Monday, November 29, 2010

The Importance of Starting Small

I've had a number of discussions with various friends of mine recently about exercise and getting into an exercise regimen. My advice for many of the people who ask what gym I go to, where it is, what I do for exercise is the same: Start small.

One of the young ladies in my history class at college talked about how she started doing P90X with her boyfriend. She said she could only do it for two days before she had to quit. Now, I consider myself pretty knowledgeable, but I am not by any means an exercise expert. Nevertheless, to me, this approach to fitness seems less than useful, and even a little counterproductive. What is the point of starting a regimen that one is unable to continue?

One of my good friends was lamenting that he can't seem to find the motivation to get into the gym as much as he'd like, which is effectively never. My advice to him was to start small, with pushups, situps, and squats, one day a week. My friend asked me if one day a week would accomplish anything. My answer to him, the same as it would be to anyone, is yes. Exercising one day a week will set him up for exercising two days a week.

This brings me to my point for this little post. When I started CrossFit, I didn't just dive in and start doing the workouts everyday, full go. I did what any intelligent and committed person would do; I did what I could handle, until I could handle more. What I tell people over and over is to simply start small. Pushups, situps, and squats is a great way to ease into a workout regimen. Twenty-five of each a day, no matter how long it takes, or how many sets the person has to break them into. It could even be hours in between sets. Of course, twenty-five is a completely arbitrary number. It could be as little as one of each, every so often throughout the day. One of my friends started his exercise regimen with walking, and has progressed to walking further as he lost weight. He has now lost twenty-six pounds as a result of his exercise.

That is one example of a success story. Small steps which lead to big gains. The hardest part of any new habit is taking the first step, especially one which may involve a certain amount of self-sacrifice. I have a gazillion things I would prefer to do on some days besides hit the gym or some other form of training. I do it because I enjoy it, and because it's continuing the commitment I made to myself when I began my exercise regimen. Small victories lead to larger ones, and this is true just as much in the realm of physical fitness and personal well being as it is in other areas of life.

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