Last year, I wrote an article called Permission to Get Healthy, and it was about exactly that— me telling you that it’s okay to put your health goals ahead of some of your other commitments and priorities. What authority do I have to give you this permission? None, really. It’s just that sometimes you need to hear from someone else that it’s okay to do that.
This year, I’m renewing that permission, and I’m adding to it. I want you to know that it’s fine to take baby steps toward your health goals, instead of diving head first into a diet or fitness program that might be hard for you to maintain.
You have permission to dip your toe in the water and start small, really small. Cut out bread at dinner, walk home from work once a week or meditate for five minutes a day. Start eating breakfast, cut down on caffeine or complete a workout video once a week. Make an appointment with a therapist, make massages a regular thing or go on a run with a friend once a month.
Be painstakingly realistic in what you’re willing and able to do for your health (or anything else for that matter). Nothing is more demotivating than committing to something and not following through, so decide to make a change that sounds agreeable and easy to achieve and start doing it. Forgive yourself the set backs that probably will come up. They don’t mean you’re failing. They mean you’re living, and it’s not an excuse to stop trying.
Plenty of fitness gurus will tell you that if you really want to get in shape, you have to make it a priority, even if it means waking up at 4:30 AM or squeezing in a workout at 10:00 PM. They’re right, of course. This would show a strong commitment to your goal, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a sustainable plan for a lot of us.
Certainly join that gym, buy the ten class pass to Soul Cycle or invest in the road bike you’ve been eyeing, if you believe you’re set up for success to make it happen. It actually worked for me a year and a half ago. The stars aligned, and I was able to complete five rounds of 21 Day Fix. I dropped fifteen pounds, and I’ve kept off most of it. I promise you, nothing is more energizing than seeing progress toward a goal and nothing is more empowering than actually achieving it, especially for big goals that felt insurmountable at the start. I want this for you, if you’re ready for it.
It’s not easy, though, and, honestly, if I had to start a regimented program like that again today with the goal of dropping that much weight, I wouldn’t be able to keep it up. The days are slipping away, a blur of activity. We’ve been traveling a lot. I was plagued with a sinus infection for a while, both kids have been to the doctor a total of four times in the last week, and I have writing deadlines sneaking up on me every time I turn around. I do what I can, and I make an effort not to apologize or complain about what else I probably should be doing. It’s unnecessary guilt and pressure to put on myself.
That’s the catch in all of this. Go ahead and dip your toe in the water, set an easy health goal, but understand that no one is going to push you into the deep end to get you to your dream. This is all up to you, and getting fit is hard work. That’s why the global fitness industry “generates more than $80 billion in revenue a year.” Be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to do and be realistic about what results you can expect.
Will you get the dramatic changes to your body that you see on infomercials by taking this route? Nope. It’s not likely. However, I bet you’ll notice some changes over time, and you’ll definitely get a boost in confidence by hitting your reasonable, manageable goals.
Maybe your momentum will encourage you to add more challenging targets as you go, or maybe what used to seem like a stretch won’t feel as daunting anymore. You’ll never know until you try, so you have permission to get out there and try.