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On February 3rd, 2003, I sat on the toilet reading Readers Digest, as one does, and decided to change my life.

I didn’t wake up that morning knowing that the day would be important. For that matter, I still didn’t realize it the next day. But, eleven years later, I know that what I began that day set off a series of events that changed my life entirely. I can’t imagine what it would be like otherwise.

The article I was reading was about dieting and changing one thing at a time. It recommended a simple strategy: start small, and make incremental adjustments to your eating and exercise habits as you go. As an example of this approach, it suggested trying to drink more water, while still eating as you normally would, for one week.

You can only connect the dots going backwards, and I sure didn’t know what was in store for me at the time, but I decided then and there to try. Looking back, I see that it was probably because I had weighed myself the day before, and the scale had said 300 pounds – a milestone kind of number. Because, even on that day, I had the space in my life to hope for a change. Because drinking water seemed doable, and because I didn’t have too much to lose if I failed. Because I didn’t even have to tell anyone what I was doing.

When I weighed in a week later, the scale said 296. I remember standing on the scale, shocked that my private strategy had actually worked. I felt momentum, I felt possibility, I felt a new identity (or maybe a forgotten one) peeking out into the world. The next week, I tried to eat a healthier breakfast, and then a healthier lunch the week after that, and so on . . . until here I am, over a decade later, maintaining a weight loss of over 150 pounds. 

While this is the story of a beginning, that’s not why I tell it. I tell it because it’s a story that never ends; its memory serves me every day as I make dozens (hundreds, thousands) of decisions to be healthy. No matter where you are on this path, there are choices to make. We are always, ever, only one choice away from making our life what we want it to be.

As I continue to try to focus on wellness – and especially when I fail to do so – I remember that each moment has the potential to be a beginning, just like the one I experienced in 2003. It keeps me living like a healthy person. And that, in itself, is the goal. 

Beck Tench was formally trained as a designer and journalist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication and has spent her career since helping people in organizations of all types to embrace risk-taking, creativity, and change. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, National Public Radio, Scientific American, Quantified Self, Independent Weekly and several books and blogs. She is the creator of Experimonth, a change-making platform that encourages participants to try something new and be honest with each other about what happens. Beck believes that small things add up to big things over time and travels the world sharing that message to universities, corporations, conferences, and non-profits in keynote addresses, workshops and facilitated discussions. She also serves a limited number of clients as a creative coach and occasionally joins organizations for time-limited residencies. Beck is also a member of her local library board. read more about
  • Ruby S.

    Way to go, Beck! I just lost 25 pounds and I never thought I could do it. Working on about 10 more to bring my BMI into “normal” range.

    • CurvyGirlHealth

      Congrats Ruby! Keep going! Feel free to share tips with the rest of us!

  • http://fatcrossfitter.tumblr.com/ Fat CrossFitter

    “…each moment has the potential to be a beginning…” That’s going on a sticky note on my wall.