In Praise of STARTING!

Finishing gets a lot of attention, but there is no finish line without a starting one first.

Let’s talk about starting healthy habits. Too often, when people think about making healthy changes to their lifestyle they imagine their health goal – that’s where they want to get. Sometimes that can feel overwhelming, especially if the goal feels very far away from the starting line. A common misconception for people thinking about starting a healthy lifestyle journey is that they must do all or nothing to make any impact on their health, or that they need to focus on their “fitness goal” or “goal weight.” But these are misconceptions! It’s important to remember is that health is a continuum, and being “healthy” can mean something different for everyone and is ever changing for each person’s lifespan. Think of “healthy” as the neutral point on this continuum, meaning absence of disease or signs/symptoms. With only 10% of our genetics accounting for our health and disease risk, lifestyle choices are the most important thing when it comes to managing our own health.

Illness - Wellness Continuum

It may feel to you as if you must interrupt your life and change every aspect of it to be heathy, when in fact those little steps and changes are what make the biggest difference in the long run. We each have a different threshold that we can handle, and everyone is at a different step in their health journey. Think of starting small and building onto it once you become comfortable. For example, you could start by parking in the back of the parking lot at work or the grocery store, this way you will easily get in extra steps. Think of it as a little change, a little step forward. Short-term gratification is the biggest predictor of success; it can help relieve short-term pressures and tension. Thinking back to the “5210” message, Jump IN has tracking document that can help you focus on the small steps. You can find and download it here: “5210 Challenge” to help you track your healthy behaviors all month long. No judgement, expectations or “good and bad” label should stop you from starting your healthy lifestyle journey. And you don’t have to know where you’re going or what your finish line even looks like. You can start for the sake of getting started.

Illustration of two ladders side by side, with close rungs and far rungs - the person climbing the closer rungs has progressed farther.
Sometimes it’s lots of little steps that will take your the farthest.

One example of broad, sustainable success that has come out of a small project we started a few years ago is in our healthy food access work. Jump IN’s ultimate goal is to ensure access to healthy, affordable food for all Indianapolis residents – that’s a big, big challenge. We had to start smaller than that, focusing on the very first steps. Jump IN often recognizes one of our funding partners, the Glick Fund, for having the foresight and faith in our work to invest in the beginning of this effort: our healthy corner store project. Without the Glick Fund, we couldn’t have started the project that has evolved into one of the most important systems-level change work we could have imagined. This project has the potential to impact and improve how we all access healthy food in Indianapolis. It started with healthy corner stores, which you can read all about here, and has evolved to a city-wide food infrastructure for sustainable change. While we still keep our eyes on our ultimate goal – ensuring, for good, that affordable access to healthy food is available to all Indianapolis residents – we couldn’t have gotten anywhere without starting. Thank you, Glick Fund, for investing in our first steps. Look how far we’ve come!

Are you ready to start? Visit here and here for even more tips. See you at the starting line!