It’s not uncommon for us to be so far from our health and fitness goals that we feel like we’ll never get there.
We might even feel at times like we’re headed in the wrong the direction.
For some of us, the solution to problems such as these seems simple.
We just find out what changes we need to make, take action, and start seeing progress with our health.
For most of us, though, it’s not that easy.
First of all, it’s not always clear exactly what we might need to do to change how we look and feel.
After all, there’s so much conflicting information out there.
We’re told to cut down on meat… or to eat nothing but meat.
We need to watch our fat intake… but also cut carbs.
But, then, too much protein will make us age faster… right?
Oh, and then we should get aerobic exercise every day.
We can’t forget to lift weights, though.
Speaking of which, should we lift heavy weight for low repetitions or light weight for more repetitions?
There are myriad strategies promoted to us for looking good and living a long time.
Even if we do think we have a pretty good grasp of what we need to do, actually doing it is a different story.
We feel like our only option is to totally overhaul our lifestyles.
This kind of total transformation is pushed on us nonstop with new challenges, resets, and other “all in” programs popping up all the time.
Some of us love these kinds of things and jump in head first.
Others of us, though, find the idea of putting in all this effort for another failed attempt to be overwhelming.
So we hesitate.
We do everything but take action.
We’re draining our emotional and mental energy without moving any closer to our health and fitness goals.
Only action can do this.
But action is so freaking intimidating.
We’re not powerless, though.
We can overcome these feelings immense resistance and uncertainty is to commit to taking one small step at a time.
Yes, one small step.
It’s not sexy, but it works.
Taking one small step is easier than massive lifestyle overhaul.
We don’t have to learn as much.
We don’t have to change our routine as much.
We’re in a better position to celebrate “wins” and build momentum.
Perhaps more importantly, focusing on small changes makes assessing whether our efforts are actually helping us progress much clearer.
If we change our diet, pick up a new training routine, and quit coffee and alcohol all at once, how do we know which of these changes had the biggest impact?
What if the training program we’d adopted was a step forward, but our diet ended up being more out of alignment with our goals than before?
What it the dietary changes we’d made are point but our new training program sucks?
Which had a bigger impact on the improvement to how we felt – quitting caffeine or quitting alcohol?
What if the changes to your diet and your training were enough such that you didn’t have to quit either one?
This is the problem with massive change.
Unless we’re making clearly positive changes – like moving from a standard western diet and sedentary lifestyle to a less processed, nutrient dense diet with plenty of walking every day – we can’t really be sure which changes we’d made are responsible for our results.
If we change only one thing about our lifestyle, however, while keeping everything else the same, we can easily tell whether the change we made was a step in the right direction or not.
Let’s imagine that we make a change to our eating habits.
Maybe we start to let ourselves get hungry between meals instead of snacking all day.
After all, hunger is a signal, not an alarm.
After a week or so, we start to notice that our clothes start to fit looser.
We decide this is a habit that we want to keep.
After another week or so of making sure that we’ve get this step down, we decide to make another change.
So, we start skipping breakfast and don’t eat until noon.
We notice within a few days that we start to sleep poorly and we’re struggling with intense cravings.
Since we’ve only changed one thing about our routine, taking up fasting, we decide to start eating breakfast again.
We notice that our sleep returns to normal and we’re no longer dealing with cravings.
These are only a couple of examples that illustrate a process we can repeat and refine to dial in every aspect how we eat, train, and live.
Every single step, regardless of its effect, is a step forward.
Even if we make a change that doesn’t move us towards our goals in a physical sense, we’re still making progress.
We’re learning what does and doesn’t work for us.
With all the conflicting – and in many cases, incorrect – information out there, learning what doesn’t work is just as, if not more, important as learning what does.
We no longer have to wonder when we see some blog post or magazine cover talking about some latest trend in health or fitness, or when somebody we know talks about how well something’s worked for them.
Whatever works for somebody else might not work for us, and there’s only one way to find out.
The only way to find out is to try.
We can give something a shot, see how it affects us, and then choose from an informed position whether it’s something we’ll want to do for the long run.
We’ll build confidence, as each step of the way we prove to ourselves that we can take action – even if that action doesn’t move us towards our goals.
We set our standard for success on the action, rather than the outcome, knowing that there will be trial and error involved and we won’t get things right every time.
Not every step we take will be right for us.
Discard it and move on.
Each and every day that we take the step we set out to take, we build confidence, making future steps easier.
Over time, we’ll have made countless adjustments and we’ll have either reached your health and fitness goals or built momentum moving towards them.
Over time, we’ll have proven to ourselves that we’re action takers.
Over time, we’ll have proven to ourselves that we can succeed.
Over time, we’ll have proven to ourselves that we can make and keep promises we make to ourselves.
When we make massive overhaul (if we even act), it’s tough to tell what exactly we actually needed to do to look, feel, and perform better.
Massive overhaul is tempting, and there can even be some benefit to it in terms of learning what our limits are.
It just might not be the best approach for long term change.
Make a commitment today to take one small step.
Set your standard for success at taking action, even if the outcome isn’t what you’d prefer.
Repeat the process until you’ve found the diet, training, and lifestyle habits that align with your unique goals, preferences, and needs.
You won’t be perfect.
You will take missteps.
This will take effort and time.
You’re worth it.
You’ve got this.