When Hard Work Works

This week I celebrated a milestone. In February, after enlisting the part of me that loves a good challenge, I decided to use what I learned from swimming in cold water to take on a new goal: Emerge from the pandemic in better health than when I went into lockdown.

I lined up the right support, started tracking my food, learned how to balance protein, carbs, and good fats, and set out on a journey that has left me twenty pounds lighter and feeling good in my body in a way I haven’t felt in years. Maybe decades.

Yesterday, when I stepped on the scale (which has now become a helpful ally), I was excited to see the number match a picture I’d taken earlier last year of the scale set at my intended goal weight. You did it, I told myself, your hard work worked.

What was the hard work?

Embracing a slow, steady process of incremental success instead of constantly jonesing for a quick result.

Focusing on feeding myself well rather than losing weight.

Drinking plenty of water, giving up nighttime snacks, and getting to bed at a decent hour.

Using the support and guidance of wise mentors who held me accountable with patience and love not perfectionism and a big stick.

Choosing to be curious about slip ups rather than shame myself for getting off track and seeing the need to get back on track over and over again (in the beginning) as a normal part of the process.

Saying no to sugar and yes to life.

In 2016, as my father faced serious health issues just before he died, I saw firsthand what happens when we arrive at our elder years in poor physical condition. My Dad was filled with life, had big ideas and strong desires, but his body couldn’t keep up. I hated seeing him like that and when he died, I vowed to live my elder years in a very different way. Now I’m grateful to be headed in that direction.

Years ago, when I traveled with Louise Hay, she often said that at the end of her life, she wanted her vibrancy and gusto fully intact. She used to say, “I intend to live life this way: Happy, healthy. Happy, healthy. Happy healthy. Dead.”

As I age, I value her wisdom in ways I didn’t totally appreciate back then. And today I’m ready to adopt her mantra.





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Cheryl Richardson

Cheryl Richardson is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including, Take Time for Your LifeLife MakeoversStand Up for Your LifeThe Unmistakable Touch of GraceThe Art of Extreme Self Care, You Can Create an Exceptional Life with Louise Hay, and her new book, Waking Up in Winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife.

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