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Ester Marsh column: A ‘better’ you

Are you looking for a “better” you?

With the pandemic still going on, we all have had a lot of time to reflect. Sometimes, this involves looking in the mirror and not liking what we see, and I am not just talking about physical appearance.

However, whatever your reflection tells you, it all comes down to taking responsibility for your own actions and future. So what is a better you?

• I believe it is someone who takes care of themselves. How can you take care of others when you put yourself last?

• Believe in yourself! Yes, you can do it. And, yes, you are worth it!

• Health awareness. Don’t exercise because you need to lose 50 pounds — exercise because you want to be healthy. Start with 10 minutes a day. Too many people work out six days a week for about one or two hours a day, and quit after less than a month. After all that, you can barely move your arms, you have a hard time going up and down the stairs and, on top of all that, you gained weight.

• Start slowly — the weight gain and/or inactivity did not happen overnight. The pandemic started more than a year ago and maybe your unhealthy lifestyle started a long time before that. Give your body a chance to get used to movement again.

• Exercise does not have to hurt, especially in the beginning. I always tell my class: “it’s your journey, if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.”

• Find something that you can handle and do not despise. If you truly hate the activity you are doing, you will quit eventually. For example, dancing is exercise. Walking your dog is exercise. Exercise comes in many forms. Just move.

• Live life — even more important with this worldwide pandemic still going on. What do you get out of moaning and talking about how bad you feel, how heavy you are, how little energy you have and how much life sucks?

And if you don’t care about your health, how about caring for your happiness?

“Happiness is not a state to arrive at, but a manner of traveling.” I love this quote by an unknown author.

Everyone has a choice. You have the choice to lay down when life challenges you, and boy has it ever! Or, you can grab these challenges with both hands and stand up to them. Try it — it will make you feel so much better. Even when things do not go your way, don’t give up without a fight. Even battling brain cancer, my dear friend Melissa never gave up. Practice this — greet and smile at every person you see. Even with a mask on, you can see smiling and twinkling eyes. You will be amazed at the response you will get, and how it will turn your day around!

There are some people who are just unhappy about one thing, and there are those who live in the state of unhappiness all the time. It can be pandemic-related, work-related, body image-related or something else, but you are the only one who can do something about it. And yes, there are times (many for some) where it’s out of your hands. My favorite and highly used mini prayer I use is: “God please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, give me the courage to change the things I can, and God please grant me the wisdom to know the difference.”

Are you going to lay down, let the pandemic and work pull you down and not repair important relationships? Are you going to continue to stay inactive, eat more ice cream and feel sorry for yourself? Or, are you going to grab life by the horns? By continuing to try, something might actually happen. Not doing anything or not trying, will get you what you have. You have to make your own happiness. Faith has helped me through some really tough times, especially when things make no sense at all. Just never give up! Start today to a “better you” and the road towards your happiness.

Ester Hoeben Marsh is health and fitness director of the JF Hurley YMCA.

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