I was watching a man sitting by himself at the cafe reading books on self-help and health. It set off a deep emotional trigger and got me thinking. No one else may have noticed it, but sitting by himself, taking notes, assessing his behavior, and faithfully learning and applying the material in those books, he was taking a big step toward changing his life. That’s bravery.

I admired him. I admire everyone who takes that terrifying first step when they know for a fact (because of their negative internal dialogue) that they are going to fail. I’ve been there. I’ve walked into the gym, overweight, alone, no clue as to what I am doing while the snooty little bitch behind the counter makes faces at me. Even after I got into fitness and became a gym rat, I never lost my admiration for the newbie. The size 2 fitness model doesn’t impress me. The person daring to change their habits, suffering through cravings and feelings of worthlessness but getting out there anyway–now that impresses me.

The person who is 5, 10, 30 years older than the average college student but who shows up to class, puts up with the stares and snickering, sacrifices time away from their children–that impresses me. The career change at age 50. The woman who leaves the abusive relationship. The person who decides its okay to be uncool–that bravery.

We put too much stock in admiring the people to whom things come easy. I’ve never had that luxury. I’ve been a human punching bag, I was a single parent going to college, I had to fight my cravings for chocolate cake while battling a score 0f 34% body fat. I know that the first step is the hardest, and requires the most courage.

So to all of you out there contemplating that first step, struggling while you’re changing habits, terrified to try something new, know that I support you 150%. I know its hard, and sometimes you feel like giving up, but don’t. Even if you lapse, and give in to that craving or those negative feelings, know that its okay. It’s a daily battle, but one worth fighting, no matter what your goals. You deserve a full life. Here’s to finding it!