If only I had known.

How many times do we start sentences that way? "If only I had known…."

It's a phrase of a regret, a phrase that excuses us because of our lack of omniscience.

There are certainly valid times for these if only statements. There are plenty of things in life out of our control: other drivers, foreign countries, and water quality in Almyra, Arkansas.

This isn't about those things. While I am fan of a few self-help, inspirational writers, I do not buy into the idea that we can control our entire life. You can't. Sometimes, stuff happens to us that is completely beyond our control. We do have control over our reaction, but not over everything. That's another post.

I'm thinking about the actions we have control over. The other morning, as I was loosening up for my morning workout, I thought about the increased energy I've lately since I've been working out five or six days a week. I thought about how much better I feel having lost 15 pounds so far. The looser fit of my clothes, the ability to run short distances. The lack of knee pain, the increased cardiovascular strength---all of these benefits.

And my first thought was?

"If only I had known I would feel this good, I would have been exercising for the last 10 years!"

Except I did know. I knew the benefits of exercising and eating right, of drinking more water than Coke. How did I know?

1. Expert testimony: I have not seen a doctor in the last 10 years that hasn't told me to drop a few pounds. They've told me to eat a less, exercise a little more, and drink more water. I have had an abundance of expert testimony about the benefits. I've just ignored it.

2. Non-expert testimony: the personal experiences of others! I have friends that have testified to the benefits of exercise and proper diet. They've lost weight, loved life more, and had more energy. They have all told me how much better I would feel with a regular regimen. Yet I didn't listen.

3. Personal observation: I've seen it in the lives of others. Whether in seeing what a trip to boot camp has done for a friend or two or just seeing how people improve their life. But did I copy that? Nope.

4. Personal experience: I've flirted with the exercise idea. I've even dated it, perhaps, but I've never made a commitment to healthier living. I've always wanted to keep seeing double bacon cheeseburgers on the side. I could go for a week or two, but I couldn't make it stick.

5. External demands: there are tasks I've wanted to tackle in life, but have weighed too much or been too out of condition to do them. I've lost out on opportunities because of lack of exercise. I chose to let those things go.

So, I've been without a real excuse. Here are five reasons I did know…

But I chose. I made the decision to take easy way, to not choose what I knew would be better.

What about other decisions in life? To take the job, to get the training, to marry the girl….where do we know better but still choose the worse?

Take action. Make the choice now. Don't blame ignorance when you know better.

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