Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I have a friend who had major surgery three months ago.
Once she was allowed to get back on her feet her doctor told
her to exercise daily, starting with walking. Told means
instructed, encouraged, advised, and threatened that if she
did not, she might not realize the benefits of the procedure.
She has settled in to a habit of walking a half a mile every
day. I may be biased about how much is enough, because I
am trying to walk 10,000 steps each day (about five miles)
and happy if I do half. How can I be supportive of her and at
the same time get her moving for more than fifteen minutes
at a slow pace? She asks regularly for my praise.


Dear Buddy:

Leave the threats to her doctor. Most people respond better
to encouragement than to chastisement. Tell her how proud
you are of her for starting a regular exercise program. Ask
her if her doctor set any specific goals for her, either in
terms of how long she should walk in both distance and
time. Id she claims ignorance, encourage her to contact him
via phone to ask for goals given how long she has been
post-surgical. The idea of goals is not just, What do I do
today? but also What should I be able to do in two months?
Tell her the semi-true story of a former co-worker (I had
one and I will happily lend her to you for this purpose), who,
upon learning that you were using walking for exercise,
handed you a pile of books and insisted that you read them.


The single most important lesson you remember is this:
Each day do a little more. Walk one minute further or past
two more houses. Every day stretch it a little. If you can get
her do that, and perhaps walk with her on a regular basis,
she’ll meet her doctor’s goals and her own.