. Institute for advanced exercise education. He also studied reflexology, herbal, Ayurvedic and naturopathic medicine and, most recently, manual therapy and corrective exercise under French osteopath, Guy Voyer.
Now, the New York-based holistic health practitioner specializes in nutrition, weight management, digestive health, detoxification and stress management. Based on this knowledge, he customizes individual healing and strengthening lifestyle programs for clients.
After exploring many aspects of modern fitness, Macari also designed the SLVRBK Mat, a multi-functioning exercise mat for yoga, Pilates and rehabilitation programs. He also writes a health and wellness blog for his site.
Below, the expert shares his four key principles for relieving stress and emphasizes the importance of having a dream:
Live The Process: Was a specific person or event the catalyst in your decision to leave investment management for holistic healing and fitness?
Steve Macari: Health, wellness and exercise have always been a part of my personal life. They’re things I have enjoyed learning about, but, for a variety of reasons, I never considered that I could make a living in this area. I shifted my perspective after returning from a surf vacation in Barbados.
Being in the ocean for extended periods of time enabled me to quiet my mind and focus on being present. Unfortunately, this is something I had not experienced in years. With a quiet mind, I was able to gain a true perspective on what mattered most to me.
I returned to New York super focused and clear about what I wanted in my life. I realized I was playing a part: I wasn’t programmed to sit at a desk, wearing business casual attire. I just needed to figure out how to make the change.
It took a few years and a series of ups and down before I broke free, but the experience was worth it. On a lighter note, there were other clues that I needed a change like when I began walking around the office barefoot and asking IT for a standup desk.
LTP: What’s your biggest obstacle or temptation in staying healthy and on your wellness path?
SM: The biggest challenge for me is living in New York and focusing on slowing myself down in all areas of my life. The constant energy here can be very powerful, but it can also be damaging to the mind and body, if not managed. And, since cutting gluten from my diet, I really miss a good slice of pizza (or three).
LTP: What advice do you find yourself giving most often to patients who, like most of us, struggle with stress management?
SM: My starting point for clients is one that I use myself. The model will sound quite simple, but, when you learn to balance these areas of your life, you will see how powerful they can become. In my holistic health training, I learned about the principle of the four doctors, who each represent a question:
Dr. Diet: Am I meeting my nutrition and hydration needs?
Dr. Quiet: Am I getting the necessary sleep and recovery time that I need to take care of myself mentally and physically?
Dr. Happiness: Am I following my dream in life or someone else's?
Dr. Movement: Am I moving my body daily?
If you can learn to balance and address each of these four areas on a daily basis, you will have a very effective stress management tool.
LTP: How did you come to invent the SLVRBK mat?
SM: As someone who likes to vary his exercise, I struggled to find an exercise mat that worked across a variety of disciplines. Fitness routines have become more and more cross-functioning with classes melding aspects of yoga, Pilates, dance and strength training into one optimized program. There was nothing on the market that addressed this, so I decided to design it myself.
I created the SLVRBK mat to be sticky enough for a yoga practice, cushioned enough for Pilates and corrective exercise and durable enough for mat-based strength training, all with an antimicrobial surface. I also wanted to focus on aesthetics, so it has a modern, minimal, stylish look and feel.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
SM: A sunny day, a light breeze, family and friends at the beach, surfing, fishing. It’s doing something for a living that you would do for free.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process," and how do you do that every day?
SM: You must have a goal or a dream in life that you are moving towards or living now. As I mentioned, I became very clear in recent years about my goal. I used to wake up and feel anxious about spending nine hours a day doing something about which I wasn't passionate. I now wake up excited to start the day and focused on what I am doing.
In addition, I try to remember that we are all part of this interconnected matrix of energy called, “The Universe,” and we are all here to create our own story. Stay focused on creating that and recognize that, when you are on the right path in life, you will start meeting people and having experiences that may at first seem like a coincidence or an accident, but they are meant to happen. I also consistently remind myself that life is a boomerang: what you throw out is what you get back.