Believe it or not, it’s an opportunity

A couple of years ago I wrote a column—“Getting a Little Personal”—about activity and exercise being a proven path for dealing with the changes that living a full life gives us. I’ve had so many positive responses to that column—a lady making a career change, a friend going through divorce, someone who had a serious accident, someone who barely dodged a frightening health diagnosis. Because of these, I’m going to revisit the theme.

While we obviously can’t avoid changes, whether they’re positive choices we make or ones thrust upon us, we do have control over how we address them. We all make choices that require new activities, friends, occupations, lifestyles…and we all have choices made for us. Either way, change is opportunity. Whether we initially see the new doors opening or not, they are.

Let’s say you’ve decided to change careers. The change will hopefully be for the best in the long term, but for a while it’s going to be disruptive and maybe a little overwhelming.

For those reading who aren’t feeling positive about your recent changes, remember that patience and the capacity to adapt are essential survival skills. And it’s doubtful this is the last time you’ll need them. None of us control our environment. The new situation, whether you can see it yet or not, has at least a 50/50 chance of offering improvement in some areas of your life.

What we have to do is take what we’ve gathered and learned and move forward. The key word in the previous sentence is move. Moving more is the antidote to the effects of our abundant, plentiful, sedentary, overweight society. And there’s no better time than when in the midst of change.

I’m suggesting, literally, that you move. Go for a walk. Better yet, commit to a daily walk. This is a great time to get all that sugar—which lifts you up and then crashes you down—out of your daily life. Burn it walking. Get your blood pumping a bit, your endorphins flowing and, by definition, (this isn’t theory, this is a physiological fact) you will feel better.

Does this require self discipline? Just about everything of value requires self discipline. But this? Not as much as you may think. Only two minutes a day for a month. Huh? Put on whatever you want to wear to walk, go out your door and walk for one minute, turn around, walk back. Every day for a month. By the end of a month your body will want more and self discipline won’t be an issue. Boredom and pointless activity may be screaming at you but you’ve put self discipline behind you. Self discipline is a lot like a muscle. Exercise it, safely under control, and it becomes stronger. Neglect it, and the by-products of inactivity are much worse.

Think of self discipline as equal parts self motivation (do something, move…) and self denial (don’t drink more alcohol, don’t eat more sugar…). My experience says most people are stronger in one of those halves. Plan accordingly.

If just one person comes up to me next month or a year from now and says my little column helped them through a rough spot, I’ll be the Thankful One. You will benefit if you use change to get you started on a healthier lifestyle. This is the best time to make new priorities. Just take a step.