Before we jump into the actual advice you’re looking for, I need to tell you a quick story.
So there’s this one guy, for story purposes we’ll name him Andrew. He grew up doing sports after school, he was captain of the soccer team in high school, he ate well and went to the gym throughout his teenage years.
But after school ended (long story short), many of the good daily habits he practiced, fell away. Then he got a job, his long-term girlfriend fell pregnant with his baby, and all of a sudden – his life changed.
(I know, this sounds like the usual pre-transformation story, but there’s value in this, I promise.)
At the age of 25, his child was 4 years old, his girlfriend became his wife, and he grew into a comfortable way of living.
Andrew had little to no muscle mass, his body fat was well above what it should’ve been, he became a heavy smoker and his diet was inconsistent.
And he had a gym membership during this time – but in the past 2 years, he stopped and started these workout routines and diet plans every other month.
That’s when he decided that before he does another workout, he needs to master the art of showing up.
A quick google search told him it can take up to 2 months to build a habit. So for the first month, all he did was go to the gym for 5 minutes, every day. He would drive to the gym on his way home from work, do an exercise for 5 minutes, then go home.
Sounds absolutely crazy right? What’s the point of even going if you’re only doing something for 5 minutes? But that’s the beauty of his idea – why not go if it’s only going to be for 5 minutes? That’s easy enough.
What he noticed, even on days when he felt unmotivated, once he was there, he wanted to pass the 5-minute mark. This shows the hardest part is actually starting, but once you start, you feel motivated to finish.
By the time the second month started and he began implementing his longer workout routines, he stayed consistent. Because without considering it, he would head to the gym every day after work.
This is what Alpha Lucky, owner of AlphaFit, calls The Baby Step Principle.
What is The Baby Step Principle?
Too many people start working out for a week, they go hard, their muscles become sore, and they don’t workout again until they get that next hit of motivation.
So the idea isn’t to “go hard”, but to start small. So small you can’t say no to training – and then you slowly increase the amount of time you exercise for. For example, extending your 5-minute workout to 15 minutes.
You need to take the initial baby steps to take greater leaps. This is how you turn exercise into a habit.
This goes off the idea that you shouldn’t blindly follow your goals, but follow a process that can get you to your goal. So if your goal is to get 6 pack abs, follow a process of losing weight and building the muscles in your abdomen – instead of just saying your goal is to get abs.
Why Does This Work?
This works because of 2 primary reasons.
Firstly, if someone told you, that you HAVE to go to do a workout now, the majority wouldn’t be too keen. But if they now ask you, “You have to do a workout, but for only 5 minutes,” it doesn’t sound so bad now does it?
And chances are after you finish the workout, there’s a big chance you’ll want to expand on the 5 minutes.
Secondly, you build essential building blocks for yourself by doing this. If you become good at going to the gym every morning or starting that jog every afternoon, half of the battle is over. This is the power of habit – which you recognize or else you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
Apply this to Your Diet
What do you think is easier for a person that you wouldn’t consider as “fit”, diet or exercise?
Well, it’s a heck-of-a-lot easier to consume fewer calories, than it is to burn more calories. So it only makes sense that every beginner should ensure that their diet is in check if they want to lose weight/gain muscle.
But changing eating habits is one of the hardest habits to break. Studies show that people on average, stick to their diets for 4-6 weeks before quitting. Another study suggests that people fail their diet 95% of the time (or does their diet fail them?).
This is why the baby step principle is essential for beginners.
You’ll often find how difficult it is to stick to a brand new diet, and it often becomes even more difficult once there’s something stressing you, like work or relationships.
So don’t completely change your diet.
Instead, modify it, slowly. I once heard of a client that was eating two pizzas a day. It was recommended that he should replace one pizza with a healthier alternative. One that contains leaner meats and healthier carbs.
After a week, he should replace both pizzas with healthier alternatives, slowly easing into the process. And for him, it worked, he lost weight in a steady and consistent manner.
Sure, some people have crazy amounts of self-discipline. They can start a new diet and stick to it from day one – but for the majority of people, that’s simply not the case.
When you slowly modify your diet, you start feeling guilty when you continue consuming foods that you’re busy cutting out, training your brain to break bad eating habits. But that’s not the case when it comes to starting a brand new clean diet.
If anything, you may crave those bad foods even more.
Once you turn exercise into an unbreakable habit, you can implement every strategy you can think of to skyrocket your results. But without the habit, those strategies would be useless.
Research suggests that too many people start their fitness journey with the ‘hit the ground running’ mentality. Often because they were highly motivated at that moment, then they crash and burn.
But if you master the art of consistency, make small, gradual changes to your diet, workout, and lifestyle in general, you’re already way further ahead than most people.
It’s important to note, this principle can be applied to almost every aspect of life. For instance (this is a more personal example), when I don’t feel like studying, I tell myself I’ll study for 5 minutes. After those 5 minutes, I always want to continue – and then I slowly increase the timespan.
Build the habit first, the results will follow after.