This entry is part of 3 in the series Lessons in Unemployment

During this summer of unemployment, I’ve been redirecting my attention to my health and wellness.

I’ve always been a heavy set person. When I was a kid, my pediatrician told me to my face, in front of my mother, that I was obese. Of course, I was mortified. The word didn’t even sound good.

From a young age, I always stressed about my weight and appearance. But I had a warped sense of what health was. I was focused on not being “obese” instead of being healthy. So I’d kill myself at the track or at the gym and go on crazy workout binges. Sometimes I went as far as to try and starve myself in order to not be classified as obese at my next doctor visit.

I gravitated to the weight racks as a teenager. Throwing large amounts of weight around on my own strength gave me a rush and made me feel powerful. While I didn’t achieve the slim body of my classmates, the circumference of my thighs and arms showed muscle growth, even if the muscle tone was hidden under a layer of fat. I knew I was putting in work.

Fast forward to this summer and I’m walking damn near everywhere I went. I wasn’t walking out of choice. I was walking because I blew through my small savings way too fast and wasn’t willing to spend the $2 on the Metro to ride a mile and a half… so I walked it. Where was I going? Mostly to the library or to the coffee shop to have a quite place to write and mind my business. But I would get up every morning and walk to my destination to sit and write (and desperately fill out job applications… to no avail).

Read that again. Every. Day.

When I got home, my mother promptly told me how skinny I’d gotten. Sure enough, I weighed myself on my mom’s bathroom scale and I had dropped fifteen pounds. I had some muscle tone for once. It slowly dawned on me that it was all the cardio of walking three miles to and from that made the difference.

While lifting weights at the YMCA was a type of cardio, it wasn’t nearly enough to significantly effect my body fat percentage nor was it an everyday thing.

But as I racked my brain to figure out what had made the difference, it finally dawned on me that it was consistency.

Moral of this story: You’re only as good as the work you put in the day before. I could run 20 miles in one week but if the next week, I were to “take it easy,” whatever gains (or loses) I saw the week before would surely disappear.

And this is true with any goal. The progress you make toward your goals is contingent on the work you put in on a daily basis. No one cares what you did once upon a time, prospective employers, investors, etc. care what you’re bringing to the table now. In the same way, my body was responding to the work I had put in the day before, the day after that, and the day after that.

Consistency is key.

Now, I didn’t walk to the library or write¬†every day. Some weekends, I would get invited out or I really would just take a day to lay in bed. I would have my off day and get back to business the next.

It’s much easier to walk three miles a day when you have the city scenery to look at, but I’m determined to stick to being consistent in my fitness and my writing. I use the Nike Run Club app to track my distance and just do laps up and down my street until I get to three miles. Even though I didn’t realize I lost those fifteen pounds, I certainly don’t want to find them again. And now that I know what my variable is, I can control it.

And I am certainly a better writer now than I was at the beginning of the summer. Practice may not make perfect but it does result in excellence and excellence is not necessarily perfect. Excellence is about being the best you that you can be and to do that, you must be consistent.

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