At the start of the week, I challenged the Optimal Health community to add 10 push-ups to their current workout routine.
It didn’t matter how you added them. You could do 5 in the morning and 5 in the evening, or even one an hour. As long as you ended the day with 10 more than you would have without my gentle push, you had reached your goal.
If 10 push-ups is too great a challenge, you can do 5, or even 1. As long as you are doing something extra, it doesn’t matter where you start. All that matters is that you start.
The point of small changes
But what’s the point of making a change that small?
There are a few, actually.
- Creating health does not require a Spartan level of self-discipline. This common misconception scares a lot of people away from even trying to make a change. In reality, and this is the philosophy that forms the foundation of the Habits of Health, installing a habit takes some self-control at first, but starting small makes that task a lot less daunting. Instead of trying to revolutionize your health overnight, installing the habit of doing 10 more push-ups a day is much more manageable. Once you have that habit established, you can move on to another. And so on and so on.
- A seemingly small change can produce impressive results. Will one set of 10 push-ups transform you? No. But if you do 30 days of 10-push-up sets, that means you’ve added 300 push-ups to your overall activity level. That adds up! Here’s another example of a small change that can make a big difference: cutting 1 tablespoon of fat a day leads to a net loss of 10 pounds of fat over a year. Remember, the Habits of Health aren’t about radical, instant change. Our goal is to make changes that are practical and sustainable.
- Getting started is a big deal, and once you start, keeping your momentum going and growing becomes easier. If someone tells you to do 100 push-ups today, I wouldn’t blame you if that sapped your interest before you even got started. But if someone says “do at least 10 today,” suddenly your goal is within reach. And once you get to 10, maybe you feel good enough to do a few extra. That little extra boost in self-confidence and in momentum adds up day after day, making your long term health outlook much more positive.
I hope this helps to illuminate more of the philosophy behind the Habits of Health. Better yet, I hope that you’ve given yourself a starting push-up number—even if it’s one—so that you can start making a positive change as well.