Sometimes the antidote to a dark day is a white pill. And no, I don’t mean Xanax but “being a fountain, not a drain,” as the saying goes. Finding a bright spot, a break in the clouds, a spiritual salve to like, love, and rub all over ourselves.

For all its blessings, fitness has two faces. It isn’t always angel farts and chocolate coins. Sometimes your alarm goes off and doing a workout sounds about as appealing as exposing yourself at JC Penney’s. And then feels like you’re trying to walk a feral 220-pound dog. Sometimes you look at your plate and suddenly you’d rather drink a bucket of warm spit than stick to your diet for another day. These things happen. They’re unavoidable, like the wrinkles of aging

There are consolation prizes too, though, and many are shinier than you might think. They’re silver lanes, not linings, and they make the juice well worth the squeeze.

  1. People who say fitness “doesn’t get easier; you only get better” are wrong. It takes far less attention and effort to stay fit (and look it) than it takes to get fit in the first place.
  2. Much of the weight people gain during the holidays isn’t fat but extra a) water and glycogen (due to sodium and carb orgies that dramatically increase water retention) and b) stool weight (whatever goes in takes 24-to-72 hours to worm its way out).
  3. There are no “fattening” foods or macronutrients. If someone insists otherwise, challenge them to eat nothing but 700 calories of their favorite bugbear for seven days straight and see what happens.
  4. You don’t have to hit a PR to have a fitness win. Sometimes it’s just going for a walk. Or doing some push-ups. Or just not eating the whole pizza or box of cookies. Huzzah! Keep it up.
  5. You couldn’t gain more than a pound or two of fat in an entire day of relentless feasting and imbibing, so don’t fret over the occasional “cheat meal” gone awry. Even your worst won’t visibly disturb your body composition, so just shrug it off and jog on.
  6. In fitness, you don’t have to get it right the first time. Or the second. You have as many chances to lose fat and build muscle as you’d like. And guess what? It’s also okay to quit a program too. Just don’t quit all of them.
  7. Calories always count, but that doesn’t mean you have to count them. Calorie counting is just one way to calibrate your eating to your goals, not the only way. And it’s okay if it’s not your way.
  8. Training just once or twice per week is far better than training zero times per week, and moderate but consistent training beats out intense but sporadic training in every way. So take your time if you need to.
  9. Something to remember when scrolling: People who are always super-fit don’t have special knowledge or methods. They’ve simply made their physique a top priority, and often because it makes them money, they view training as a form of therapy, and they don’t have kids.
  10. Fitness isn’t just for people who mostly want to change their body composition. Or to burn calories. Or to get stronger. It’s also for people who want to relieve stress or have fun or get healthier or move more or simply feel good.