Today’s posting is specifically for those who’ve allowed their health and physical fitness to fall by the wayside. It’s even for – no, it’s especially for – those who’ve been out of the game for so long that they wouldn’t even know how to start making an attempt to get back in it.
I’ve been there, so I know that exercising regularly and eating nutritious foods appear to be elephantine prospects when they currently have no place in our lives. We see this mountainous, intimidating beast in front of us and feel like it would take more effort than it could possibly be worth to conquer it.
But, do you know how you eat an elephant? You eat it one bite at a time.
In other words, the secret to conquering any seemingly impossible task that lays in front of us is to take action – and do it consistently.
It’s been well said that the secret to getting ahead is getting started. But how do you get started if you don’t even know where to start?
The biggest reason people struggle to know where to start is that they feel like they have to consume the entire elephant in front of them in one single bite. If you’re twenty, fifty, or even a hundred pounds (or more) overweight, determining a plan of action to achieve a healthy body composition can seem absolutely overwhelming.
The thought of losing all of our excess body fat leads to repulsive thoughts of extreme dieting, long hours in the gym, and having to all but cheat on our spouse with the treadmill. Who would want to get started when that’s the future staring them in the face?
The answer: Not me… NOT NO ONE.
But what if getting started simply meant losing a small amount of body fat, one that would put a dent in your overall goal, but would do so in a way that didn’t make you throw up in your mouth just thinking about it?
For most people, this is going to sound like a more enjoyable and realistic plan. Thinking in these terms may even cause you to get a little excited about the idea of improving your life by doing it one small step at a time. Even seemingly small changes can build to have an incredible impact over time.
For example, did you know that if you only committed 15 minutes per day to walking on a treadmill set at 3 mph, on a full incline, that you’d burn around 150 calories every day? Keep in mind that this doesn’t even include the additional calories that would be burned in the hours following the 15 minutes of walking from the metabolic boost it will induce.
And what if you made another small change, such as cutting out just one soda every day? I’ll tell you what: 140 calories or so would be almost effortlessly eliminated from your daily intake.
If you could commit to making these two minor daily adjustments, changing nothing else, you would decrease your net calories by 290 every day. That’s a decrease of more than two thousand net calories each week, or a 105,560 net decrease in calories over the course of a full year.
In terms of body fat, this would result in approximately 30 pounds of fat being eliminated from your body over the course of a year, with very little effort to make it happen. Not bad, huh?
And these are just two easy changes that quickly come to mind. There’s an almost infinite number of small changes you can make that will have a similar or greater effect on your health and/or physical fitness.
The point I don’t want you to miss is this: A few relatively small and non-constricting changes in your daily routine can have a significant impact on your health and physical appearance over time.
Of course, you can always implement additional changes – or more drastic changes – to enhance your results that much more, as you see the impact of your efforts and your motivation grows. In fact, once you gain some momentum and see the results, it will be all but impossible not to desire more.
Still, lasting change of any kind doesn’t take place without consistent action. So I’m imploring you today to commit to making at least one small, positive change, or set of small changes, that will set you on the path of physical improvement.
To get your brainstorming started, here are a few more ideas for you to consider:
- Bring a lunch to work instead of eating out
- Slowly eliminate soda from your diet (This goes for diet soda, too. That stuff will make you sick and fat, son!)
- Start playing a recreational sport
- Do 20 push-ups and 30 sit-ups (or crunches) every morning
- Stop smoking (not exactly a small change, I know, but definitely worth considering)
- Do sprints or hill sprints for 10 minutes, 3 or 4 days per week (sprinting is perhaps the best fat-burning exercise in existence)
- Replace one processed food in your diet with a serving of fruits or vegetables
- Learn to cook a new healthy dish for you or your family (or take a cooking class)
- Purchase (and read) a book that will teach you to make better dietary decisions – I recommend this one
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Stop putting sweeteners and/or creamer in your tea and coffee (yes, this includes dangerous artificial sweeteners, and maybe even stevia)
- Join a fat loss competition (these are great for accountability; just don’t take it to the extreme, because that’s always a bad idea)
- Eliminate 300 calories from your daily diet
- Skip breakfast
- Stop eating after dinner
- Throw away your favorite junk food and stop buying it (You can do it, I promise.)
- When watching television, start doing jumping jacks, push-ups or crunches during commercials (or in between Team Deathmatches for my fellow Call of Duty gamers)
- Join a fitness boot camp with a friend, girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse
- Stretch for 5 minutes every day
There are probably hundreds of additional ideas that could be listed. The bottom line is that you need to think of one or more small things you can do to move you closer toward a fit and healthy you.
Not taking action will only perpetuate the situation further, making it that much more difficult to take action in the future. There’s no need to be intimidated at the thought of what may currently be an immense gap between where you are and where you want to be.
You’re never going to cross that chasm in one leap. Nobody does. You’re going to cross it an inch or two at a time, as you build momentum and begin closing that gap faster and faster, until you’ve reached the other side a completely different person than you were when you started.
Every transformation journey begins with a small and seemingly insignificant first step (just ask Amber, Matthias, Brendan and Wendy). This is your call to do what each of them did and take that all-important first step towards a fitter, healthier you.