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One Foot at a Time

Twelve months ago, I was talking with a friend who was lamenting the almost immediate demise of her New Year’s resolutions regarding diet and exercise.  “Only 1/12th into the year and I blew it,” she complained.  After hearing her resolutions, it was no wonder she was disappointed. She had done a tremendously successful job of setting herself up for disaster.  From being sedentary for a number of years with a personal diet program designed by the Cookie Monster, she wanted to transform herself overnight.

After purchasing a new gym membership and a commercial diet package in December, she had not taken step one into either program and was despondent over her self-described personal failure. I asked her how she responded to her own children’s frustration when learning new habits.  She said (as I knew she would), “I tell them to relax and take it one step at a time.  Any new skill looks hard when you are first starting out…”  Hmmm.  Mother, heal thyself.  With my nudging, she started to take progressively longer walks around her own neighborhood, increasing the distance as she felt comfortable. 

After a few months of feeling better about how long she was walking, she was no longer inclined to respond when the Cookie Monster called out her name. 

By last spring, she was going to the gym twice a week and calling me regularly to berate me over my own sedentary habits.  I hadn’t seen her in a while and last week, I bumped into her at a dinner party. She had lost many pounds and looked as healthy as I had ever seen her.  Her plate was filled with vegetables (as opposed to the fried assortment I had on my own platter).  I was happily surprised at how much she had accomplished in one year and asked her how she achieved such a tremendous makeover.

“Easy,” she said. “I didn’t worry about anything but taking the next step in front of me.”  A caregiving lesson if I have ever heard one.


Gary Barg

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