Exercise can be intimidating. Whether you’re training for a marathon or just trying to get in a quick walk around the block, there are always reasons you can use to justify skipping out. If you frequently find yourself overwhelmed at the thought of squeezing in a workout, I might suggest making your goals more attainable. If a walk around the block is too much to think about, try a walk down to the mailbox and back. Once you’ve completed that, odds are good that you’ll realize it wasn’t too terrible and you’ll be better able to manage the thought of a longer walk. I use the mailbox walk as an example, but most people will need much more than that for a workout. Just know that regardless of what your fitness level is—you can apply this theory to your life.

Something I started doing in January of this year, was making smaller goals for myself every couple weeks. It started because I wanted to strengthen some of my body’s weaker areas. For example, realizing that I struggle with push-ups, I decided that every night before I went to bed I would do a set amount of push-ups.

I started the first night doing as many as I could—this was my baseline number—and gradually increased the amount of push-ups every night. We’ll use the number five to keep things simple. So night #1, I did five push-ups. The second night, I did six. Nights #3 and 4 I hit seven, Night #5 I hit eight and so on and so forth. Hitting a plateau is normal (in this example, nights #3 and 4 I got stuck at seven push-ups, unable to do any more). A plateau in the fitness sense refers to the point where your body doesn’t seem to be making any progress. I encourage you to push on (no pun intended) and you will see results again. The key in our push-up example is to never go below an amount you’ve already achieved. For instance if you’ve made it to eight push-ups, do not do less than eight the next night. Be sure to keep proper form when doing the push-ups to strengthen muscles and decrease risk of injury. Can’t do a full push-up (from your toes)? No problem, modified push-ups are certainly acceptable!

Doing push-ups every night is a very manageable goal. It hardly takes any time at all, you don’t get sweaty doing it and afterwards you’re a bit tired and ready for bed! Even though it’s a small amount of push-ups you’re doing every night, even the smallest change can help you live a healthier life! The same principle can be applied to food as well. People often think they have to overhaul their diets in order to be healthy—when in fact, small changes will also yield fantastic results. Try swapping fresh veggies for fried foods for a couple weeks.

What challenge will you make for yourself this week? I’d love to hear them, so please post them in the comments below!

Peace, love and success,

Melissa Villamizar, CPT


The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.