Staying the course | Reporter’s Notebook

For years, I used to say I wasn’t ready to make a commitment until I could spell the word. (Oh! don’t judge, we all have those words that regularly give us trouble!) Spell check, of course, has solved the misspelling, even if it hasn’t changed the intent. Truth is, I have been a bit commitment-phobic in my life. It’s not that I can’t commit. I can and I have and, often, with great success. Cigarettes are no longer a part of my life; potato chips, and chocolate, are no longer my go-tos for comfort.

So when I had the bright idea to combine a change I needed to make in my life with facing my fear of commitment, I figured I was halfway there. “Hold me accountable,” I said, and I’ll let you know how I’m doing.

It sounded like a good idea at the time.

The truth is, this last month has been a bit of a kicker. Starting out strong, I haven’t held the course. I’ve slacked off, relaxed my restrictions, and consumed carbs. Walking and swimming have yet to become part of a routine, and I still sit too much.

This is not an unfamiliar place for me. It’s not the first time I’ve embarked on an idea, a project, a desire for change, and quit when I faltered. Disappointed in myself, I throw up my hands and quit.

This time is different. Because I made the brave/crazy decision to make my commitment public, it’s harder to just walk away. And I’m learning a lot – about myself, about my habits. I’m more in touch with how my moods affect my desire for certain foods, and how I feel when I eat lighter, and less.

The initial plan called for starting an eating program that focused on one large meal a day of greens and protein, augmenting that with intermittent fasting and plenty of liquids. Since the program begins with a three-day fast I’ve decided to use an upcoming medical procedure to kick-start that process. My attendance record at the athletic center no longer reads zero visits, and the steps at the office are noticeably easier.

But it may have been the recent article about how staying fit can increase the life span of cancer survivors that nipped at my heels.

A study published in JAMA Oncology noted that cancer survivors who sit eight hours a day are five times more likely to die earlier than those who spend less time sitting. “Compared with cancer survivors who sat for less than four hours a day, cancer survivors who reported sitting for more than eight hours a day and were inactive or not active enough had as much as five times the risk of dying from cancer.”


I know commitment is key to change. That remaining steadfast, staying the course, keeping our eyes on the prize is how change happens; how we shed old tired habits and adopt new ones that invigorate our souls and lighten our steps.

Temporary setbacks won’t derail my commitment. Spring brings renewal and hope, and I have a garden to prepare and plant.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about a poem by Edgar Guest my dear departed mother, Doris Marie Oriole Craig kept close at hand pretty much all her life and was fond of quoting.

“When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,

When the funds are low and the debts are high,

And you want to smile but you have to sigh,

When care is pressing you down a bit –

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.”

This one’s for you, mom.