Turning a Routine Into a Lifestyle:
Danielle Then and Now…
Small Victories Lead to Big Changes
Is immediate gratification necessarily a bad thing? By definition, instant gratification is the concept of an impulsive desire to have results instantly and that we don’t want to wait. We want it, and we want it NOW. In many cases, instant gratification is obvious in our society and subconsciously driven. For example, the way many people spend money to buy things or the way overeating is so easily done just for that instant feel good factor. With actions like these, we forget to take into account the negative long-term consequences.
Contrary to popular belief, when it comes to certain aspects such as staying healthy and reaching your goals, instant gratification can be a good thing. Yes, you can feel good, and you can feel good NOW. Gratification is really just instantaneous positive feedback from your actions, and this comes from finding enjoyment in what you are doing now, which will benefit you in the future.
Finding enjoyment in the now and receiving that instant gratification comes from something I like to call your “small victories.” A victory is a win or achieving success in something. Usually when we map out our grand plan – for today, tomorrow, life, business, goals, etc. – we put the finish flag at the end, and we think, When I get there, I’ll celebrate. This attitude says that only at the end goal is where the victory lies. But knowing that we’re going to encounter our fair share of obstacles between here and the finish line, we can’t wait until we get there to celebrate. This is where our small victories come into play. These small victories are stepping-stones en route to the big finish.
So you ask, what are these small victories? The victory can be as small as you make it. For instance, waking up before the alarm goes off, fitting into an old pair of jeans, or arriving at the traffic light as soon as it turns green. Small victories are opportunities to count our blessings and to be grateful. I think that celebrating the smaller things is an important habit in living life to the fullest.
Applying this to your personal fitness journey is the key to turning a routine into a lifestyle. Many people fall off track because they’re so focused on the end results that they forget to be present in the process. Some tend to hustle hard and go until they drop. There are tales of burnout, depression and quitting out of sadness and frustration. So the argument continues to be that this is a journey, a hard one, and the only way to make it sustainable and bearable is if you acknowledge your small successes along the way. Instead of focusing on all that we’re not getting done or how far ahead the end goal still lies, we should be focusing on all that we are getting done and how far we have come. For instance, the enjoyment which comes from the feeling after a workout, completing a new personal record, taking your favorite class, seeing friends and family at the gym, or just being at the gym in general. If you follow the concept of small victories, you’ll have more fun, boost your mood, gain motivation, and provide yourself with something to look forward to when times get tough. Celebrations provide positive reinforcement and lighten the arduous journey.
Just because you fall short of a goal doesn’t mean you didn’t work hard and accomplish other feats in the process. With this, understand that achieving great things takes time, effort and perseverance. You’re not going to reach your goal overnight, but the small victories along the way will bring you that instant gratification which makes every step of the journey worthwhile.
Fitness wasn’t always a part of my life, but over the past few years, it has become my whole life and my passion. A few years back, I was featured in a Fit to Print article and spoke about losing weight and working towards my fitness goals. My goals evolved from just losing weight to becoming stronger, in every way. I’ve been able to grow stronger mentally and physically and truly fall in love with every aspect of my training through the use of these “small victories.” I successfully turned a routine into a lifestyle. I believe a sense of enjoyment is key to staying motivated for the long haul. Do what you love and cultivate confidence. To keep the momentum going, you have to be dedicated to educating yourself and to experimenting on what fitness activities and nutrition work best for you. Experimentation not only combats boredom but also allows us to celebrate small victories, satisfying instant gratification, which helps us conquer small term goals and grow into long-term behaviors.
In the process, there’s going to be natural fluctuations, and it’s part of the journey. Find meaning in the process of change and embrace all the little victories, not just the end outcome.
Danielle Tinnirello is an ISSA-certified Personal Trainer and AFAA-certified Group Instructor. She specializes in fat loss, functional fitness, strength, conditioning, weight training, and H.I.I.T training.