Recently I spent a morning working at my desk and was ready for a break. I had planned a run outside that day, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I had a few options:
- Force myself to run
- Stay inside and keep working
- Walk instead
I love walking, and you can always convince me to take a walk. There is something so pleasant about walking, so I decided that a walk was better than nothing and a good compromise. Plus I really didn’t want to keep working ; ) So, I put on my workout clothes, queued up a podcast, and set out the door.
Guess what happened? About 10 minutes in, I decided I felt like running after all. I ran the rest of the way and ended my workout feeling great.
What happened that day was a typical snowball effect. You start out small with something and as you see or feel results, you gain the momentum and motivation to push harder. I had NO intention of running when I set out, but after 10 minutes of waking up my legs and feeling good about the choice to go outside, the craving to run buzzed in.
Had I just walked, that would have been OK too. Because something is always better than nothing. And you never know when a healthy snowball is going to hit you in the face!
The same thing happened to me when I graduated from college. I started cooking on my own and didn’t have the temptation of midnight quesadillas anymore, and a few pounds melted off of me. I was so excited to see the change that I continued to focus on healthy habits, cooking and exercising. I tell people all the time that when I lost the weight after college it really was fairly effortless because my snowball effect was so strong (and because I had a lot of weight to lose…).
The hard part is packing that first loose snow into something you can see and feel. How do you make those first few good choices that get the ball rolling?
First, you remind yourself that there are CHOICES. You get to decide how you spend your time. Think of the hours in your day like money you can spend, and you are buying yourself a good mood and a healthier body, and investing in a longer, more active life.
Second, the next time your brain says “I’d rather sit on the couch and drink this bottle of wine, thankyouverymuch” tell yourself you only have to do the minimum. A walk. A ten minute YouTube bootcamp. Only 30 minutes at the gym instead of your usual hour. Some days that might be all you can handle and THAT IS OK! But other days getting that first snow packed might push you in the right direction. Sometimes I just need to put on my sports bra and I suddenly get the urge to workout! Know thyself.
And finally, set yourself up for success by making the healthy choice the easy choice. I have always loved reading magazines at the gym and now I am totally hooked on a handful of podcasts. Lately I have been looking at my workouts as “podcast time” more than “exercise time” and I look forward to that podcast so much I forget that I am out of breath or have walked an extra lap around the block so I can finish it up before going inside. Find something that makes you enjoy exercise and start with a sport that supports that joy: trashy TV, reading novels, home magazines, audio books, music, podcasts, chatting with friends.
Pretty soon your snowball will turn into a boss lady snow woman ; )