Get in the right frame of mind

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2023

It was the summer of 1991 and I hadn’t seen my girlfriend in more than two months.

She was on a summer mission trip to South Dakota, and I had been in Mississippi, trying (not successfully) to get a part-time job that wouldn’t require me to cut off my hair and failing to get one (rather successfully).

I was 20 years old and in pretty good shape physically, but about 15 to 20 pounds overweight. I was determined I was going to lose it before my sweetheart returned … so I waited until just more than a week from her anticipated return date. It’s called planning.

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For one week, I would go out into the driveway and stretch, then set off at a jog along the gradual incline toward the interstate bridge from our house in Chunky. It was just at a mile away. I’d jog it three times back and forth, a total of three miles, then I would do 100 jumping jacks in the driveway. If I felt like it, I’d do as many pushups as I could — a few dozen — and that would be it. This was my “job” for the week.

I ate only fruits and vegetables the entire week, and I repeated my odd workout routine daily. It worked. I dropped 15-16 pounds in that week, and looked and felt better. 

Though I reincorporated other foods into my diet, I maintained exercise daily and was excited to pick up my girlfriend from the airport. I knew she’d be happy for me and glad to see I’d noticeably dropped some pounds.

To cut the story short, she didn’t notice. In fact, I think when I told her that her response was something like, “Oh. OK.”

She wasn’t impressed, but that was alright with me. I knew I’d put in the work and was happy with the results.

It has always been easy for me to gain weight, and for years it was not too difficult to work it off. It just took consistent effort and a proper mental focus. In the last several years, however, the consistent effort has been harder to put in — partly due to the long-term degenerative effects of injuries and arthritis, and partly due to the inability to get into a proper mental focus long enough.

But mental focus is where the work really is. I complimented a friend recently on her phenomenal weight loss efforts. She had lost more than 70 pounds and was obviously healthier. She said the only hard thing about it was getting into the proper frame of mind. I knew exactly what she was talking about.

To be successful at anything, we need a proper frame of mind. And I do mean anything. We have to start with it and keep going with it.

The Apostle Paul, in encouraging believers at Philippi, urged them to concentrate their thinking on “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable,” saying, “If anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things” (4:8).

A proper frame of mind will get us so much closer to where we need and want to be than anything else we do. It’s one reason mental health is so important. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Take care of yourself. If you need help with your mental health, talk to someone. If your mental health is good right now, take steps to maintain it. You’ll be glad you put in the work, and you’ll be happy with the results.

Brett Campbell can be reached at