We writers have a theory: Tell someone, anyone, about your fabulous book idea and it won’t be long before you see it displayed on the “New” shelf at your local bookstore -- written by somebody else. It would seem there is a finite number of great ideas. Release one into the universe and it will whirl around the galaxy until it finds purchase, usually in someone else’s gray matter.
It’s happened to me many times, which is why I should have expected this one. Reading about the book Stealth Health: How to Sneak Age-Defying, Disease-Fighting Habits Into Your Life without Really Trying
, I recognized an idea I had considered once myself. That prompted me to page back to the beginnings of my daily journal only to learn that I had jotted down a strikingly similar theory four years ago.
It’s simple really. Instead of trying to change every last thing—at once -- about your life to be healthier, fitter and less stressed, it’s more sensible to initiate small (doable) things each day until they become habits. Then, with that foundation in place, you can introduce other small things. Pretty soon you’ll find yourself traveling down the Health and Fitness Highway at a fairly good clip, congratulating yourself on how easy that was.
Borrowing from my four-year-old journal entries, here are a few of the small things I thought I could accomplish without shaking up my whole life:
- Walk 30 minutes every day.
- Don’t eat meat today.
- Stretch for ten minutes.
- Buy a health magazine.
- Try a new fruit at the grocery store.
- Declutter one small section of my desk.
- Choose water at lunch instead of a soft drink or coffee.
Readers Digest published the Stealth Health book, which follows on the heels of a couple of earlier books centered on the same concept by Evelyn Tribole. Her books --which I was not aware of when I had my own revelations -- focus on nutrition and recipes that followed through with the idea that small changes are less disrupting and, therefore, offer more of a chance of success.
To begin, as explained in the latest book, choose three small changes in your life and do each of them every day for four days, After these changes have become habit, you can move on to other ones. You’ll be perfect in no time!
Two of the Top Ten changes suggested in the Stealth Book -- quitting smoking and getting a good night’s sleep -- could be too difficult to achieve in only a day. They may need to be part of a longer, ongoing plan of small steps. But most of the others on the list can be accomplished by bedtime tonight:
- Drink a cup of tea every morning.
- Have a glass of wine every evening.
- Talk to a friend on the phone or via email every day.
- Take a multivitamin with minerals.
- Replace your morning cereal – Fruity Pebbles -- with a whole food product – oatmeal.
I’m sure by now you have come up with some potential changes of your own: Serving a small, sliced tomato at dinner; adding quickly sautéed vegetables as an additional topping to a home-delivered pizza; tossing junk mail out before it makes its way into your office; drinking a small glass of juice with breakfast; taking the stairs at work, and, that old standby -- parking your car far from the entrance to the mall, to force yourself to walk more.
And so it goes. Not earth-shattering changes by a long shot, but ultimately, this may be the answer we’ve been waiting for. Let’s face it: Those Get in Shape NOW, Change your Diet TODAY, Never Eat Birthday Cake AGAIN -- Ever! plans just don’t work for the long term.
Now if I’d only had the foresight to put these ideas into a book, my place on Oprah’s couch would have been guaranteed.
By Teresa K. Flatley