When we’re talking about self improvement, the concept of 1% does not get a lot of excitement or buzz. It’s not sexy. We don’t tell kids that as long as they give 1% effort, that’s all the matters. We don’t consider 1% passing on tests or in life in general.
Of course not, that makes no sense.
But along with everything else in life, context matters. While a 1% effort overall is fairly unremarkable, what about a 1% increase? A few years ago, a 1% annual increase in your IRA portfolio would have brought tears of joy. But I’d still rather go to Vegas and play my odds.
What if we shift our thinking to a 1% change everyday? When you get down to it, that is a powerful concept. Not just because it “adds up over time.” But because of the concept of compound interest. If you remember from high school math, compound interest is interest on top of interest.
When we apply this principle to our health, the possibilities are endless. To help illustrate this point, let’s think about it in terms of money:
If you took $100 today to invest for a year and you were able to increase what you have by 1% every single day, at the end of the year, you would have $3,778.34. ($100 x (1 + 1%) ^ 365)
Excuse me, but if you don’t want a 1% increase every day on your money, I’ll take it. Of course I recognize that a 1% per day interest rate is purely fictional (unless you know of a bank offering this- please tell me asap). But the illustration is there.
On the other side of the coin, what if you said ‘Screw it, I’ll take my donuts and Netflix.” Or, for the sake of our illustration, you wound up with a -1% interest rate every day. At the end of the year, you’d be left with $2.55. ($100 x (1 + -1%) ^ 365). Sad trombone. While your losses are incrementally less than your gains, you still take a beating.
So what does all this mean in terms of your health and fitness goals?
The Compound Interest of Lifestyle Changes
Rarely do you see somebody bragging on social media about making a small change to their lifestyle- one that is so small it accounts for 1% of their daily habits. It’s just not sexy and with our All-Or-Nothing-American-Can-Do-Attitude, 1% is laughable.
But I challenge this idea. In my experience, 1% changes do not occur in a vacuum.
- A commitment to eat a more nutrient dense and satiating breakfast compounds into blood sugar regulation and less binge eating throughout the rest of the day.
- A new strength routine compounds into making you more aware of your body and the way you move, turning into a nightly foam rolling routine which reduces soft tissue issues and improves functional movement.
- Cutting back on soda compounds into a decrease of highly processed sugars, meaning your absorb more micro nutrients and significantly decreasing your risk for everything from cancer to Alzheimer’s.
- A step-per-day goal compounds into a habit of parking farther away at work and at the grocery store, increase your hip mobility and decreasing your chances of being immobile as you age.
- De-cluttering your closest compounds into a habit of hanging up your clothes when you’re done wearing them which reduces the tension between you and your spouse, increasing your overall happiness quotient.
- Adding a 5 minute meditation practice to your daily routine compounds into the ability to stay calm when being cut off in traffic, reducing cortisol and creating more hormonal regulation overall.
When people start to look, feel, or perform better, the changes start to carry over to other areas of their lives. You probably know that person who decided to drink green tea instead of coffee, stuck with it, and then 10 years later they are a completely different person. Like- it’s almost like their DNA changes.
You guys- this is me. I decided to go on a diet after my doctor said losing weight would help with my MS management. Seven years later I am a vastly different person. Not just body composition or jean size. My entire outlook on life and health has shifted vastly.
That did not occur with changing my diet 100% overnight. Or deciding to go to CrossFit six days a week. Or by obtaining nutrition certifications. It takes time to compound. You can’t invest $100 and have $3,778.34 the next day (again- if you DO know how to do this, let’s talk). My interested compounded for 7 years… and is still compounding.
So here’s what you do:
- Pick your 1%. This should be easy for you- think about the worst thing you said to yourself today and tackle that issue.
- Decide on ONE STEP that you can do to make that happen. Here is the catch- you know your personality. If challenges or detoxes have failed for you in the past, beware of this approach. Consider a more paced and deliberate approach.
- Just do it. Pick a date and a time to start. Recruit an accountability partner. Formulate a plan. And just do it.
What’s your 1% change? Have you seen a 1% change impact your overall lifestyle?
And oh yeah- just do it. Seriously.
A Quick Disclaimer:
Now. You may be rolling your eyes at your monitor thinking “I changed my breakfast or added intense exercise or whatever other change and it resulted in more cravings and out of control decision making.” If that’s you, I’d love to talk to you. Contact me for a consult!