What if you could travel a year into the future and take a look at the improvements you’ve made through nutrition and fitness? See with your own eyes how 12 months of hard work and dedication has transformed your body and your life?

Then, what if you could send encouragement back in time to your current self? A few words of wisdom to help get you from here to there. What would you say?

Maybe something like this:

Dear Me,

You’re about to begin an amazing journey. You have goals of losing weight and getting in better shape, but the lifestyle changes you are about to make will not only do that, they will also change who you are on the inside, how you think and how you feel. So, congratulations on taking this first step. You will one day look back on this as one of the best decisions of your life.

But be warned: It won’t be an easy journey. There will be many bumps along the way. So, here’s some advice on how to work through the hard times and get to where I am today:

You will want to quit. You will want to give up. You will want to throw in the towel. Don’t do it. Those feelings will pass. You have a second wind within you. And a third wind and forth one too. You are stronger than you know. Remove “quitting” from your list of possible options and you have no choice but to carry on.

You will be tempted to cheat. Cheat on your nutrition plan. Cheat on your fitness routine. Cheat on your commitments to yourself. Resist the temptation. Yes, you would enjoy going on an eating binge or trading a week of workouts for a week of mindless TV. But any pleasure you would get from those “cheats” would be fleeting. That short-term pleasure pales in comparison to the feeling of accomplishment that overcomes you when you stick to your commitments and achieve real progress.

You will doubt yourself. Others will too. You will wonder if you really have what it takes to achieve these goals that you’ve set for yourself. You do. Eliminate doubt by thinking of me (the future you). Visualize where you want to be and do whatever is necessary to get yourself there (here).

You will have bad days. They will pass. Don’t let them have the power to change your course. Get to your destination by taking one step after another after another and doing it day after day after day, whether it’s a bad day, good day or somewhere in between.

You will feel like you’ll never achieve your goals. You will. I (the future you) am proof of that. But, believe it or not, achieving your goals will become less important the closer you get to them. It is said that life is a journey, not a destination. The journey you take over the next 12 months will help define who you are and who you want to be.

The goals you have now are only the beginning. The changes you’re making now are only the beginning. But the beginning is the most important step. It’s the foundation for all that will follow. So, make it a good beginning and enjoy the ride.

Good luck! See you in 12 months.

Frank Shelton is a certified fitness trainer and owner of Frank Shelton Fitness. He can be reached at (302) 463-4000 or frank@franksheltonfitness.com.