The ‘Just One’ Secret to Fitness (Or Anything Else)

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By Noelle Nelson

You stare at the digital read-out on your scale, unbelieving. Ten pounds?! How could you possibly have gained 10 pounds? You eat like a bird! Nothing but fruits and nuts and veggies. Of course there was that pasta dish the other night. And the irresistible danish at work. And the simply sublime butter sauce on the… OK, all right. So you’re eating more than just fruits and nuts and veggies. But 10 pounds?!

You swear yourself into your too-tight gym clothes, force yourself through the regimen of machines, spin class and treadmill, and stagger exhausted through the rest of your day.

Get up and do it again the next morning? Ha! No way. Every fiber of your being is screaming for rest. So you rest. A day. Two days. Three — and life takes over, you forget about your solemn promise to yourself to make it to the gym regularly, until you get on the scales again and the 10 pounds have somehow crept up to 12.

A losing battle? No! Just a battle you’re taking on as if it were a full scale war.

Switch your focus! Those pounds didn’t get there all in a clump. They eased their way into your body. The simplest and most effective way to get rid of them, is to ease them out. To focus on one small thing you can do, rather than attempt so much you dump into “can’t do” forevermore.

It’s the “just one” secret to fitness, that my best friend, a Pilates teacher and studio-owner, shared with me when I despaired about ever getting the knee I had trashed hiking down a mountain back to normal. “Just one leg lift,” she said, “You can do one. In a couple of days, do two. Next week, try three.” She was right. I could–and did!

Your turn. You want to appreciate those pounds off? Today, do just one sit-up. Right there, on your bedroom floor. No need to get all revved up and into the gym. Not yet. Just do one sit-up. There, done. Or if one sit-up feels too light-weight, do one set of sit-ups, like eight or ten of them. That’s it. No more. Just one set.

Tomorrow, repeat. One sit-up, or one set of sit-ups. Don’t let yourself do more.

The day after tomorrow, repeat.

Every three days, add “just one” to your regimen. Or, add just one new thing to your regimen. Repeat for two more days. And so on.

What you’ll find is that it’s very easy to do just one exercise, get used to that, and then add one more. Suddenly exercising isn’t a big deal. It’s quick and easy. You do it regularly, which is far more beneficial to your body and far more effective in achieving weight loss than slamming yourself into vigorous activity and then doing nothing for a couple of weeks or months.

Within a surprisingly short amount of time, you’ll work yourself up to a regimen that suits you and that you can stick with. You won’t lose those pounds all at once, but they will come off and stay off.

It doesn’t matter whether the exercise you choose is “just one walk around the block” or “just one minute of aerobics” or “just one salsa dance across the living room floor.” The “just one” principle allows your body and mind to adjust to increased physical activity gently and efficiently without the stress that would undo all the health benefits you’re trying so valiantly to achieve.

No matter what new habit or process you’re trying to make part of your routine, whether it’s taking time for meditation, reading inspirational books, doing affirmations, or starting a savings account–all of which are great for your happy, healthy long life–adopting the “just one” principle works wonders.

Try it! In whatever area of your life you want greater happiness. Switch your focus to what you can do today — and then tomorrow and the next day — and enjoy the fruits of your success, now and in your many years to come.

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