I went to the annual convention of the New Mexico Press Association this past weekend, and one workshop featured a young woman who liked to mention “real talk.”

As in, “Okay, you guys—real talk.” It made me wonder what the rest of the things she said were. Fake talk? Anyhoo.

I hope this column is always real talk, but for some reason that phrase has stuck in my head these past few days.

So here’s some real talk:

I have fallen so far off the exercise wagon that I’m literally starting all over again like a beginner. Okay, maybe a beginner with some better ideas of what I can accomplish than I had before, but starting from the ground up yet again.

That is disheartening.

But it’s also real talk. I smoked cigarettes off and on for the past 35 years or so. In order to quit—and this is not just me saying this—it took many, many attempts. It will actually probably take a few more attempts before it’s all said and done. But that doesn’t mean I should give up.

Every season of life has its challenges. Starting in my 20s, I was a stay-at-home mom for 12 years. That was great and I loved it, but don’t ask me where you squeeze in a workout when you’ve got four small children to take care of. The most exercise I got back then was chasing them around and lifting them up. Taking care of myself was not even on my radar.

In my 30s, I became a single parent, and my kids ranged in age from toddler to teens. Less chasing and lifting, but holy moly what a merry-go-round of music lessons, my kids’ social lives, pets, concerts, laundry, sleepovers—taking care of myself was barely on the list. If I’m honest it wasn’t really on the list at all.

In my 40s, I finally started to get half a clue and to realize that I can’t take care of other people if I am working until I crash and burn—then resting for a few days and getting up to do it all over again until I crashed and burned again. But having half a clue doesn’t mean that you act on it much, or well. In that decade I also moved from employment at this newspaper to ownership of it, and that brought a whole new can of work stress worms that had never even occurred to me before.

As I started to creep toward 50, the whole picture became clearer and clearer. Choices I had been making for years were antithetical to my quality of life. I realized I was on the road to heart disease and diabetes, not to mention emphysema. I decided I needed to make big changes.

And I did.

That is, right up until I didn’t.

And that pattern has persisted—the pendulum swinging between getting to the gym and eating good healthy food and slacking my face off and heading for fast food far too often.

I find myself now at another crossroads, having to put in even more hours at this newspaper, with an additional creamy dollop of financial stress on top to make it fun. Starting over one more time.

But that’s real talk, folks. That’s how the world is, and that’s how life is. Things ebb and flow. I have once again gotten to the point where my choices are impinging on my quality of life, and I’m tired of hearing my own excuses. So I’m setting new goals and starting over.

I heard a great piece of advice the other day: Don’t be afraid to fail. I’ve failed at the task of changing from a sedentary to an active lifestyle plenty of times so far, but I’m a stubborn and determined woman. Failures are learning opportunities.

At the press convention, this column won first place in our division, and I met some people who read it, and who reminded me of why I write it. Making healthy choices is not a quick fix, something you can learn in a weekend using five easy bullet points. It is hard, grinding, sometimes disheartening work.

There is no shame in starting over, so here we go again.

I’ll have some exciting news to share in this space next week, and my first plan for getting back into exercise classes is kickboxing. I’ve got a little bit of extra stress to punch and kick out of my system.

Do you find yourself starting over? What are your best strategies in the face of failure to meet your goals? You can reach me at 505-286-1212 or leota@lobo.net, or by finding my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.