“Do it right or don’t do it at all.”

“Anything worth doing is worth doing right.”

 

We’ve heard these sayings forever. And there’s some validity to them.

 

I mean, we teach our kids to be thorough in their homework and chores.

 

We know from our college days that the harder we study, the better our test score.

 

We are rewarded at work for a job well done.

 

And all of those are true!

 

But when it comes to starting new habits or making lifestyle changes, these thought patterns can actually do more harm than good.

 

They cause us to become what I call “all or nothing” people.

 

They cause us to try to make too many changes at one time, and, thus, not be able to sustain those changes.

 

I have spent years trying to overcome this “all or nothing” and “change everything at once” mentality.

 

I had it in my home, marriage, parenting, homeschooling, businesses, dieting, fitness—-basically everywhere. (See how we overcame this in my video at DonnaReish.com about one change a month or one change a week!)

 

And this morning I was faced with it again! (I did a FB Live Fast Shot video in my free private FB group AS IT WAS HAPPENING!. You can watch that in the group or in a week or two when it is at the blog!)

 

So here I was….at the gym making incremental changes in my fitness regiment each week—just like a person who wants to change their lives should do! (Get this book, Atomic Habits, to learn more!)

 

Yes, I have been doing it right since I began my strength training in November:

 

1) I went to various classes each week as much as possible to see what ones I liked, which ones were too loud or frenetic for me, what workouts were good for me for strength training/building muscle, etc.

2) Once I determined what I liked and which things fit into my schedule, I began carving out time for those classes (as they fit with my teaching schedule).

3) Next I went to the machine room on mornings that I couldn’t make it to a class. (I have discovered that I prefer working out in the mornings in a fasted state at about the 12-14 hour fasted mark. I teach more about that in this Fast Shot video!)

4) When I went to the machine room, I started out slowly. Eight or ten machines each time for 8 reps. Nothing crazy. I had never lifted weights of any kind before (except for hand weights in the classes I had just begun), so I knew I needed to go slowly.

5) In the past three months of the weight room on my non-class days, I’ve done exactly what I have told moms everywhere to do for over two decades (and what James Clear says to do in the habits book above): I added things slowly. I wasn’t an all or nothing person for the first tine that I can remember when it came to exercise attempts. I would alternate between increasing the number of machines and increasing the reps—-up to 12 machines with 8 reps then the same 12 machines with 12 reps….until I got to my current spot of 20 machines and 20 reps each (just added some reps this week). (Very scientific and “exercise sciency” of me, I know!)

 

Incrementality. Systematizing. Little by little. Step by step.

 

It has worked wonderfully for me with my fitness routines….

 

Until today.

 

I had to do a couple at home work outs this week and went to two classes, so I hadn’t been on the machines as much. (I work out six times a week total—doesn’t matter to me if it’s more classes than machines or vice versa right now.)

 

So I thought to myself You should go ahead and add more weight along with your increase in reps this week. Adding more weight will increase the cardio effect of your workout also.

 

And You haven’t done much HIIT since you’ve had a cold. You should probably add 10 minutes of HIIT to the end of your strength training….starting today too!

 

Here I had just had a hugely successful week—-6 workouts in six days. Hit my number of machines and number of reps for the day.

 

But I needed to do more. And I needed to do it right now.

 

All or nothing.

 

No small changes. Let’s change three things this week.

 

But thankfully a funny thing happened.

 

I got on the rower to add my HIIT, and one of my group class teachers asked if I minded hopping off for five minutes, so she could do a demo on it for someone—before I had even started.

 

I took that as a sign and jumped off and went to the stairwell and made the aforementioned video.

 

I don’t want to be an all or nothing person.

 

I don’t want to be the kind of person who makes so many changes at one time that I never stick with them.

 

(Little aside—-when I was trying to conquer this habit of making too many changes at once in my parenting and homeschooling, I made this HUGE master list of everything I wanted to change…all the schedule changes, school fixes, relationship solutions….everything I thought would make everything PERFECT {like that ever happens!}. Then I just chose one thing. I could only pick one. The squeakiest wheel needed to get the grease…but only one wheel. It worked great! So you might try this if you are an abundance-of-ideas and changes kind of person!)

 

James Clear, in the above-mentioned Atomic Habits, says that little habit changes are like compound interest. When we look at a compound interest chart, it hardly looks like it is even worth it to put any money away at all! Seriously….thirty-two cents interest. Like that’s going to make me rich!

 

But when you look further down the chart, you realize that the real beauty of compound interest is, well, when it is compounded….down the road!

 

And so it is with habits.

 

I know this works. I know it is true. (And not just because Clear says so!)

 

I have proven it in my own life time and time again in thirty-two years of homeschooling.

 

And I have proven it over the past 15 years of losing 90 pounds.

 

And I have proven it over the past year of losing over 100 pounds together with my husband through Intermittent Fasting.

 

And as my “next size” jeans from the hook on the bathroom door are drooping…I am proving it again with incremental, small changes in exercise each week.

 

I hope you believe it too!

 

I hope you can see that you can make a small change today…and another next week….and another the following week.

 

And at the end of a year, you will have 52 amazing changes that not only make you what you want to be—but in the areas of food, fasting, and fitness, they change your body shape and weight.

 

So here’s to my past “all or nothing” and “change everything at once” self—-“I know you had good intentions. I know you wanted to ‘be the best you can be’—but that approach rarely works and rarely sticks. So thanks for the experiments–I learned a lot. But now I’m a ‘compound interest’ kind of girl!”

 

Have a great, incremental, systematized, sunny week!

 

Let’s “feel great and live well,”

Donna

P.S. I can help you make the incremental changes of Intermittent Fasting! My month-long course starts again in a few days–and I take my students by the hand every day for a month to get them on the fasting lifestyle train! You CAN do this! https://intermittentfastingcourse.com

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