Health Benefits of Small Change
It is natural to feel better with positive change. Many people feel that change has to be dramatic. I have been guilty, always wanting to be the best at whatever it was. Fortunately, you don’t have to go all or nothing with your health; there are many health benefits to making small changes, and the sooner you start, the sooner you will reap those benefits. Slow and steady wins the race is a true statement. Below are some arguments for why that is.
The practice of making small changes forms a habit. Nathaniel Emmons said, “Habit is the best of servants, or the worst of masters.” Turn the habit into your servant. If you were to begin doing push ups at the same time everyday, starting with one and adding just two per week, you would be doing over 100 in a year. Just adding a good food or removing a bad one per week will put you well on your way to good eating. In my case, sugar in my coffee had become a habit, as had not eating vegetables. I went cold turkey on the coffee sugar, and after one week did not even notice. On the vegetable front, I began taking a little container of spinach or greens with my lunch to work. I ate it first to get it out of the way, and then I rewarded myself with the rest of my lunch. Now, it is just a matter of habit to eat the greens. I will inject more veggies this way to reap more health benefits.
Starting with a small change that is attainable helps to build momentum. Personal finance guru Dave Ramsey is the master of this with his debt snowball. Rather than working on the highest interest items, he advocates starting with the smallest debt. Once that is paid off, go to the next highest debt. The idea is that paying off something and building momentum is greater than working on the biggest most difficult debt first and stopping before the momentum to continue has grown. The same principle can be applied in your life to effect health benefits. We have all heard the trick to park farther from the store to force yourself to walk more. It really works. My goal is 13,699 steps per day, so that I can say I walk 5 million in a year. I am not there yet, but by parking farther away, and some other intentional inefficiencies, I am getting closer.
The Satisfaction of Completion
There is a certain feeling you get when you accomplish something you have been working on. It may be something as simple as completing the crossword puzzle or paying the bills. It is natural to feel good about a mission complete. That same feeling applies to the health benefits of small changes too. If your goal is to lose weight, seeing the results at your monthly weigh-in will surely put a smile on your face. My goal was to lose the blood pressure medicine. Seeing the steady drop in numbers over time was my reward.
Just get started. Lao Tzu’s quote is well worn, but still true. Take that one step and begin your thousand mile journey. Finally, I read Jeff Olson’s The Slight Edge for other reasons, but the guidance given in this book fits perfectly to health benefits also. I love to read and normally do not gush, but if I had proteges, this would be required reading.
Connect through the contact form or on social media if you are curious as to what else I would assign as required reading.