Making Incremental Changes
Written by Zach Erick
Let me tell you a little story. One day, I woke up and I decided to be a distance runner. I had never ran more than a few miles at a time, had no idea how far I was supposed to run throughout the week, and knew nothing about proper running mechanics.
My first week training, I logged a whopping 30 miles. I was pretty much a distance running prodigy (in my head.) Meb Keflezighi had a new force to reckon with and his name was Zachary Erick. The second week, however, the wheels started to come off the carriage. My body felt like it was hit by a truck from the week prior. I was unable to recover over the weekend, and I had hamstrings tighter than a piano chord. I had to rest and recover the remainder of the week.
I was only in the second week of my most excellent training program, destined for greatness, and I already had to re-evaluate whether I’d be able to run in Boston that year!
Moral of the story: Incremental change is the key to success. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Rich Froning’s bod. Whether it be your training program, diet, or lifestyle habits, you cannot wake up one morning and do a 180 on your current lifestyle. It should only be one degree at a time.
Take your diet, for example. One of the simplest, yet biggest, changes you can make to your diet is swapping out any sort of juice, soda, or “flavored” water, to JUST water. That minuscule change has a huge effect on your daily caloric intake, sugar intake, performance in the gym, as well as how you feel throughout the day. If you’re addicted to sugar-filled liquids and have a hard time cutting them out of your diet altogether, then slowly decrease the amount you drink throughout the day over the course of a few weeks. We wouldn’t want you going into relapse – waking up in some alley with a bunch of empty Dr. Pepper cans scattered on the ground and your pants missing.
Keep in mind as you continue your journey through fitness that the road to becoming physically fit is a marathon – not a sprint. I don’t care if you start the race at a snail’s pace as long as you’re going in the right direction. Small adjustments to diet, exercise, and working on mobility will lead to a massive change over time – as long as you stick with it. The ‘Look Good, Feel Good’ Challenge is a perfect example of incremental change. The LGFG challenge is not a “you have one week to lose 20 pounds, GO!” type of competition. The changes you see in our participants body composition are the result of small changes that ultimately have a profound effect over the course of nine weeks.
Whether you just started CrossFit, or you’re shooting for the Games this year, remember that anything worth having takes time. Stick with the program, progressively increase the amount of time you mobilize throughout the day (or whatever your goal is in the gym is), and piece by piece swap out a certain food that may not be so healthy for it’s better alternative.