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All or Nothing at All?

“When you improve a little each day, eventually big things occur. When you improve conditioning a little each day, eventually you have a big improvement in conditioning. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but eventually a big gain is made. Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens – and when it happens, it lasts.”

Coach John Wooden

I was in a real live bookstore recently (yes, they still exist…sort of…) and was struck by the displays of books touting total makeovers of one’s body, finances, life, whatever in 3 minutes or less.  Okay, I exaggerate but you know what I’m talking about.  Late night television is filled with infomercials that tell you that belly fat can magically disappear or that if you give up your life, you, too, can look like a body building cartoon hero.

And people fall for it when they feel like they are in a desperate place.  I see this with homemakers all of the time–they get disgusted with their house and go bonkers cleaning everything, clearing out closets, and driving everyone crazy.  Only to fall into bed exhausted and doomed to repeat the pattern over and over and over again.

To live a fabulous technicolor life, we need to follow the wisdom of our grandmothers: Baby steps.

  • When endeavoring to change eating habits, choose one new habit to replace an old one–such as drinking water instead of soda–and stick with it until it is a new habit.  It can be as simple as “I will have fruit at every meal.”  You may not lose 50 pounds in 10 days or by your class reunion next month, but eventually the excess weight will melt off and it will not feel like deprivation because you are easing into it.
  • Injuries occur when trying to use muscles that are used to sitting on the couch for intensive exercise or when switching exercises and thinking you can do it at the same level of intensity.  After several months of only doing walking exercises, I was able to restart exercising with weights.  For the first week, though, I completed the exercises without any weights just to remind my body (muscle memory) of what it was supposed to be doing.  I felt silly but within a couple of weeks, I was able to feel my body reclaiming its strength and moving differently, even though I’m still only up to 3 pounds.
  • Build your housekeeping routines.  And “routine” is the key word here.  I like using The Slob Sisters Sidetracked Home Executive card system to remind me of what needs to be done every day.  What I like about it is that it is a living entity.  When I started, I was still teaching myself how to keep my home clean.  It had just the basics–dust, vacuum, declutter, etc.  As my routines got faster and I started noticing more things, I added cards for them.  Moving to new houses necessitated adding new cards and removing others that don’t fit anymore (such as sweeping basement stairs…oh how I miss having a finished basement!).  As my housekeeping needs have changed, so have my cards.

The list can go on and on but I think you get the idea.

In the introduction to fashion class, yesterday, the goal for the day was to introduce our students (remember, I’m the tutor for the class) to the industrial sewing machine and help them sew a straight line.  That was “it.”  But it was enough since the machines are so powerful.  Our students will learn a lot during the semester but, as the professor told them, they will not be making bridal and prom dresses by the end of it.  They will learn to sew and design through a mapped out sequence of courses going from beginner to intermediate to advanced to couture.  Their first project will be a tote bag and then a year and a half later they will (hopefully) be ready for the couture sewing.

When we use the “all or nothing” approach to life, we are using “black and white” type of thinking.  And it’s hard to live in technicolor if we’re thinking in black and white.

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