Today my 89-year-old next-door neighbor, Polly, revealed the mystery of her early morning comings and goings. She walks Sandy Beach. A mile and a half. Back and forth. Every day. Unless the weather is really good. On those days, she wiggles into a wet suit and swims in Little Harbor.

She is straight and trim, a Yankee spirit who composts and kayaks. On the other hand, Ive been preparing to get in shape every day since early May. The Reconquista of my life. The new fit and fantastic me! I bought a package of new socks, (the internet said Best Socks Ever!) And snazzy red sneakers. A new bike (very lightweight and jaunty-looking). I even sprung for new semi-jiggle proof under-layers for the expected exertion. (Buying a sports bra is humiliation in a see-through pack).

Conventional behavioral wisdom is that it takes six uninterrupted weeks to inculcate a new habit. Also, that most people are successful with early morning exercise routines. Easy as pie. Ive got 12 weeks to work with and good track record for professional discipline.

I saw myself getting up first thing every day. (Okay, 7:30, not-so-first-thing.) Id don the appropriate athletic ensemble for my chosen activity, (Yoga, brisk walk, bike ride), and plug in my earbuds to a news-y podcast. Off I would go, healthy and virtuous. Magically two sizes smaller just by the thought. The thought is father to the deed! Right? Not so right actually. Id have to break my compulsive need to start each morning gorging on headlines, clucking over excellent Op-Eds, and checking my email over a crucial first cup of coffee. None of those hardy souls start without coffee, do they?

I live in a beautiful spot, in this beautiful town, a town that seems to invite healthy outdoors activity with an engraved invitation. One of the first things I noticed here is the number of women wearing leggings and tank tops who look so terrific that you never notice they are wearing their underwear in public. So fit. So tall. So thin. So not me.

For a few weeks in the early Spring, there were rainy days that gave me iron-clad excuses to defer until the weather changed. Still, Id walk or drive down the byways and salute the women jogging with their baby strollers, the men in bicycle spandex, the pairs of women lost in conversation but keeping a brisk not-breathless pace. Hullo! I thought. Im actually one of you! See you tomorrow! I stood straighter and even felt my muscles tingling.

Then came June. Well, I was really really busy with work in June and couldnt afford an extra hour in the morning to gad about. Then came July. God knows July was busy! A huge family reunion chez nous, and then the encampment of the grandchildren and all the visiting family and friends small kids attract like honeysuckle. And who ever got up in the morning and left an adorable gaggle who want breakfast and stories?

It got to be late August. My red sneakers were still in the box. My bike needed some WD-40 love from being parked unused on the deck all summer in a state of instant readiness. The lets-go-visit Louisa hordes thinned, and the humidity lifted. This should be my moment.

Labor Day could mean a new beginning, my own personal ready-set-go for my fitness makeover. Yeah, and nothing. A few walks on the beach, a walk or two to the beach. I carefully folded the clothes heretofore draped over the stationary bike in the bedroom thinking Id waive the first-thing-in-the-morning-exercise restriction. Still nothing. And then, I ran out to the driveway and bumped into Polly, vigorous and cheery from her morning walk.

Anyone need a pair of size 8-1/2 red sneakers?

Louisa Kasdon divides her life between Cambridge and Cohasset, and wakes up every morning seeking to find the perfect balance between the two. Louisa is the author of over 500 published articles and columns on food, health, and business, and is the CEO and founder of Lets Talk About Food, an organization dedicated to public education and dialogue about our food system. Please write to her at