Change starts small


One key to successful new habits is, “Start small.” Begin with a step so easy you can’t not take it. My goal for March and April is to work into a daily exercise routine. My first effort on Friday was supposed to be 15 minutes of stretching.

I like stretching. I was looking forward to it. I forgot.

I can’s say I completely forgot. I had been busy all morning starting research on a new writing assignment. I remembered exercise as I was rushing out the door to meet a writing buddy. I thought, “I’ll do it when I get home.” Of course, one thing followed another and I never thought of it again until Saturday afternoon as Danny and I headed out the door to see the live opera broadcast from The Met. Live has been like that recently.

I’ve been too busy for a lot of things because I’m launching my life dream freelance writing career. I don’t have as much free time as I used to. I have entered a new life passage where work and pleasure mingle. I love hounding information, interviewing people and writing stories. These changes are all good. I do not aspire to a perfect life; I just want to enjoy my days one at a time, and this is coming true. Who could ask for more?

Well, there is the matter of balance. In the excitement of the moment it is easy to lose sight of looking after ourselves with proper food, exercise, sleep, and social contact. So it was timely that I chose, at the beginning of the year, to focus on better health habits in 2013.

Besides forgetfulness, change inspires all kinds of resistance. That is why starting small helps. You shift gears slightly, make baby steps. Before long you take the new activity for granted. Feeling better about yourself reinforces it.

I have planned 6 changes over the course of the year. These new habits should help keep be down to Earth, if I can remember.

The first one, eating salad every day for lunch, came to fruition in January and February. At first I had doubts. I loved my bacon and egg sandwiches or cheese and jam. Giving them up for healthier lunches seemed such a daunting task. I eased into it, just once a week at first. I tried new and interesting recipes. I started looking forward to salad days. Now, after just two months, nothing comes between me and my midday salad. I love it.

45 minutes of vigorous daily exercise comes next, and I hope to enjoy it. But again I start small. Unfortunately I missed my first assignment for the month: stretching on Friday. My second assignment was a 15-minute walk on Sunday. I often go for random walks, but at this stage I am not seeking a physical challenge as much as a shift in thinking, accepting a new routine.

This time I did not forget. Our friend Ted dropped in for lunch and an afternoon visit. When he left, the long winter afternoon light lay golden along our snowy street and I remembered the date with my boots and coat. I took my camera. It was an enjoyable time. I came back with a healthy ache in my buttocks from scrambling through the snowy woods. It felt good. I look forward to new exercise challenges involving more commitment of time and energy.

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