We’re now over 1 month into the New Year. Why should you care?
Well, each individual is unique, however it’s at the approximately 3 week mark that New Year’s Resolutions or Goals begin to crumble. We lose the “fresh start” motivation we get at the beginning of the year and if we haven’t learned the right strategies or applied the right disciplines by now, we begin to succumb to old attitudes, habits, and routines.
Why is that?
It could be any number of reasons, but one big reason is that we try to do it all at once. Deep inside we want and believe we can make all the changes we need if we just give it our all every day.
Unfortunately, adding an hour here for workouts (not including drive time), an hour there for meal prep (not including a grocery run for ingredients) and another 20 minutes here or there for self care, more sleep, or less stress adds up extremely quickly. This is especially true when you’re a driven professional or motivated mom (or both!) in your already extremely tight schedule.
So what am I telling you here?
Going From Zero To 100 Never Works
Instead, I always recommend starting small with changes that really don’t feel like much effort. A good rule of thumb to start with is a 4% change or challenge. This is what we call the “Start Small Principle”. What it means is to challenge yourself or set out to make a change that’s only 4% more than where you’re at currently or 4% better than your current skill level.
What makes this small & seemingly insignificant adjustment so remarkable is this…Making 4% adjustments should land you just outside your comfort zone. This part is important because stretching ourselves, even in the smallest ways, stimulates learning & skill development/acquisition.
The second important part is that it’s also small enough. In other words, not too challenging so that you experience anxiety and it pushes you into overwhelm.
This is sooooooo underappreciated!!! What we’re seeking is our own individual sweet spot.
If you like to nerd-out like me, this is what’s known as the Yerkes-Dobson law. The sweet spot is a result that the increased stress (just outside your comfort zone) leads to increased performance up to a certain intensity.
If you push yourself too much or you don’t adjust as circumstances change or signs of stress show up you’ll push yourself right out of the sweet spot and your performance levels off or falls off.
The opposite is true as well, if you find yourself bored & uninterested then you’re challenge isn’t big or tough enough. When a challenge is too easy, you’ll end up quitting because of “lack of motivation”.
Now, some of you may be laughing at the 4% metric and in most situations people leapfrog 4% with ease. This is great! Just keep increasing 4% until you hit your sweet spot. However, for a lot of people who are stuck or just getting started and need to build momentum in order to break out of their rut, 4% tweaks are the perfect place to start (it’s also great for plateaus!) I recommend sticking to the 4% sweet spot until you’ve built up enough velocity (consecutive 4% wins) to make bigger leaps.
To finish my point, 4% is the key to creating a lifestyle that lasts; making these small adjustments allows you to identify what fits as seamlessly as possible into your current circumstances and lifestyle.
Of course, this will still take a little thinking, planning and practice (aka trial & error), but it’s a change that’s easy to maintain and generates momentum.
I even recommend this to the advanced athletes we work with. When you get to peak performance, it’s rare to see big changes. 4% challenges improves confidence and consistency as you get into bigger and harder goals later.
Let’s look at some examples of how you can do this…
3 Ways You Can Apply The “Start Small” Principle
If you’ve followed Lady Leader Lifestyle for a while then you’ve heard us talk about blitz training or burst workouts. These are described as short, intense bouts of movement in order to “reset” your internal chemistry. Our beginner protocols call for picking 3-5 different exercises to do for a minimum of 5 minutes straight. Yes, 5 minutes of exercise done properly can get results!
That’s not what we’re talking about here though.
For perspective, let’s say you even find it hard to set up a place at home, pick your exercises and get after it for even 5 minutes. Maybe you’re bogged down with a time-intensive project for the next 3 months at work and a lot of your free time is accounted for. Or you’re a mom and it’s the middle of your kids sports season and you’re time strapped with calendar full of school activities, studies, games, & practices.
Even worse, each time things like these come up, 3 months later you’ve gained weight and you’re right back where you started; just trying to muster the energy to get back into an exercise routine, let alone lose unwanted weight.
This is where workout quickies come in!
How does less than 1 minute of exercise at a moderate to high intensity sound to you? You don’t even need equipment for this. Bodyweight is sufficient. And, you can literally do it anywhere. Yes, research shows as little as 20 seconds of vigorous movement has been proven to improve cardiometabolic health.
Although there haven’t been any formal studies done on using quickies for fat loss, we have clients who have lost weight using quickies (along with other lifestyle changes). At minimum, quickies are good enough for you to maintain (so you don’t gain weight) & improve your health (increased cardiovascular & other health measures).
If you’re stuck, just getting started, or extra-busy right now this could be the challenge you need to start small and reap benefits!
Self Care Corner
Maybe you’re someone who is go-go-go everyday and instead of more go-time, you could use some down-time. If this is you then it’s time to create a space just for you. It doesn’t have to be anything big, just a corner to relax, a window with a peaceful view, or a 1 minute meditation. Perhaps it’s stretching that makes you feel wonderful, creating a 10 minute reading habit, or unwinding in a unique way that really soothes your soul.
One thing my husband teaches that I really appreciate is what he calls, “Self Care Stacking”. It’s where you find 3-7 things that you really enjoy and do them all at once. Aka, a self care stack. For example, using the things I mentioned above, you could stack the relaxing corner with the reading habit or you could stack the peaceful window spot with stretching and the 1 minute meditation. Wow! That sounds wonderful.
Whatever self care means to you, choose something that’s in the 4% sweet spot for you and start caring just a little bit more for yourself.
Blunt Blood Sugar Spikes
If a nutrition based change is easier for you than adding movement or slowing down for self care, then I recommend change for you. Simply add protein and/or fiber anytime you eat carbs.
Carbs spike blood sugars. Excess blood sugar is stored as fat. When you add quality protein, veggies, or fiber-based carbs such as fruits to your meals with “starchy” carbs, it helps to “balance” blood sugars and blunt spikes that lead to storing fat and eventual weight gain.
To make it even more beneficial, you can optimize it by the order in which you eat these foods. For example, eat your veggies first, then proteins, and then your carbohydrates. Find your sweet spot for doing this and enjoy more balanced energy and better results!
LADY LEADER LIFESTYLE ACTION ITEM
Choose one Start Small Principle from above or come up with your own this week. I encourage you to start at a 4% challenge if you’re currently stuck, just getting started or at a plateau. If you’re currently being consistent, then do a little trial and error on a challenge you can start this week, but be consistent with for the next 6-12 weeks. If you’re struggling to even start, contact us to setup a consult call to help you define your exact next steps.