Commit to the effort

A few weeks ago I went to a family wedding and got into a conversation with one of my cousins, Mike, who is the director of a local YMCA.  He was sharing with me how their membership numbers go up and down depending on the time of year and we were talking about strategies to get people to commit to more regular exercise. He shared with me that while there are plenty of people who go to his Y very faithfully and exercise several times a week, there are plenty more who just show up to socialize with other members, or even worse, join and pay dues but never come back.
We came to a similar conclusion my friend Lynsey and I have come to very often, and it’s this: Sometimes the very fact that someone has joined a gym, hired a personal trainer, signed on with a health coach, bought a diet book, etc. is enough to assuage the guilt of not working out or eating right.  It’s the appearance of having a healthier lifestyle, and having all the accoutrements that go along with it that is enough to make someone think that he is doing all the right things.  I have a health coach/trainer/YMCA membership/read XYZ diet book/have an elliptical in my house/bought sassy workout clothes, so I must be healthy!
Of course in actuality it is what you DO with these things that really matters in the grand scope of health and wellness.
It got me thinking about work and effort and out of nowhere my dad sent me the quote I posted above.  Effort is only effort when it begins to hurt.  Now, by “hurt” I’m not talking about physical pain or agony.  But think about a time when you really feel like you expended effort on something – exercise or not.  It probably wasn’t easy.  It probably wasn’t pleasurable.  It probably wasn’t a party laugh a minute.  It got you out of your comfort zone, doing something you’ve never done before.  Perhaps you even broke a sweat.  It’s at that point, that very moment when a task went from being easy and fun to challenging and maybe even difficult, that’s the “hurt”.  Not pain, but friction, challenge, difficulty, hardship, work, exertion, effort, labor.  These are the very things that lead to improvement, accomplishment, triumph, victory, achievement, success, advancement, and growth.
The key though, is putting in the effort.
As we’re coming upon the most famous time of year for starting anew and refreshing our commitment to health, I just wanted to put out there that it’s the effort that matters, and the work that will lead to your goals being achieved.  The commitment to get healthier and joining the gym or hiring the trainer is just the first step and walking the walk is what will get you to the finish line.


  1. Diane Dennis
    December 20, 2011 5:41 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more! Having been in this very position, I would like to add that the first step to putting forth effort is a having a clear and specific goal – not just “I want to be healthy” or “I want to lose weight”. Pledge to reduce your blood pressure to a non-medicated level or work toward a specific athletic goal such as running a 10K or a weightlifting competition. Then make a plan and work toward your goal with effort. It is so true that just joining a gym or buying a book is useless with out a goal, a plan and the requisite effort!!

    • Jill
      December 20, 2011 10:51 pm

      Excellent points, Diane. Having something concrete to work towards can be immensely helpful especially when starting out. This could be fodder for a future post…….

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