Anyway, a year ago today, while frustrated with my lack of progress on the then-current exercise routine, I got angry enough to yank my manual typewriter out of its case behind the couch, roll in a 3" x 5", and type the following off the top of my head:
The first month will be hell. Early mornings, uncaring stars, frost on the car and ice in the bones. Temptation will call you back to bed and warm oblivion. Fight past the alarm and out into the morning. Exercise six — SIX — times per week, 30–45 minutes each. Eat right. Purse each day with cheer. Revel in success and be humble, forgiving, and wise when course corrections are needed. You wield the most powerful force on the planet — an unfettered human will. Stack successes like the bricks of an immortal monument and meet triumph head on.
I was trying to dedicate myself to more frequent and programmatic exercise. I wanted a daily reminder of my committment to pin next to my bathroom mirror. And, surprisingly, it came to 100 words if you count the date, which would have made the folks at the 100 Words site happy. Though a touch fascist sounding, about what else in life can one afford to be dictatorial other than one's health? Anyway, I thumbtacked it on said bathroom wall and there it hung, aside from visits from guests (I didn't want to frighten them off).
Today, I fought past that alarm and into a cold autumn morning where I could see my breath as I walked to the car. I rode the elliptical trainer for 10 minutes to pump heat into my stiff limbs, then went upstairs to the weight floor. There, I managed to add just a little weight to the squats and bench presses I've been doing. The work I have to do comes outside the gym too, by making smarter decisions about food and sleep. But it all starts with throwing off those sheets and shutting down that alarm . . . and then putting on sneakers and gym clothes and getting the hell over there.
Moral? Write your goals down. No matter how small. Especially if they're small. Meet that small goal, then write another one down and hit that too. You don't yell at a person climbing a thousand stairs for taking them one at a time. You congratulate him or her for making the remaining number smaller. That's what fixing a goal to paper can help you do. It's seeing last workout's weight figures and saying, "Let's see what another 2.5 lb. can do here." It's noting that you consumed the right amount of protein and kept simple carbs well under control by checking the last week's worth of meals.
You'll have no idea how far you've come if you don't leave some traces of the steps you took to get there. Set yourself a little goal and see where your first step leads.