Just about every time I blog about trying to live a healthier lifestyle, I hear from people who say my journey has inspired them to make positive changes of their own. Deep down inside, I’m hardwired to help people. That something I said–some piece of information I provided–helped even one person in some small way thrills me to no end.
Over the last few years I’ve heard from quite a few of you. Maybe you went on a diet, gave Zumba a try, or started running or bicycling. Yes, to have been a source of inspiration makes me very happy. But I’m concerned that so few of you have stuck with it.
Yeah. I’m talking about you. Don’t worry. I’m not going to mention any names. I don’t have to. You know who you are.
Before I jump into my lecture, let me say the only reason I’m saying something is because I care. You see, I like you, and I want you to be around for a long time–and not just so you can buy my books. I mean, we’re friends, aren’t we? So I’m going to tell you the truth like only a good friend can.
Maybe you think you’re too old or too far gone for anything you do to make a difference. Or perhaps you’re simply too busy to take care of yourself, or have never really gotten in to the whole exercise thing. If that’s you, then you need to wake up and smell the coffee! A healthy lifestyle doesn’t guarantee that you will live any longer, but it sure increases the chances. The more you do, the more you’re able to do.
The first step, in my opinion, is to believe that you’re worth taking care of. It’s a rare individual that doesn’t have self-esteem issues of one kind or another. On some level, we all believe we’re not as (fill in the blank) as someone who is doing things we’d like to do but can’t. Or don’t. Or won’t. You’re worth it, and if you don’t agree, then I hope you’ll get some counseling. I did, and will again should the need arise.
Maybe you think I’m somehow different than you are. The underlying message is that I’m better than you–not because I am, but because you think so. Perhaps you’re convinced I have something you lack that has enabled me to turn my life around. If only you had this thing–whatever it is–you could turn your life around, too.
Dear friends, anything I can do, you can do better. Maybe not right away–I didn’t start this journey yesterday so it might take you a while to catch up. My work to increase my activity level began more than a decade ago. Back then, I did well to walk from my house to the main road and back–about a mile round trip. Now I run five and six miles at a time a couple of times a week. If you’d have told me ten years ago that I’d be running at all, I’d have laughed in your face.
To catch me, though, you’re going to need to do something every day. If you’re just starting out, that could be a fifteen minute walk. Whatever it is, keep pushing until you’re getting in a solid hour of exercise at least three times a week and thirty minutes of activity every day. Of course, more is better, and you have to keep doing more to get the same results. Yeah. It sucks. But that’s the way it works, so deal with it.
Failure is part of the process. You’re going to want to give up every day. Some days you will give up, and others you’ll push through. Either way, what really counts is that you’re doing something and that you keep coming back for more. These days, it’s rare for me to give up until I’ve at least tried.
The key to success is to keep trying. You don’t have to be perfect to get results. Consistency is what counts. It’s not a phase. You’re going to be doing this for the rest of your life. So find stuff you enjoy doing and don’t sweat it if you miss a day now and then, or even a week here and there. But when you do miss or have a bad day, the sooner you get back on track, the better.
I worried that my joints weren’t up to the task. When I first started running, my knees bothered me a lot. Now my shins ache for the first mile or two, but my knees haven’t bothered me for months. Running seems to have helped. Same with my elbows, which bothered me–until I started weight lifting. Obviously, if you’ve got something wrong with you and your doctors have said don’t, then don’t. But for everybody else, stop making excuses and do something.
For years I had plenty of excuses. But the bottom line was that I just didn’t want to do the work. Now that I’ve been consistent (more or less) for more than a year, I can’t go without it. Two or three Zumba classes and a good, long run at least twice a week are essential for me now. Otherwise, I feel edgy and tense.
Now that I’m feeling the results of all the strength training I’ve done, I can’t live without it, either. It’s not as pleasant as an hour of Zumba or a nice run, but the fact that I’m putting in the time makes me feel good about myself.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. You don’t have to have the life you’ve got. If you’re unhappy about the person you’ve become, inside or out, do something about it. If you don’t, who will?
Just a little advice from your good friend here at…
My Glass House