Diet, nutrition and food choices tend to get the limelight when it comes to healthier living. Maybe it’s because we think we’re more disciplined than we are? Or maybe it’s because people just really hate working out? I haven’t figured it out.
But what I have figured out is that with activity there’s a trickle down effect into most other areas of life. The same can’t be said for the way we traditionally view dieting.
Nutrition = Deprivation
Usually when people think of getting healthy, they eliminate things in their diet or try some type of a cleanse or maybe even go extreme and swap out their entire food lifestyle.
The diet world is full of “eat this, not that” and ramblings of which macronutrient (carbs, fat, or protein) is the key one to focus on or avoid if you want to lose weight.
And even when you do find the right kind of healthy food, say a salad for example, you’re usually having to deprive yourself of that fat juicy bacon cheeseburger.
So then next time you’re out, you reason with yourself that since you opted for the salad last time, you can have the bacon cheeseburger and loaded fries this time… it all evens out, right?
The trickle down effect of trying to eat better can sometimes backfire and it’s easy to find yourself making up for lost cheeseburgers.
Activity’s trickle down effects kick in right away! Well, it might take a minute or two after you catch your breath, but you’ll be feeling accomplished, your brain will have all the good neurochemistry and endorphin action going on, and you’ll be glad you did it!
Even if you start small – and I mean tiny – it still has that effect. If you start by walking for 5 minutes or doing 10 bodyweight squats, you won’t regret doing it and find yourself making up for lost cheeseburgers.
And it’s proven that if you’re able to get the positive reinforcement right away (like feeling the ‘high’ after a good workout), you’re more likely to repeat it. Think of that versus the health benefits of a salad that you’ll feel in 20 years… maybe.
The immediate rewards have a way bigger impact, which means you’re going to want to do it again, so those small or tiny things you’re doing will add up to huge results over time.
Drip Drip Drip
I’ve already mentioned the sense of accomplishment, the brain stuff and the overall good feeling that you did it.
But getting in your daily activity trickles down into every other area of life.
You’ll feel more confident after accomplishing a workout, and you’ll get increasingly more confident as you’re able to do more and new things.
You may find you’re more productive and focused at work. This could mean improving your work life and relationships with bosses and coworkers. If you’re a more positive, productive and valuable member of the team, you might even see financial rewards coming your way.
Activity helps alleviate stressors (which we could all use right now). So you’ll find you’re less stressed which may make you more fun to be around (especially in quarantine) and as a result your home life and relationships can improve.
It even has trickle down effects into nutrition! You might find you’re listening to your body and drinking more water as a result of being more active. Perhaps you opt for just a couple cookies instead of the entire sleeve – afterall, you worked out today! And that means both that you earned those cookies, but also you don’t want to overdo it and negate the effects of your hard work. Win-win!
Greater Than the Sum of Parts
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts rings true in activity as much as it does in traditional philosophy.
The small, incremental changes and progress you make each day don’t seem like much when examined individually. But after a year of doing those tiny steps, you’ll be 365 tiny steps ahead of where you are now. And that will seem like lightyears ahead as you look back to reflect on where you started.
So no matter how small the step seems to you in the moment, know that it matters because of the trickle down effect that activity has on our lives. Do those 10 squats, my friend, they add up fast.