A Dream, A Goal, A Method

I have a dream.

My dream is to live to see my grandchildren be born, grow up and get married.  I don’t have any grandchildren yet, they are still part of my unknown future.  Still, I know that these unknown, unborn, hypothetical people will be very, very important to me.  And I want to be around to watch them grow up.

My goal, therefore, is to get in shape.  I know that being overweight is not going to help me to live my dream.  I know that good eating habits, exercise, stress reduction, and keeping myself generally in good health will increase my chances of making my dream come true.

A few weeks ago, I went on a retreat.  My pattern, when taking time to think about life, is to make a long list of all the things I want to change.  I usually return from time spent in introspection, examination of conscience, prayer and meditation with an action list a mile long.  Fortunately for me, before this particular retreat, I happened to read a blog post on ZenHabits (one of my daughter’s favorite blogs) that changed the focus of my retreat.

The idea behind the blog post was this: change one and only one habit for six weeks.  What a great idea!  Instead of making a list of ten or twelve changes (mostly destined to fail after an enthusiastic beginning), I would decide on ONE habit to change.  My dream of seeing my grandchildren grow up was uppermost in my mind, so I thought of all the many healthy-living habits from which I could choose.  I settled on two.  I would exercise and I would begin to pack a healthy lunch for work each day.  Surely I could handle changing two habits.  Then, I reread the blog post.  The author is pretty clear about choosing only ONE habit and sticking to that one change for a month or six weeks before moving on to another habit.  I remembered all of my failed attempts at making habit changes and decided to give this a try.  I chose to begin to exercise.

I am very out of shape and I knew that it would be hard to begin an exercise program that I could stick to and make a habit.  So I decided to keep it really simple.  I would get up a little bit earlier than usual and get on the treadmill.  The ZenHabits author wrote about how he changed his life by running for just ten minutes a day.  I knew that even ten minutes of running was way out of reach for me.  I did not have much time or energy, so I decided to start with just five minutes, alternating walking and running.  Within that five minutes, I would run for as long as I could and then walk for the rest of the time.

On Monday, October 31, I woke up at 6:00am, put of exercise clothes, got on the treadmill, and did the following:

Walk 1 minute, run 30 seconds, walk 1 minute, run 30 seconds, walk 2 minutes.

After completing my five minutes, I thought I was going to collapse.  My heart was pounding, my breathing was ragged, and I was sweating like crazy.  But I had done it!  I had set and achieved Day One of my goal.  I was determined to stay with this plan.  I felt great.  All that day, and each day that followed, I was amazed at the difference that just those few minutes of exercise made in my day.

I am happy to say that I have exercised every single morning since October 31.  It has been 18 days now.  I am up to ten minutes on the treadmill, with 3 and a half of those minutes spend running.  I feel much more energetic.  Even though I have never been a morning person, it is easy to wake up.  It is easy to get out of bed.  The exercising, though, is still difficult.  I push myself to do just a little bit more every couple of days.  I give myself pep talks, where I assure myself that I am getting stronger.  It’s hard, but it is becoming a habit.

Sometimes, I think that I should add a second habit, that I should begin to change something else about myself.  I stop myself, though, remembering that the blogger’s advice was to really focus on this change for six weeks before moving on.  I am enjoying the success of incorporating this one change into my life in a permanent way.  I want this to stick.  I want daily exercise to become part of me, part of my routine, part of who I am.  I am keeping my dream in mind and the goal that will help me live out my dream.  I really believe that this method will help me make that dream come true.

 

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13 thoughts on “A Dream, A Goal, A Method

  1. I’ve heard that the program couch-to-5k (coolrunning.com) is really awesome for people who need to start off slowly. It emphasizes slow and steady, even if you feel like you could push harder. I’ve had several friends use it and love it. It uses intervals (like you did) of walking/running instead of pushing yourself to exhaustion or pain.

    And I’ve been running for almost 4 years and I STILL hate it. But I love how I feel afterwards. And I love meeting the little goals I set for myself, either of distance or faster times or days of running. The only way I ever could do it daily was when I set my treadmill up in front of my tv and watched my shows while running/walking. I only allowed myself to watch my favorite show if I was on the treadmill (walking or running, whichever I could manage). It helped me not be so miserable! I could focus on the show instead of hating running. 😀

  2. I felt like I was reading my autobiography of exercise..I too started out very slow and people kept telling me how much I would grow to love it….6 years later and several hours walks a week, I still dont love it..BUT I tell myself everyday that when I weigh myself, have bloodwork done, go to MD, live to be 90, … I will be so glad that I pushed myself! Celebrate each day..you are doing great !!!

    • Hi Becky! Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your comment. I am back on track, starting over and feeling great about exercising every day. Thanks for sharing your success story. Hope you are doing well.

  3. Hello.
    You recognized that you needed to take action. You were sensible with your plans & goals. You were determined and now you are seeing the results of your hard work. Congratulations! It’s all in the mind & how we view things. Keep focused and take it one day at a time. Continued success to you.
    Love this post!
    Thanks for sharing.

    Thoughts Of Beauty In The Stillness Of Dawn

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