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But It’s Haaaard!

June 13, 2012

I took one of my nephews to play basketball with me last weekend. After playing 2K on the Xbox for hours on end he figured that basketball in real life would be just as easy. On our way to the court he spoke incessantly about shooting three-pointers and dunking the ball. I tried to convince him that real life isn’t as easy as the video game, but he didn’t listen to me. He was convinced that he was going to step on the court and be an instant star.

Once we got to the court I gave him the ball and let him take a few shots. He proceeded to launch the ball in the direction of the rim. Some were close to the target. One shot sailed over the backboard like Marlon Wayans in Above the Rim. I tried to show him a few fundamentals but he was so excited to be there that he didn’t really absorb everything I said.

Later on, as we were playing one-one-one, he moaned a confession, “Uncle Talib, this is haaaard!”

“Yes” I said, “this is hard,” reminding him of our earlier discussion.

He asked to quit, and I refused. I told him you can’t quit things in life just because they’re hard. I tried to impress upon him that most things in life worth having are rather difficult to obtain.

A couple of days of later I realized that I’m more like my nephew than I realized. As I neared the end of the first full week of my new lifestyle, I lamented not eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. “It’s haaaaard!” I thought to myself. Then I remembered what I had told my nephew. I reminded myself of what I was trying to tell him: yes, it’s hard – but you can do it.

Earlier today I snacked on carrots and natural black bean tortilla chips with salsa and hummus. Before last week I would’ve been snacking on a variation of cookies and a bottle of milk. Change is not easy. Choosing healthy food instead of sweets is not easy. Going to the gym regularly  and exercising productively is not easy. If all these things were easy, we’d see chiseled bodies everywhere instead of complaining about how we look in the mirror (even if we’re just complaining to ourselves). Easy would mean no obesity epidemic, lower incidences of diabetes and heart disease, and more people living happier lives.

How many times do we start an exercise regimen, realize that it’s a lot harder than we thought, and then we quit? How many times do commit to eating healthier but then make exceptions for the cake at a friend’s birthday party, the fried food a loved one cooked, the “just this once” meal based on the moment (you can’t visit Philadelphia without getting a cheese steak, right)?

Commitment to a healthier lifestyle means making a plan and sticking with it, despite the circumstances. It also means giving ourselves permission to be imperfect without beating ourselves up. Just because someone decides to get in shape doesn’t mean they’re going to become a clean eater and a gym rat over night. Change takes time. It’s like my nephew who thought he was going to hit three-pointers like Jeremy Lin when he’s never really learned the game of basketball; we’re not going to be perfect bodybuilders and nutritionists just because we saw a P90X commercial while eating Ho-Hos that made us feel guilty.

Getting in shape is hard for most people. There will be setbacks and stumbles along the way. The key is to get back on track when you fall off, and keep your goal in sight. Don’t let a stumble cause you to fall, and don’t let a fall allow you to stay down. Get back up. Dust yourself off. If you ate that cake last night (or are eating it right now), then savor that moment. And when you’re done savoring, do some calisthenics. If there’s any cake left, throw it out or give it to someone else. Pack your gym bag, check your schedule, and set your alarm to eliminate excuses for missing the gym the next day. If you do miss the gym, fine. Get on the floor and do some calisthenics – push-ups, crunches, etc. Do something. Stay active.

Making a commitment to get in shape – and keeping it – is not easy. But we can do it.


From → Wellness

One Comment
  1. jwayans permalink

    Its funny how God uses the litttle people (youth )in our lives to show us how we are with him. Our own words echo in our ears and resounds in our hearts and minds. We are hard pressed to be hard pressed, choosing instead the path of least resistance. Anything good takes work to gain and maintain. So it all boils down to worth and value. People will pay any price for what they really want. So write the vision, make it plain and keep it before your eyes. Now to take my own advice.

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