About six weeks ago I allowed myself to take a break, after stressing out over the fact that I had been slacking on my health and fitness goals. And here I sit on another Friday, as the weeks whoosh past like flocks of birds.

I hate starting over. Do you hate starting over? It feels like failure, and I’m not a fan of failure, either.

Full disclosure time: In addition to slacking, I’ve been smoking cigarettes like a mad fiend for months. Today is my third day smoke-free and my lungs are already thanking me.

My strategy over the next few weeks will be to look for inspiration from people I know, and to ease myself back into regular exercise by doing more of those active things that I love to do, like dancing. I’ll return to my roots, tricking myself into moving my body around by doing things that I think are lots of fun. Maybe along the way, I’ll remember how much fun I think weight lifting and kickboxing class are. That’s the plan, anyway.

Local beans, local beef and local red chile.

Some things that I’ve noticed over the past few months: I lost lots of ground in some areas, chiefly strength and endurance. But I also held my ground in terms of dietary restrictions, and I have not gained back weight or inches I’ve already lost. I actually count that as a huge victory, because I don’t want my weight to yo-yo, and I want my dietary changes to be lifelong. What that says to me is that I’m on the right track, however slowly I’m traversing that track.

The basic gist of my slide out of regular exercise is that I allowed stress to get the better of me. Running a business is no joke, and the newspaper industry has its own challenges in the digital age. But instead of turning to exercise for stress relief, I let it fall by the wayside under an avalanche of overwhelm. Not my smartest move.

The whole process of changing from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one has been daunting—to say the least. While a sneaker commercial might advise me to “just do it,” (which in total is really not bad advice), for most of us it’s a bit trickier than that. When I’m so stressed out that smoking cigarettes seems like a good idea, believe me when I tell you exercise is not at the top of my to-do list.

My priorities are to continue with “clean eating,” which for me simply means avoiding processed food as much as I can, and sticking to whole foods, and homemade meals. Most of the time I do a pretty good job at this. I’m a good cook and I enjoy spending time in the kitchen.

Another top priority is to find some way every day to move my body, even if that just means dancing around while I wash the dishes. I need to be intentional about it, and get back into a routine where exercise is a regular part of my life.

That’s it.

So while that seems simple enough, I expect it will continue to challenge me. But I’ve taken a break, and I’m rested and ready for another crack at it. Each time I make the effort, things change incrementally for the better. Baby steps can be frustratingly slow and small, but they are still steps! What I need to do is make sure those steps are heading in the right direction.

Throughout this journey, I have fallen many, many times. I rely on my natural stubbornness and determination to keep on getting back up. I remind myself over and over that I want to be able to play with my grandchildren. I want to be able to climb mountains and stand up on paddle boards in a lake. I want to be able to balance on one foot. I want to live to a ripe old age. So I keep getting up. Break time is over.

Do you struggle with consistency, like I do? What are your best strategies for keeping your health and fitness goals on track? Contact me at 505-286-1212 or leota@lobo.net, or find my Facebook group, “I’m Losing It!” I’d love to hear from you.