This week some people were discouraged with their perceived lack of progress. Others didn’t move much or have healthy food because of perceived “lack of time.”

About 10 years ago, I started to learn how to use a ‘surf ski.’ This is an incredibly tippy watercraft, and in competition in the ocean you must jump in and paddle over 5-foot waves and around a course with turbulent water. Most of the first summer was spent just trying to stay inside the boat in flat water. I called it “the summer of a thousand falls.” This was very discouraging to say the least. Many times, I felt I should just give up; my age, my lack of flexibility and balance…all of these worked against me. At the same time, I would ask myself, “What other options do I have? I don’t want to give up, so I just have to keep trying.”

My point here is that I realize, for most of us, trying to eat well on a daily basis can feel very frustrating. Maybe, like my kayaking, we must deal with a thousand setbacks until things are going well. You must ask yourself: “what other options do I have?” You can quit trying, but at some point, you will want to get healthier and you will have to start again. So, don’t give up. All the people who keep checking in, who keep learning new strategies, who are willing to fail yet still keep trying, are always successful. (Even when weight loss feels “slow,” those who keep pushing forward will ultimately be successful – and usually much more able to maintain their weight loss long-term).

On the second note: Time. We all have time. It cannot be an excuse. Our bodies were meant to move; not to sit in front of a computer all day, or whatever sedentary activity we do – especially during the last 6 months of the Covid-19 pandemic. The busiest people I know seem to find time to fit in 20-40 minutes of walking, cycling, a workout video, jogging or swimming. This can be early morning, right after work, noon hour or later in the evening. It can also be broken up in the day. Even 5 minutes of stretching gives your body some benefit.  Movement is vital to keeping the lymphatic system circulating which is important for immune health; movement also helps dissipate cortisol (the stress hormone); movement also gives our brain a break from whatever task we might be working on.

Stop making time an excuse. Everyone is busy. Force yourself out the door, or simply go to youtube (or and do a short workout or stretch at home. If you have a treadmill or stationary bike, turn on a show or podcast and move for 15 minutes. Pick up that resistance band and do 15 bicep curls. Start small and work your way up to higher intensity. Activity will in fact give you energy, not take it away. Activity decreases cravings, it increases metabolic rate, it strengthens your heart and lungs, and it improves mood. Because of these things, you simply feel better for doing it.

Why is activity so important? Well, beyond all the evidence for reduced heart attack, stroke, diabetes and osteoporosis, it is absolutely necessary for mental health and energy, and also for long-term maintenance of body fat loss.

We have no other option than to “keep trying.” Quitting gets us nowhere. Don’t put unrealistic expectations of a certain number of pounds of weight loss per week. Be happy and proud that you are trying!

By the way, have I conquered the surf ski? Not by a long shot. But I keep practicing and my balance and speed have improved greatly over 10 years. The waves I attempted this summer still had me bouncing out many times, but nowhere near what they did when I first started. I won’t quit. I keep practicing and getting back in the boat.

If you are willing to put in the effort, and not give up, you will succeed.

You can do this!

Dr. Doug