My mother used to tell us “Nothing worth doing is ever easy.” She used that maxim to motivate us to complete our chores and homework and strive to make top grades in our Advanced Placement classes. I remember her whispering it to me at my grandmother’s funeral when my knees went weak and I began to sob while kneeling at the casket and saying my goodbyes. Those six words have served me well over the years; they’ve seen me through heartache, professional challenges and dealing with the loss of friends and relatives. Now, they are my mantra for dealing with a different type of loss—weight loss.
As I continue my efforts to improve my health and fitness levels, I find myself relying heavily on my mother’s favorite maxim. Those six words are incredibly powerful when paired with steely resolve and an abundance of faith. After ten days of making an earnest effort to be mindful of my eating and exercise habits, the scale shows a seven pound weight loss! While seven pounds is only the tip of the iceberg (and the title of a Will Smith film), it is an accomplishment, nonetheless.
The funny thing is, I don’t find myself complaining much about the changes to my diet. There are so many delicious and healthy foods we can eat that it really is not that difficult! The hardest part about making my lifestyle change is rolling out of the bed in the morning to watch The Today Show while completing three miles on my treadmill. It takes a good deal of convincing myself to mount the machine, and the first five minutes brings countless repetitions of my mantra. But then, something happens and my exercise becomes less of a task or torture and morphs into a measure of my strength, my tenacity and my determination.
Where the first mile is marked with thoughts such as: “My left ankle hurts so maybe I’ll just do 1-1.5 miles” or “I really should do something with my hair today beyond a ponytail so I’ll just do 15 minutes…”, I find myself increasing the speed in mile 2 to make up for my lethargy in mile 1. By the time the odometer passes that second mile, you’d have to kill me to get me stop before it reaches mile 3 and my goal—and I’m not going down without a fight. I find that at the end of a good run I am confident and energized; I am proud of every bead of sweat on my body, despite the frantic need to wash it off.
As I get dressed for work and leave the house, striding with a more confident gait, I often reflect upon how many steps I have taken so far today and am reminded of Neil Armstrong’s famous first words on the moon: “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” My three-mile morning run isn’t groundbreaking or earth-shattering and unless I do it naked while singing the National Anthem through Times Square, it won’t garner any media attention. However, at 3.5 pounds weekly, a person could lose 14 pounds monthly or 168 pounds in a year. Those 3.5 pounds weekly can help lower blood pressure, strengthen the heart and elevate the spirit as well as improve mental clarity. Those 3.5 pounds per week will help me look and feel my best on my 40th birthday. While motivating myself to get moving each morning may not be easy, it is most definitely worth doing! Along with the health benefits and increased confidence comes the renewed knowledge that I am worth it. Secure in this knowledge, my goal is in sight and it will likely be a piece of cake—or in my case, a piece of fruit!
Rachel Dachel is a freelance writer and editor, and creator and author of the blog Rachel-y Motivated Incidents. She’s a frequent contributor to the Women at Forty Project.