Friday, January 10, 2014

Small Changes, Big Results

While I've seen many people make grand resolutions and sweeping declarations of change for the New Year, I've found that making small changes can equal big results.  My January 2013 goal was to exercise every day.  Was this as grand as most of the resolutions that I've heard? No.  It wasn't going to change my life drastically.  This manageable goal was enough to feel challenged and it was measurable. And because I was consistent, I was able to keep it going throughout the year.

January 2013 workouts
I tracked my workouts on a calendar with big X's. I liked seeing all of the X's and felt accomplished.  I hung it where I could see it and that made it much harder to talk myself out of exercising.

I kept using the X method during the following months.  It wasn't my goal to work out every day, but I usually got in 5-6 workouts weekly.  Unless I was sick, I didn't like to see two empty squares back to back.
Now with bonus walks

 In September, I added a star for every ten minute bonus walk that I took. While a ten minute walk is nothing to write home about, it's the cumulative effect that makes a difference.

Later in the year, I started keeping track of minutes exercised, reaching for a goal of 4 hours per week. Though that goal is pretty challenging, I do meet it some weeks.  (I am still taking bonus walks, I just misplaced the stars.)

More important than the X's or the stars or the minutes is this: I am still keeping track of my workouts in a visual way that is very motivating.  What started out as a January lark turned into a yearlong habit that helped me workout more consistently.  That led to making other healthy changes easier.  I was able to lose weight, keep it off, and keep going!

And it didn't cost me anything as the calendar was free and I had a sharpie and stars already.

December workouts


shez said...

Wow, what a great yet simple idea! I might be stealing this. :) Great job on all those workouts too! Do you have a treadmill and bike at home?

Amina Hafiz Sarraf said...

Thanks, Shez. Yes, we got a treadmill for Xmas a few years ago. This summer I bought a used bike on CL for $40.

shez said...

That's awesome! Our apartment building has a gym downstairs but it's not always easy to get the motivation to look presentable enough for being out in public. :/

Amina Hafiz Sarraf said...

Just don't wear your contacts or glasses when you go downstairs and then you won't be able to see anyone looking askance at your sweatpants and ratty college t-shirt with the armpit hole... for example.