Betsy and I are currently on a complete digital sabbatical while we walk the 509km (300 miles) of the Lycian Way. While we push ourselves physically, we’ve invited some inspirational guests to share their wisdom and actions to add more freedom to your life. Today, we’re delighted to share this guest post from Kim Dinan of So Many Places to give you encouragement and actions to take the steps towards a healthier you. Take it away, Kim.
I got fed up with feeling bad. So I committed to losing weight and becoming a healthier person.
I knew that there were many things that I would have to take on over time in order to be a healthy person. But I also knew that in order to become a healthy person I had to take it one step at a time. I knew that if I tried to tackle all of the steps at once (exercise, eating well, quitting smoking) that I would fail, but that if I just concentrated on the first step the journey would be more manageable.
The first step for me was joining the gym. I went every day, even on the days that I did not want to go. I was the unhealthiest person at the gym! I was so embarrassed in my spandex shorts, but I did not let my embarrassment stop me. I knew I was in the place I needed to be.
After a certain amount of time I actually enjoyed the gym. I was feeling better every day, slowly losing weight, and my fitness was increasing by leaps and bounds. I was still smoking and I was still eating poorly. But what I found was that as I became more fit by going to the gym, and I began feeling better overall, I wanted to eat better.
So I began focusing on my diet, making simple changes, choosing foods that made me feel healthy when I ate them. And as my fitness continued to improve and my diet began to improve, I started looking like a new person. I barely recognized my body in the mirror. I was beginning to be the kind of healthy person I knew I could be. But I knew that it was time to face a hard truth: That even though I was exercising and eating well, I could never consider myself a healthy person if I was smoking.
So I stopped smoking. It was not easy. But by this time I had confidence that I was able to do things that weren’t easy. After all, I’d carried my butt to the gym every day these past five months, hadn’t I? I’d stuck to a commitment I’d made to myself. I was transforming myself physically. I had the power to stop smoking too.
Eventually I lost 80 pounds and became a marathon runner. I’d never have anticipated that I would have started running but one day I said to myself, “It’s a nice day, Kim. Why not go outside and try running?” It was hard and terrible but when it was over I felt great. I became a runner.
Running led me to have an even greater belief in myself and in what I was able to do. It was during a trail run, one day while deep in the forest, that I stopped and finally admitted to myself the biggest truth of all: I wasn’t happy with my career. I wanted to follow my calling. I wanted to travel the world and I wanted to write.
And because I knew that I was able to difficult things, I decided to put the wheels in motion. Why not follow my biggest dreams?
Three years later, in May of 2012, my husband and I sold all of our possessions, left our jobs, and set out into the world to travel and work as digital nomads. We’re still going strong today.
I am not sure how it would have all turned out if I had not dragged my butt to the gym all of those years ago. Improving my health gave me the confidence to follow my dreams. In those early years at the gym, I learned that I would show up for myself, work hard, and uphold the promises I make to myself. Those lessons have served me well.
Small steps that have a big impact
Big dreams are accomplished with a series of small steps. Here are a few lessons I learned while improving my health that have helped me accomplish my dreams:
Step 1: Walk the hills
Most long-distance trail runners live by the motto, “walk the hills.” Trail running is challenging and a lot of energy is expended running up hills. By walking the hills, the runner saves the energy that’s needed to keep moving as the miles tick away. When things get challenging, walk the hills if you have to, just don’t quit.
Step 2: Keep the promises you make to yourself
In order to accomplish any big goal you must become the kind of person that follows through with things. This is so important! If you tell yourself that you will go to the gym on Tuesday then go to the gym on Tuesday. If you tell yourself you will have a salad for dinner, have a salad for dinner. Don’t let the commitments you make to yourself be broken. You need to know that you are the kind of person that does what you say you will do.
Step 3: Take it step-by-step
If I had declared that all of a sudden I was going to go to the gym every day, eat a 1,800-calorie all-natural diet, and never smoke a cigarette again, I wouldn’t have lasted the day. But because I took a big goal and broke it down into manageable parts, I was able to achieve my goal step-by-step.
Author bio: Kim Dinan is a writer and traveler whose blog, So Many Places, chronicles her adventures around the world. Her new book, Life On Fire: A Step-By-Step Guide To Living Your Dreams will teach you what to expect on the path to your biggest goals.