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Do NOT Start Jogging
Happy New Year! Christmas is finally over. All the visiting family members have left, all the toys have been unwrapped, all the decorations have been put away (maybe), and all the stocking candy and Christmas pies and homemade goodies have been eaten, mostly by you. As the kids go back to school, you’re suddenly putting a few extra pounds of stress on the struggling office chair. At least if you’re anything like me. So maybe you think now is a good time to finally get into shape, take care of your body a little, like you’ve been meaning to do for years, get back to your college weight. Good for you! People disparage New Year’s Resolutions only because they can’t stick to them, but it was actually right around the new year, if not a specific resolution, when I first started getting fit. So go for it. It won’t cost you anything, and it might change your life. I just have one piece of advice. Whatever you do, do NOT start jogging.
I walk up to the front of my neighborhood and back almost every day, usually around the same time. So I see a lot of the same people walking their dogs or just out for a stroll. I wave and say hello, not knowing their names, but intimately familiar with their faces and furry companions. I’m sure they recognize me and my wife as well. It’s like a club, the Walkers of Reverdy, only its impromptu and anonymous and no one is trying to sell you anything, which is the best kind of club, if you ask me.
Occasionally, I’ll see some poor soul I don’t recognize trundling along the trail, head thrown back, covered in sweat, breathing hard, looking on the verge of collapse but determined to jog on even if it kills them. Maybe it’s an older guy with a few extra pounds and memories of the glory days. Maybe it’s a dad with their teen kid, both trying to start get in shape through the power of peer pressure. Maybe it’s a couple bonding over shared suffering. But they all share one thing: I rarely ever see them twice.
Being healthier, like any habit, is about momentum. You can’t start at a sprint; you’ll hurt yourself and have to stop. You can’t even start at a jog; you’ll be miserable and quit. At first, you have to walk. Literally. Crawling works, too.
If you want to get in shape for the new year, start with a few small things. Take a walk every day. It burns about the same number of calories as jogging over the same distance (it just takes longer), but it’s far more pleasant and enjoyable and easy to continue. Start eating a little better. Don’t go on a crash diet. Instead, stop buying chips and cookies from the store (you can’t eat what you don’t have). Or cut out soda. Or make your tea a little less sweet. Work on building back up your strength. Don’t hit the gym and pile on the plates like you’re still in High School. Start with a little yoga. Or do some pushups and squats at home. Pick up some adjustable weights and start at the lowest setting. You’ll be back to pushing your maximum soon enough, but only if you don’t hurt yourself and don’t quit.
So make that New Year’s Resolution. Get in shape. Lose some weight. Be healthier. We can all use it. Just be smart about it. Plan for the long haul. Focus on building habits rather than seeing instant results. Don’t let me see you huffing and puffing down the sidewalk. You will hate it. You will fail. Please, I’m begging you. Do NOT start jogging.
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