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Why STEPS work!

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

When I was in grade school they taught us the six simple machines: lever, screw, inclined plane, wheel and axle, pulley and the wedge. These were the building blocks for all complex machines. The one I want to talk about today is the inclined plane. In it's simplest form it is a ramp set at an angle to allow the movement of a load from one level to another. STEPS or stairs are a form of the inclined plane. If you have a 10 foot ceiling you would never be able to JUMP up to the next level in your home but when you get on the steps you make your way ONE STEP at a time to the top. The simple tool (inclined plane) helps you do that.

It's much the same way with our journey to health and fitness. There is no QUICK way to JUMP to the destination. We must use the tool to take it step by step. Sometimes we have to make the height of those steps even smaller if we are not able to make a great change at once. I call these BABY STEPS.

If you are just starting out on your journey or have reached a plateau I suggest you sit down with a pen and paper and list some small steps you can take to make progress on this journey to "Health & Fitness". Here are some possible steps you might try:

1) Give up one non-essential food (it could be something as big as dessert or something as small as cream in your coffee - but give it up and don't turn back)

2) Trade out your soda for water. If that is too big of a change do what I did. I progressed from cola to diet cola to water with a powdered drink mix to water with a slice of lemon. There is no way I could have gone from cola to water but by taking steps I managed it.

3) Park at the far end of the parking lot at work and use the stairs rather than the elevator. If you work on the 18th floor start by riding to 17 then walking up. Increase it over time.

4) Put on your favorite music and dance. Start with one song and step up to a full 30 minutes of your favorite tunes.

5) Trade your double burger, fries and shake for a kid's meal. If that's too big a change start by trading your shake for a soda, then step down to a regular burger, then step down to the kids burger, then trade the fries for apples. Remember - baby steps.

6) Give up your sedentary habits. If you come home from work and sit at the computer/tv until bedtime start by spending 15 minutes doing something active. Walk up and down the driveway - increase to down the street and back. Get on the exercise bike or ellpitical. Play a Wii game or shoot hoops in the driveway.

7) Track your food - if all out tracking is too hard start by just tracking one meal, progress to tracking all food ONE day out of seven. Step your way up to full-time tracking.

8) Strength training. Start by using a soup can or your stapler and tape dispenser and do a few bicep curls. Work up to using hand weight and gradually increase the weight and number of reps over time.

9) Look for the better option dining out. If you've been ordering the pasta al fredo - step down to marinara. If you have been eating the salad dressed out - ask for everything on the side and begin by using only half as much. Step your way to the best choices.

10) Move the snacks further from your chair. If you keep chips, nuts, candies, cookies, crackers etc on your desk. Move them a little further away. Make it harder to mindlessly eat. Eventually move them out of the room then perhaps you can quit buying them all together!

11) Take time to educate. Knowledge is power. Sparkpeople makes it easy by highlighting health articles, the Daily Spark, there are wonderful blogs, recipes and other helps. Start by reading ONE article a day. Perhaps you try ONE spark recipe a week. Step into making learning a daily habit!

12) Eat more freggies. For some of you this is a hard thing to do. Start by trying to eat one a day and build on that. Then start branching out and trying new things. Expand your horizons one step at a time.

13) Put your meat on a diet. Try to move from high fat red meats to low fat poultry and fish. Start by buying leaner cuts of the red meats you enjoy (sirloin, round steak) then move to chicken, turkey and fish.

14) Less is more. Start shaking less salt on your food. This will be a hard one for people that eat out a lot or eat frozen foods/processed foods. Start by moving the salt shaker off the table. Try cutting back ONE frozen meal a week. Start cooking more of your own food so you can use less salt.

15) Read your labels. Don't buy ANYTHING unless you either KNOW it's nutritional information or look at the label. Start by comparing on one item you buy (like bread). Check for FIBER content (the higher the better), sugar content (the lower the better) sodium levels (the lower the better) and overall calories. Then move onto other foods like breafast cereals. There is a WIDE variety and some are better choices than others. Step into this one food at a time.

These are just some of the SIMPLE steps you can take to help you make progress on the journey to "Health & Fitness".

Soon those baby steps will have you cruising along!

Press On!
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