Sometimes you have to lose ten pounds. And the quickest way between you today and you a few pounds lighter is a formidable cocktail of vegetables, exercise, and good sleep. Six months after the birth of my second child, I told myself I had to lose ten pounds. I’m a short person and ten pounds makes a big difference on my frame. Plus, I was always worried that at just a little over five feet, it would not take too many pizza pies for things to get out of hand.

Restricting my diet to reasonable choices and smaller portion sizes was depressing but doable. If you don’t eat it, it can’t make you fat, right?

As a mom, getting good sleep was not as doable. Good uninterrupted sleep? Probably not happening. That meant the exercise component was crucial. I needed a fast, cheap and sustainable exercise choice. Running was clearly the most efficient option. Of course, I hated running. Running, itself, was depressing to me. I’m slow. It made my knees hurt. I had no wind and no natural faculty for running. As I said, I’m short, and my stride is pitifully short too. Running, however, does not require a gym membership or special equipment. You don’t need a trainer. It’s not expensive. The time required is minimal – no time expended getting to and from a class. Just thirty minutes, shoes and legs. And motivation.

Now twenty years later, I still run. Every week I consistently put in a dozen miles. My knees, surprisingly, have held on. And somehow, I’ve managed to restart the running habit after every intermittent breakdown in routine that comes with sickness, work, travel or life changes — and despite never growing to even like it.

Here’s My 10-step process for how I did it.

  1. The alarm goes off. I tell myself, I’m not really going to go for a run, I’m just trying to regain consciousness.
  2. I tell myself, I’m not really going to go for a run, I’m just sitting up.
  3. I tell myself, I’m not really going for a run, I’m just putting my feet on the ground.
  4. At this point, I say, I’m not really going to run, I’m just putting on some warm clothes
  5. And by the way, I’m not really going to go for a run, I’m just putting on my shoes.
  6. Etc
  7. Etc
  8. Etc
  9. Of course, I’m not really going for a run, I’m just stepping outside and walking to the mailbox.
  10. Well, I realize, now that I am headed up the driveway, I might as well go for a run.

I know that Tony Robbins says to achieve something you have to take massive action. I know he says that the only thing that will bring change to your life is to raise your standards; that you don’t get what you want to have, you get what you have to have. I believe him.

I also believe that if you have a big challenge, break it up into doable chunks. Even a small goal sometimes needs to be broken up. In my mind, I had to lose those ten pounds. I had to find a way. I started where I could. I started taking micro-actions. Putting on my shoes. Unlocking the door. Closing the door behind me. It still took effort and determination. I didn’t like it.

Twenty years later, those ten pounds have been lost and found over and over. Who cares? Who cares if you or I am thin or fat, or super fit, or just barely logging enough miles to get out from under the unhealthy black cloud of a sedentary life. What matters is standing outside, with the door closed behind you, with your running shoes on and taking a step toward the mailbox.

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