Yesterday, my sister told me about a coworker of hers who is so overweight that the weight is really beginning to affect her health. Her health issues have gotten the lady’s attention and she’s ready to make some changes. She has a stationary bike and has committed to ride it for five minutes in the evenings.
Just five minutes.
It’s easy to discount that as “no more than five minutes,” but, if you are or have ever been profoundly overweight, you know that it means “I can make it for five minutes. I can do this.” And that is truly how it starts. I’ve said it before (but I think it bears repeating) that many of us think that we have to start an exercise program going all out. I’ve got to run a marathon within the week, after all, no pain no gain, right?
To begin with, I really did just walk my dogs. I added little accidental exercises throughout the day like parking further from the door or taking my shopping cart all the way back inside the store. Pennies make dollars. Steps make miles and ounces make pounds. The longest journey really does begin with a single step, or, in this case, five minutes on the bike. I am so excited for this lady! She will begin adding minutes before she knows it. She’ll start pushing herself as she sees that it takes longer for her to be out of breath. She’ll celebrate every additional second that she is able to last on the bike.
She’s also beginning to look at her food a different way. After lunch one day, my sister commented to the lady – we’ll call her Willa (like I willa do it) – about her lunch. Willa had eaten a grilled cheese sandwich and french fries. My sister pointed out that while the meal had been filling, there hadn’t been much nutritional substance to it. Willa had fed her body oils and carbohydrates with just the teensiest bit of calcium and protein hidden away in there. They started talking about nutritionally dense options, which makes “dieting”so much easier. At least my sister and I think so, meaning that 100% of Doty girls surveyed agreed – a HUGE margin!
It’s just like when I was a lifeguard. We were taught that after blowing the whistle to get a swimmer’s attention, give them a positive action since they typically hear only the last word you say. For instance, if a kid was running, rather than shouting “don’t run!” I yelled “walk!” The word told them what they could do rather than what they couldn’t. It seemed to work well with the water-logged kiddies and it works just as well with sugar-addicted goddesses.
So, join me in celebrating Willa’s baby steps towards better health and let’s stop focusing on restrictions that make us feel deprived and, instead, focus on freedoms that make us feel more empowered.