Small Steps Lead to Big Gains

“I could never do what you’re doing.”

I gazed across the table at my friend, looking for any signs of sarcasm. But he was serious. He honestly believed I had some kind of special will power or something.

“I don’t agree,” I said. “Anybody can do what I’m doing.”

And it’s true. HB and I have the same will power as anyone else. In other words, not much. Put a quart of ice cream in front of us, and we can’t guarantee its safety.

But pretty much all we’ve done is make small, simple changes a little at a time.

Believe me, at 250+ pounds, I didn’t jump up off the couch and start running 5 miles at a time. I think I covered a total of 6 blocks that first day… and I walked half of them.

But here’s the thing, if you start out walking just one block every day – and add one block a week – in a year, you’re walking 50 blocks a day. And it’ll seem easy.

It was the same with pushups. Long ago, I often started my days with stretches and 4 sets of 25 pushups. But when I vacated the couch just a couple of years ago, I could barely do one.

But I did that one every morning for a week. Then I added another. And another. Now I’m back up to 100 pushups almost every morning. And they seem easier than that one did when I got started again.

Admittedly, I had an extra incentive for changing my diet. But not knowing what was making me sick, I had to test a lot of foods to figure out what was going on. So even that was a “one step at a time” process.

That’s what my friend didn’t understand. People often see only the results, so the process is a mystery. And if they haven’t seen you for a while, the change can seem dramatic.

Losing about 60 pounds in a year may sound dramatic. But that’s only because I can fit the idea into one short sentence. But there’s no drama involved. A year is a long time.

There are about 3,500 calories in a pound. Take in just 500 calories less then you burn in a day, and you’ll lose a pound a week. That’s 52 pounds in a year.

Or cut back 250 calories and burn 250 more every day. The result will be the same. Add anything to those numbers, and you accelerate the process.

In the end, what my friend didn’t understand was just this: When you take it in small steps, getting healthier isn’t so much hard as it is inevitable.

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