UNITED STATES—Nothing has done more to hinder human growth and fulfillment than starting on a new path and asking, “Am I doing it right?” I get why we do it, though. In our school system from the earliest age we’re fed simple questions with two answers: one right, one wrong. And the smart kid spastically raises their hand to the ceiling tiles, somebody else blurts out the answer. And it’s over, the question is answered, everybody’s happy, and it’s about as useful for real life as acing the written driving test without having ever driven a car.
The quick clear answer—in all its useless glory—breeds our clinging to dogma. We seek comfort in knowing one right way to do something. Of course that is a false comfort, and one that makes us ignorant. There are many ways to achieve and maintain fitness over fatness.
In the plan to lighten up 30 pounds in 30 days, I have shared some basic guidelines for weight management, gleaned from my own experience. Since we are not the same people, you are the first arbiter of what can and should work best for you. That said, living the life, even the life of Grady, is more complicated and intriguing than yes/no, right or wrong. When we’re given a new health and fitness path to follow, such as the 30-day plan with all its exercising and eating do’s and don’ts, apprehension may girdle us, this nervous fear. Am I doing it right? Can I eat canned veggies? Are snacks allowed?
It’s like new recipe fear, where you are creating a dish for the first time that calls for a quarter teaspoon of salt and you don’t own a quarter teaspoon measure, and panic sets in, while veteran chefs measure the ingredients by rhythm, it’s in their bones. So if you are seized in the midst of a new exercise or a meal within the 30-day plan by this feeling I must be a fool. My advice to you: first laugh, and keep on being a fool. That foolish feeling is the best symptom you are truly embracing the new and adopting it.
Let me tell you, if there’s one of you who hasn’t lost an ounce of unwanted flesh, but who feels OK and contented in her or his own skin—that person has succeeded wildly. You are OK with yourself as you are and have satisfied the requisite for launching a successful process of personal change.
If one of you are trying to eat fruit for breakfast the first time and have coffee at the same time—that person has succeeded wildly. You have invited fruit into your morning. So what if you didn’t abide by the preference for no beverage with meals!
Likewise, if you have found a sustainable form of pre-breakfast exercise—awesome. I gave you some ideas, but it doesn’t have to duplicate my routine step by step. Your pre-breakfast exercise could be sweeping the sidewalk or delivering fliers for Thai restaurants. Your lungs have opened and you stayed awake. The low-down is moving and breathing deeply for 20 minutes. Breaking a big sweat is not even a symptom of doing it right—to judge by my experience. You want to move and breathe, and keep it light enough that you want to get out of bed in the morning.
Don’t let “Am I doing it right?” be an excuse that sends you back to bed. That’s the main thing. Instead, plod along fearlessly.
You now have the scaffolding of the plan for lifetime fitness. In addition to liking and accepting yourself, life after the strict 30 days, is still scuffled on pre-breakfast exercise and non-eating between meals. And yes, you will be able to restore many favorite foods back into your diet.
Just don’t let fear of doing something wrong grab hold of you and keep you from using your new practices. Any way you do it is right, as long as you are attempting it tenaciously. Let’s shift the question slightly from “Am I doing it right?” to “How can I do it better?” That’s a beautiful question that can lead to a lifetime of growth and constant improvement.
Humorist Grady Miller is the author of “Lighten Up Now: The Grady Diet,” now on Amazon Kindle. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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