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Have you ever fallen down and hurt yourself? Did you stay on the ground forever or did you get back up? Unless you were seriously injured you probably struggled back up on your feet. When it comes to developing a healthy lifestyle, it is easy to fall down and never get back up. We say to ourselves, “What’s the use! I’ll never lose this weight. I just can’t get myself to walk 30 minutes a day. I give up.”

These negative thoughts are your greatest barrier to making healthy choices. You can “will” yourself to change your habits. Exercising balanced thoughts will help you get back up when you fall down. Once you are back on your feet, keep your mind focused forward, not backwards.

Eamon Coghlan learned that lesson the hard way. He was an Irish world record holder running in a qualifying heat at the World Indoor Track Championships in Indianapolis on March 6, 1987. With only two and a half laps left, Eamon was tripped. He fell but immediately got back up and with great effort caught up with the other runners. With only 20 yards left and in 3rd place Eamon made a fatal move. He looked over his shoulder. Just at that moment another runner passed Coghlan only one yard before the finish line. He lost 3rd place.

The Bible gives encouragement to keep our minds focused forward. How do you keep looking straight ahead? Set reasonable goals and don’t fall into “all or nothing” thinking. It is difficult to stick with an exercise program. When you miss a day don’t tell yourself, “It’s no use, I’ll never change.” That is a sure way to stay in your recliner chair. Rather, set an attainable goal (I will walk 10 minutes a day this week and 15 minutes a day next week).

Forward Thinking

The Bible says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8, 9). Notice the forward thinking in Paul’s words. Setbacks do not have to stop us from getting back up and going forward. If you missed a day of exercise, say to yourself, “I blew it. But tomorrow, I will try again. I will not give up.” Don’t look back over your shoulder. Persevere to the end.

Another great runner teaches us to never give up—John Akhwari. It was October 20, 1968. The time was 7 p.m. and the place: The Mexico City Olympic Stadium. The event was the great marathon run. Almost all the runners had finished. Some had collapsed and had to be carried off the track.

As spectators were ready to leave sirens went off and police cleared people from the gate. Suddenly, a lone figure came hobbling through the gate into the stadium. The colors on his uniform indicated he was from Tanzania. Akhwari was the last man to finish the race. His leg was bloodied and bandaged from a fall on the course.

You could see great pain on his face as he struggled one last time around the track. Spectators arose and applauded. He was later asked by a reporter, “Why did you bother?” John replied, “My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish it.”

Have you started (or tried to start) a new health habit? Don’t give up! If you fall down, get back up and keep going. And keep your eyes straight ahead, fixed on your health goal. You can make it!

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By Curtis Rittenour. Copyright © 2011 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

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