The hardest thing…

You know what the hardest part about an exercise and weight loss program is?  Getting started.  Or… wait.  No, I think it’s continuing the program after the first week or so, when the thrill of starting has worn off and you’re staring at the long, difficult trail ahead.  Wait, wait.  That’s not right.  The hardest part is when you’ve lost enough weight that you really start to notice, because then you start feeling like you’ve really accomplished something and you start letting yourself cheat because surely it won’t hurt just this one time.  Actually, hang on.  That’s not the hardest part.  The hardest part is when you’re just feeling worn out from the constant discipline of counting calories and exercising and you just want a cheeseburger and fries and a milkshake and a day off.  No, no, that’s not the hardest part either.  The hardest part is…

Well, let’s be honest here.  The hardest part of any diet and exercise program is the part that you’re in right now.  Because things may get physically easier as you get into better shape and lose some of the weight, and they may get psychologically easier because you built up good habits, but it never gets easy.  There are always a million things that can distract you, and a million reasons to slack off ‘just this once’ (which can easily turn into falling off the wagon entirely), and it takes constant effort and attention to keep up the program.

People always seem to forget that.  I certainly do.  Although I remember having to work hard over the last 14 months, I never really think about just how hard it was.  Instead, I look back and see the success, and make the mistake of thinking it was easy then, and get down on myself for not having it as ‘easy’ now.  I forget that it took time and effort, and that I struggled constantly, and that I got demoralized and discouraged.  And that makes it easy to look at my current struggles and discouragement, and think that it’s different.  That somehow, because it was clearly easy back then and it isn’t now, something’s gone wrong and I’m failing.

I’m here to tell you that this is not true.  Not for me, and not for you.  Failure only happens when you quit.  Did you gain a couple of pounds?  Did you forget to do your exercises for the last two weeks?  Did you deliberately eat a thousand calories worth of cookies and ice cream?  (No, no, that’s not me judging you – that’s all things I’ve done.  Recently.)  None of that means you’ve failed.  None of that means that I’ve failed.  It just means that you (or I) are human.  We struggle.  We backslide.  But we don’t have to give up, just because of that.  We can stand up, dust the cookie crumbs off our shirts, lace up our shoes, and go for a walk.

Don’t give up!  That’s the secret.  Don’t give up.  It gets… well, no.  It doesn’t actually get easier, because you’ll probably push yourself harder as you start to succeed.  But it certainly feels good when you stop and realize that things seem hard right now because you’re pushing yourself to do far more than you ever could before.  And when you realize that?

Well.  You’ll feel a whole lot better.  About everything.

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