Thursday, August 5, 2010

Whatever it takes

A simple piece of paper has changed my life.

The sheet of paper is a contract with my friend Ann. We have been walking every Saturday and Sunday for years, and although we have been diligent about making our walks, our schedules have often caused either one of us cancel. And if I wasn’t walking with Ann, chances are I wouldn’t be walking.

Not anymore: We have a year contract that states we will each walk at least five days a week, for at least 30 minutes a day. We are also giving up one treat one day each week -- for Ann, that's chocolate; for me, sugar, both natural and artificial. And every day, we have to check in with each other to say what we did for exercise. It's all about accountability -- both with each other -- but just as important, with ourselves.

We also left space for a reward at year's end: In my case, it will be a trip to Kripalu in Massachusetts, for a weekend of yoga and meditation. Ann loves pins, and she's already begun to shop for the one that will be her reward.

I admit that signing a contract with a friend might seem a bit weird, but both of us, typical Type A personalities and a tad competitive, have both somehow managed to find at least 30 minutes each day to exercise since we signed and dated our contracts.

For me, that means getting up really early in the morning. In the past, I would always set my alarm, but that can be reset in seconds and I was back in dreamland. Not anymore. If I'm not walking with Ann, then it's with Leslie Sansone's Walk Away the Pounds.

And on the days I take a yoga class -- which is now four -- I still manage to fit in a walk, although the yoga would more than cover the 30-minute requirement. Why? I'm beginning to really love the way exercising early in the day makes me feel. I have more energy, I handle stress so much better, and I am sleeping better at night.

Our contract states we have to exercise five days a week, but unless I am sick, I plan on getting in as much exercise as is possible daily. For the first time in years -- maybe even decades -- I can honestly say I am in control. In the past, I would either go on a diet and not exercise, or exercise and then eat more than my fill of food. The past few weeks, the stars have been in perfect alignment for me.

This is working for me. And to really lose weight AND keep it off, you have to find the road that works for you.

In my case, competition really is a good thing.

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