Start Small, Think Big

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As I wrapped up our first 6-Week Session of Intro to Fitness classes last month I wanted to talk about something I spent time discussing during our class that I think everyone can benefit from. Mindset.

The hardest thing to do with anything in life is to get started. Most of the time when you are planning to make a change in your life it’s one of two things: 1. Something you have never done before or 2. Something you haven’t done in a long time.

At first making a change can be intimidating, nerve-wracking, and frustrating. But, with persistence and the right mindset it can be rewarding, exciting, and become something you take a lot of pride in.

The biggest mistake I see most people make when it comes to making a change in their health and fitness (Performance) is that they make a drastic change overnight and it is not sustainable in the long term.

For example, most people have tried to return to exercise after an extended period of time away from an active lifestyle and joined a gym or fitness class. They come into the gym ready to rock and roll (maybe even with a fresh pair of workout shoes to boot), today is the day they are going to take control. An hour passes and they are drenched in sweat and they feel like they are on the fast-track to returning to their glory days of physical activity… Then they wake up the next morning and are so stiff and sore that getting dressed for work is a chore. Getting in and out of the desk at work is a struggle, not to mention sitting on the toilet… you get the picture.

After normal daily activities have been such a struggle they decide to skip the gym (I would too if I was that sore). Within a couple days they return to the gym and try it again, the process repeats, and eventually with those experiences and a hectic schedule the gym or fitness class becomes a thing of the past.

Or maybe it’s a diet. Most people have experimented with one or multiple different dieting options. Diets can and probably have driven you crazy at some point in time. Some can be very successful in the short-term. The problem with most diets is that once you have reached your weight loss goal or after the event you want to be looking your best at (wedding, child’s graduation, class reunion etc.) has passed the diet goes out the window and over time we have returned to old eating habits and are back to the weight we started at.

When changes are made with regard to policy within an organization, the progression is made gradually, not just overnight.  Making changes with your health and Performance should not be any different.

There needs to be a gradual transition into making a sustainable change.

A business that is changing how it does something doesn’t just do it overnight. There is a planned transition from “the old way” to the “new way”. Imagine the company you work for completely changing computer software overnight without any warning or training. Imagine how much stress and chaos that would create in your workplace. Now imagine putting yourself through a rigorous 60 minutes of exercise after you have spent a long time away from physical activity. Imagine how much stress and chaos that causes to your body.

Your health and Performance is lifelong not just 6-Weeks at a time. You have to start small and think big. Starting small can be as simple as walking around the block with your significant other after a meal. Starting small is as simple as choosing the grilled vegetables over the French fries or even one scoop of ice cream instead of two. Every change you make is specific to you and your current health and Performance.

Improving just a little bit each day makes a huge difference over time.

There are going to be good days and bad days. DON’T GET DISCOURAGED. The key to getting over the hump is to progress to the point where you are stringing more good days together than bad days.

Win the day to win the week. Win the week to win the month. Win the month to win the year.

Making a change doesn’t happen over night.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Apple started as an idea before it changed the music industry.

Michael Jordan had to make his high school team before becoming the greatest basketball player of all time.

J.K. Rowling learned to write her name before she wrote Harry Potter.

Usain Bolt learned to walk before he became the fastest man in the world.

Michael Phelps had to tread water before he became the most decorated Olympic swimmer of all-time.

You have to lay the foundation of a home before you build the roof.

You have to be able to sit before you can stand.

You have to lose ½ pound before you lose 20 pounds.

You have to run a mile before you run a marathon.

You have to lift the bar before you lift 500 pounds.

You need to get the ball before you score a touchdown.

Your life and your Performance is a marathon, not a sprint.

Walk before you run.

Start small, Think big.

Britt Wickett PT, DPT, CSCS