Small Changes Lead to Gigantic Results
When I give an assessment it is mostly conversation. We run through a few movement pattern tests, workout a little bit but most of the time is spent getting to know the person, their goals, history and stumbling blocks.
A lot of people are overly ambitious in their goals. I don't say that to imply that their goals are unattainable, they just have an unrealistic road map in their head.
This is especially true when it comes to nutrition.
I always ask : "What's your biggest dietary obstacle? What do you want to change?"
The normal answer is something like "I want to change every thing! Starting tomorrow I want to only eat kale, boiled chicken and never touch salt or sugar again!"
That's great, but it completely disregards human psychology and their own innate desire to revert back to what's comfortable.
I have to slow people down, and tell them that I don't want them to change everything overnight. I want them to slowly change their bad habits so that the process is do-able and sustainable.
The truth of the matter is that small changes over time lead to gigantic results. Gigantic changes over a short period of time lead to frustration and failure.
The 1% Principle
When I say "small changes" I mean it. The goal is to get 1% better at something you suck at every day. Some people refer to this as "The Kizen Principle" other people just refer to it as "I'm improving". Call it whatever you want.
The goal is to marginally improve at something EVERY SINGLE DAY. The end result being that these small changes lead to gigantic results over time. This chart below illustrates the results of one year of 1% daily improvement.
1% improvement daily is a do-able task. It only requires you to focus on 1 small area of your life and habits and make a marginal improvement. 1% takes much less commitment, foresight and willpower than making 100% change overnight.
Why This Works
You're human. You're ambitious, you want to be extraordinary. But you also want comfort.
It's encouraging and motivating to think of GREAT, GIANT GOALS accomplished in a short period of time. It's also really, really fucking hard to accomplish them and make them stick.
Giant change does not come overnight. Giant change comes over time. Giant change isn't even recognizable daily. You won't notice it until you look back over the past and realize how significantly you have changed.
Think of any difference between yourself now and yourself 10 years ago. Those changes didn't just happen overnight, they happened due to a series of decisions made over and over again. Eventually they led to a new person with new habits (better or worse).
Wholesale change doesn't work because we want the comfort of our routines. It's a big shock when our routines are suddenly gone or different.
People overeat and make bad food choices for a variety of reasons. A lot of times it's stress. Stress won't go away just because you've decided to eat only vegan, paleo or keto foods. Stress will always be there, and your brain will always want to deal with it the same way. It will seek comfort foods.
That's not a bad thing, it's part of being human.
However a lot of people feel like failures when they break their diet due to a stressful day at work.
They just had a lack of foresight and planning. They were also overambitious at the beginning. All of these shitty feelings can be avoided by being patient and putting in 1% extra work every day.
How to Apply This
Theoretical talk is great, but it doesn't amount to anything unless you have a plan in action, so here's how to use this.
Think of your worst nutrition habit. For the sake of example let's say that you eat out for every meal during the week. 3 meals per day, 7 days per week. That's 21 meals.
It's tempting to say "I'll just stop eating out". But that doesn't take reality into account. You might be busy and not have time to cook.
The way to apply this is to take away 1 meal eaten out per week. The first week you would eat out for 20 meals, the second for 19 and the third for 18 meals.
Over the course of a month that's a 15% improvement in food choice. It will take only 7 weeks to improve food choice by 100%. By starting small and building you can achieve any goal.
This can be applied to any bad habit- a sweet tooth, not eating vegetables, etc. Just find the weakest part of your diet and slowly chip away at it.
This is easy to apply in the gym as well. Let's say you want to get stronger. Start doing 1 pushup for a week. Add 1 push up every week.
At the end of the year you'll be able to do around 52 pushups all things considered.
Patience is more valuable than ambition. Social Media lies to you with it's amazing transformation photos. Amazing change is not possible in a short period of time if you want it to stick.
Start focusing on your weak points, and have the discipline to follow through. Recognize that you're a human and not a machine. You have emotional, spiritual and social needs. Giving into them does not make you a failure, it makes you a bad planner.
Your brain does not want change, it wants to be comfortable. It's comfortable reverting back to your bad habits, they were formed over time. It's going to take time to change them.
Stop beating yourself up and start being smart.