Baby steps

I find inspiration from people who have the courage to do what it takes to change their circumstance – regardless of how dire things might seem. There are all sorts of inspiring people and stories out there, and I encourage all of my readers to find their own source of inspiration.

Who inspires me is the 600 plus pound man or woman who can no longer walk because his or her weight has made such a simple exercise impossible, but who refuses to give up and starts the quest towards health and fitness with the smallest of baby steps.

I watched a show once where a super obese man was embarking on a journey of weight loss. His disabling weight of more than 700 pounds confined him to his bed all day. In addition to his diet, doctors told him that he needed to move. So he did.

He started with arm exercises. Eventually he could sit, and then stand, and finally he could walk – just a few steps. It took him months to reach that point, but he never gave up. His major accomplishments once he began walking were when he made it to the door of his home and stepped outside for the first time in years, when he walked to the end of his driveway and checked his mail, when he walked a hundred or so feet down his street, and then when he made it around the block for the first time.

When I was a baby, nobody expected me to walk before I could crawl, or run before I could stand. But as an adult, I somehow expect myself to start somewhere in the middle of the progress I think I should make instead of at the beginning. I think it all boils down to impatience. I want the end result now, not later. Face it. We live in a society where instant gratification is the norm. Why else would there be the need for “fast” food, or “on demand” television?

We’re in a hurry to get things done, people. It’s the world we live in.

I truly believe that when it comes to pursuing weight loss as part of a healthier lifestyle, we are all just infants learning to walk. We’ll fall a few times along the way, but we’ll fall less often, and less hard, the slower we take it.

Baby steps.

On Saturday, I took a baby step.

I turned off the television.

Then I took another.

I closed my laptop and put it away.

Then another.

I willingly went outside, despite the fact that the wind chill in northern Maine that day was about -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

My friend Angie and I donned our warmest winter gear, and once we looked like a couple of overzealous Sasquatch in our layers of clothes and outerwear, we headed out to one of our favorite local outdoor destinations – Four Seasons Trails Lodge.

On a side note, having a friend with you when you’re trying to make healthy changes is encouraging and can even be entertaining, as I found out on our little adventure that day. Since it seems to be a day for offering unsolicited advice, I suggest you invite someone with you on your next adventure.

At the lodge, we strapped cross country skis onto our feet and ventured out onto some of the facility’s amazing trails. Now, if you’re fat like me, then you probably already know this, but balance is occasionally an issue when you’re overweight, encumbered by enough clothing to remain toasty warm while climbing Mount Everest, and standing on anything thinner than your own foot.

While Angie and I made our way around the shortest trail at the lodge doing something sort of like skiing, but not quite, we fell – aka “took a break” – several times. Each time, we questioned our decision to attempt the feat on one of the coldest, windiest days of the year thus far. At one point, we could see the lodge across a beautiful field of crystal white, unbroken snow. Knowing we still had about a quarter mile to go around the groomed loop, we had the brilliant idea to take a shortcut across the field. It seemed like a foolproof plan to a couple of exhausted fools.

Here’s what actually happened. We both started into the field and down an incline where our skis sunk into the deceptively deep snow, throwing us off balance and onto our butts where we sat laughing and stuck for about 20 minutes. Eventually, we rethought our situation and with some massive effort, climbed our way out of the waist-deep snow and back to the trail where we completed the loop back to the lodge in three minutes.

The thing about babies learning to walk is that often they are eager to just take off running before they’re quite ready. It seldom bodes well. If only we had known that the so-called shortcut was actually going to be more work in the long run.

The moral of the story?

When you start on your own journey to a healthier lifestyle, take it slow, be prepared to fall, and don’t look for shortcuts.