One of the basic principles of the Today’s the Day plan is not trying to overhaul your entire lifestyle all at once, but instead taking what I call “baby steps.”
You may be wondering why “baby steps” are so effective. There are several reasons. First of all, it allows you to settle into something new gradually, which makes it feel “doable.” Secondly it does not trigger fear. The bigger the change, the more fear. The more fear, the more likely you are to avoid making the changes. Third, each time you repeat a “baby step” your brain begins to build new neural pathways making it easier to continue in that new, healthier habit.
In fact, studies show it is much more effective to practice a new behavior briefly each day, rather than spending an hour once a week. Why? Because when you repeat the behavior once or twice a day, your brain commits cells to that new behavior. The key to making baby steps work for you is consistency. It has to be repeated daily and several times daily is even better.
Here are some examples of powerful and effective “baby steps:”
Choose one or two things you want to focus on first, such as replacing diet sodas with water or adding just five or 10 minutes a day of vigorous exercise. Then add a change or two at a time, until you have a routine that your body knows and wants to follow.
1. A Mayo Clinic study found that thin people were more active than heavy people. Healthy-weight individuals took the stairs, parked farther away from the store, paced more while talking on the phone, fidgeted and just moved more during the day than heavy people. The difference was only 350 calories, but over the course of a year, it resulted in a 30 to 40-pound weight loss.
2. Exercising 10 times a day in three-minute intervals or 3 times a day in ten-minute intervals results in the same health benefits as one 30-minute workout. (That eliminates the “I have no time” excuse!)
3. If you can burn at least 350 calories every week, (see #1!) you can naturally reverse symptoms of clinical depression. According to studies, exercise produces effects comparable to effects of prescription medication for clinical depression.
4. Reducing your daily activity and not exercising, even just for a few days, causes changes in your body that are associated with diabetes. Regular exercise acts as a strong preventive mechanism! It may help to consider it “movement” rather than formal exercise.
5. As little as 15 minutes of exercise a day (90 minutes a week) can increase life expectancy by 3 years. You are also 14% less likely to die from all causes!
6. Losing 10% of your body weight can boost HDL (good cholesterol) by 20-30%!
7. Eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day can add up to 14 years to your life.
Have I convinced you? You don’t have to do it all at once – you just have to begin – with “baby steps.”