Yesterday I hit a bit of a bump in the road on my health journey. It wasn’t even a big bump, but I still want to talk about it. I spent much of the day in Jefferson walking everywhere, because all the places we wanted to go were in reasonable walking distance, and these days I no long feel the need to sit down every twenty feet or so.
A couple of hours after we got home, it was time for me to go to the gym for my regular evening walk—except that I didn’t want to. I wasn’t exhausted. I just didn’t feel like walking some more. I’ve been so good for so long. Maybe I was just tired of always doing the right thing.
But remember, when I started this adventure, I committed to doing whatever it takes for as long as it takes. So I got ready to go, climbed in my car, and drove to the gym.
During the very brief ride, I negotiated with myself. Since I had already walked so much earlier in the day, I should not have to walk the full distance on the track. Half as many laps would be plenty, right?
Then I saw the parking lot was really full, and I just drove right on past. It wouldn’t kill me to miss one night, right? I sometimes do miss a night when I have a schedule conflict. Of course, yesterday there was no conflict.
I got down to the end of the road and turned around. I managed to find a parking space in the gym parking lot so I had no excuse. I walked inside, still arguing with myself about how far I had to walk. I climbed up the stairs, took a deep breath, and set off on my walk. Every single time I came back to the starting point, I told myself, “I could stop now.” But I didn’t.
I kept putting one foot in front of the other, even though I really, really didn’t want to. I don’t know why I had such a hard time yesterday—but it was difficult. I had to call up every ounce of fortitude and perseverance I possess in order to walk the full distance I normally walk.
I knew this day would come—a day when I had a “legitimate” reason for not following through on my commitment, and no motivation either. And I knew how I would have to handle it. No excuses. No whining. Just knuckle down and get through it. I know myself too well to cut myself any slack here. Skipping yesterday would have led to skipping another day soon, and then a couple of days in a row, until exercise wouldn’t even be a habit anymore.
As I walked, I thought of all the parents I’ve seen who rush to help their kids when they experience difficulties. I’ve done it myself—jumped to help a kid accomplish something he could have done on his own with a little more effort. Or what about when a kid gets discouraged and we just let them quit whatever it is, instead of encouraging them to give it another try, to stick it out? How are they going to learn fortitude and perseverance?
There have been times in my past when things were really rough—times when I’ve questioned the likelihood of my survival and whether or not I even wanted to survive. But I was raised to believe that quitting is for sissies. So I didn’t. And because I didn’t quit those times when it really mattered, I had the strength to keep walking yesterday, when it was the last thing on earth I wanted to do.
Maybe it seems silly that I make such a big deal out of keeping my promises to myself, but it’s what’s got me to this point. It’s led to what I consider to be almost unbelievable success in turning my health around. So I’m going to go right on doing it. . . .