The woman was down in the dumps and feeling fairly miserable. She had finally given up on what she called "this old exercise lark". Too many scars from attempting to take regular exercise in the past and failing to keep it up. "I'm back in my toxic cycle. I stopped taking exercise. I've retreated into my comfort zone," she told me.
Feeling guilty meant comfort snacking and lots of processed sugar. She reckoned there was no way out. I didn't agree and told her so. I gave her seven steps to exercise heaven:
1/ When times are tough, remind yourself that no pain comes without a purpose. Move on from what hurt you, but never forget what it taught you. Just because you're struggling doesn't mean you're failing. George Bernard Shaw said: "When I was young, nine out of 10 things I did were failures, so I did 10 times more work." Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there. Good things take time. Stay positive.
2/ Nothing lasts forever. Every time it rains, it also stops. Every time you get hurt, you heal. After darkness there is light. If things are bad now, it won't last. Just because life isn't easy at the moment, doesn't mean you can't laugh. Something bothering you? You can still smile. Every moment gives you a new beginning and a new ending. You get a second chance, every second. Make the best of it.
3/ Complaining is mostly pointless. Those who complain the most, accomplish the least. Most of the time we complain to people who can't do anything to really help. It's always better to attempt something great and fail than to do nothing and succeed. You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.
4/ Your scars are signs of strength. Don't ever be ashamed of the scars from your life. They simply mean that the hurt is over. The wound is closed. You conquered the pain, learnt a lesson, grew stronger and moved on. Change the way you look at your scars and see them as signs of strength and not pain. The poet Rumi declared: "The wound is the place where the light enters you." Or as Leonard Cohen put it: "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."
5/ Every small struggle counts. In life, patience is not about waiting; it's the ability to keep a positive attitude while working hard on your dreams, knowing the work is worth it. This could mean "just doing it". Putting on those running shoes. Going out the door. The struggle is not found on the path. It is the path, where your pain will turn into joy.
6/ Choose to be positive. Be positive when negativity surrounds you. Smile when others try to bring you down. When other people treat you poorly, keep on being you. Don't ever let somebody else's bitterness change the positive person that you are.
7/ Keep going. Don't be afraid to bounce back and get back up. Life is not about falling. It's about how quickly you get back up again. Find the strength to laugh every day and then make others smile. Always look back and see how much you've grown, and be proud of yourself. Create a new 'fit and healthy cycle'. Keep on being you. Keep on growing. Keep on going.
Declan Coyle is a director of Andec Communications. His motivational techniques have been used by several All-Ireland winning teams. firstname.lastname@example.org