The Incredible Power of Small Fitness

Editors Note: This is a contribution from Jake O’Callaghan of Slow Change and Zenteen.

People tell me they’re excited about developing fitness, but just can’t seem to start. They lace up their shoes but can’t make themselves step out the door. They get into push-up position but can’t force themselves to go down.

They don’t have a problem once they get started, they just have a problem starting. It’s almost as if they are afraid of the “pain” of the workout.

I think all of us, even fitness veterans, have witnessed this problem at some point. For me, it used to be a crippling problem. I would, for instance, start running, but be unable to force myself out the door after a few days. Failing to start prevented me from developing the fitness habit.

But I have found a solution:

Small fitness. That is, doing only a small, easy amount of a fitness activity.

If you feel like you can’t run at all, tell yourself you will just run a block. This is easy enough, so it will get you outside and jogging.

As it turns out, you probably will feel better once you get started. If this is the case, then you can run longer, but if you still don’t feel like running, only run the block. Don’t break your promise to yourself or it won’t work next time.

If you don’t want to eat all that broccoli, try eating a piece or two. Maybe it isn’t so bad, so you will eat more. Or if you still don’t want to eat it, don’t.

Say you usually do 100 push-ups but aren’t feeling motivated today. Try doing 10 or 15 and see how you feel.

Don’t have time for a workout? Make yourself do a few pull-ups (or even 1) every time you enter a room with a bar.

The key to small fitness is two things: doing something, no matter how small, is always better than nothing, and starting small can make  you want to do more.

There will be days when you don’t want to run or workout or eat healthy. If we give in, the habit is broken, but if we use small fitness, we can keep the habit while still moving forward.

This is not to say that you should always implement small fitness. Implement it when you feel like you don’t want to do anything, and when you are first developing a fitness habit. From then on, it’s your call.

From now on, you don’t need to take days off when you don’t feel like doing fitness. You don’t need to break your fitness habits. You just need to utilize the power of small fitness.

Jake O’Callaghan is passionate about teaching and helping people change. Slowchange is his blog on making simple, lasting change. zenteen is a blog he created to help teens simplify and deal with the crazy teenage life.

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