“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” –Arthur Ashe
Today’s wellness message is all about getting started and building momentum. Many of you have probably heard of Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” One of my favorite habits is that of focusing on the big rocks. Mr. Covey points out that if you start your day with big rocks, those projects & priorities of most importance, the smaller tasks (like laundry, checking email, etc.) will fit in. However, if you start with the little rocks, there’s no room (ie time) for the big rocks. (He literally has people fill a container with little rocks, followed by big rocks & vice versa in his training sessions to get the point across). This is phenomenal advice when it comes to business and many areas of our life. Even better, when it comes to making positive changes in our health, moving these rocks slowly (minimal time commitment) can lead to the greatest benefit.
The name of the game is small, but meaningful steps. As I mentioned in the post “Knowledge is NOT power,” we actually have to do something different if we want to see any positive change. The great news is that not only can we choose something very simple to get on a path toward better health, but those small steps are often better than big steps.
Take me for example: one day it dawned on me that I had zero fruit in my diet. Of course I knew that fruits are part of a healthy, balanced diet. I needed to apply this knowledge (because only applied knowledge is power) & do something different. Knowing that berries are superfoods, I chose to start with blueberries. Now, at the time, I didn’t like the taste of blueberries . . . I mean at all. What I did like were blueberries’ antioxidants, fiber, and free-radical, disease-fighting power. So I added a few blueberries to my daily breakfast, so that no matter what, I would have at least some fruit each day (I guess you could say I made blueberries a big rock :)). I kid you not – for the first few weeks, I had about 6 individual berries each day. Two bites. That’s how I had to start. Guess what?? After several weeks, I started liking blueberries a little more. Not only that, but I got some serious mental satisfaction just knowing that I was putting something so healthy in my body. And so six blueberries turned into 10 . . . and after several more weeks 15 . . . . then 20. Now, I have a full serving of berries each morning. I went from starting with 6 individual berries that I didn’t even like, to being irritated if I can’t have my morning bowl of berries. But here’s the key, this progress was made over months, not days.
I did the same thing with exercise. After playing varsity soccer in college for four years, I boycotted lifting and training hard. As time went on, I began doing some simple home videos, then harder ones. I saw my strength building back up. It felt wonderfully powerful. Well over a year later, I eventually got back in the weight room. Now I can’t go without it. Starting small makes positive change very doable AND the slow, but noticeable progress makes you crave more. The alternative is to struggle through something you don’t enjoy & ultimately won’t stick with. You might have come across the advice to start with 10 minutes of exercise a day if you don’t exercise currently. You might be thinking this is a waste of time with the relatively small amount of calories you can burn in 10 minutes. Here’s the thing: it’s not about the 10 minutes, or the calories. It’s about getting started with something manageable. You’ll be amazed at how that small, positive habit will grow.
So pick something super small & manageable. Anything. Precision Nutrition, (a coaching organization), starts by simply asking clients to take a multi-vitamin on a regular basis. I started with blueberries. Your goal is compliance. It has to be something you’ll stick to. Otherwise, the vicious cycle of eating good/eating bad, lots of exercise/no exercise, weight loss/weight gain will continue on & on. Here’s to meaningful, lasting change!