The small steps you take will amount to the big changes you wish for.
The path that got us to where we are now is not going to get us to where we want to be, right? Any change is preceded by a change in the choices which we make.
So we have to start somewhere else and do the small changes which will create different habits.
Those small changes – I call them “TINY WHEELS”, do not look very glamorous in the beginning and many people underestimate their power. With dire consequences – they give up.
But when it comes to the pain we carry along with us as we get older or the desire to level up the Sport we play, those tiny wheels have superpowers.
This holds true for a positive as well as a negative change…
The chicken head and a tiny wheel
When I met my now fiancé almost 3 years ago, his physical posture lacked – how shall I say this – direction. He was and still is in fantastic physical condition. A triathlete with a dedicated daily training practice – not for competition in this moment – but in amazing shape.
At 6’2’’ he was slumping pretty significantly when standing and sitting. Oh, and by the way, there are many athletes who have horrible posture. Being athletic does not necessarily mean you have awareness of your posture. Furthermore, he was in the beginning stages of developing this real ugly chicken head.
The chicken head, as I like to call it, is symbolic of our times. It is a condition which occurs when people do not take care of their posture until the neck is so deformed that it literally creates a horrible “hump” in the neck. It occurs when we allow the head to hang forward during prolonged periods of time and have no awareness that this is how we hold our head most of the time.
In the medical professions, it’s also known as texting neck or tech neck. Most people wait to address it only when it hurts so bad that there is no option other than to deal with it – usually at the orthopedic’s office – and already accompanied by bulging and/or herniated disks in the neck.
Back to my fiancé…
The longer he hung around me, the more he was exposed to my passion for people’s posture and their movements and the more he got interested in learning about his own body. (I never push people or try to convince them, because that is not my job. But if someone is interested I will offer my teachings with great pleasure and usually immediately a small solution that one can apply right away.)
I explained to him many things concerning the importance of taking care of our body, way beyond working out in the gym. In random talks here and there I showed him how to improve his posture with little tweaks and ONE stretch to start with.
So I left it at that… ok, no problem.
But what happened is, that our talks stayed in the back of his mind. Over time he observed more and more people with really bad posture: every day at work, at the events he has to attend, and also in the gym. Deformations in the spine, and bad foot and leg positioning which create bad posture and a lot of bad exercise patterns during workouts; he started to see it everywhere. And he became more aware of his own body, posture, and movements.
That motivated him to try out my little stretch again and slowly but gradually he started doing it more and more. At his office, before and after working out, etc. At times, when I was around I gave him feedback and helped to improve his execution of the stretch.
Then he asked for another stretch and the longer he worked on it, the better he was able to perform the stretches, and THEN they became way more fun to do!
A few weeks ago in the bathroom after a shower, he stretched again and I saw a completely different man than the one I met almost 3 years ago. He could not see that I was watching him.
His back is almost entirely aligned in the most beautiful and strong way. The “chicken head” is nowhere to be found. He seems 3 inches taller and his back muscles have developed much more evenly, as when I first met him.
Why am I telling you this: Because this transformation – I wish I had photos to document it – has not happened because of an elaborate training system, long hours on the yoga mat, the newest fitness fad, and efforts which required him to spend hours in the gym.
NO, it happened because he decided to make a few tiny changes to his awareness and applied two simple movements consistently over a long period of time. Three years have gone.… and I know what you are thinking. Three years? I don’t want to wait three years to have my posture aligned. Why are three years too long? Honestly…
The time would have passed anyway. He didn’t have to change his entire life.
He didn’t have to get up an hour earlier every day, he didn’t have to track his progress every day – he just kept doing his stretches regularly, staying aware of how he moves, stands and sits during the long hours of each day until he became who he is today.
It’s not part of what he has to practice anymore, but it's part of who he IS today. I love that. This is true transformation.
And please do not think, “well he is her financè, they train and work out all day long”. Quite the opposite is true. Our schedules are demanding and we both wish we could have more time with each other, let alone to work out or train. We often joke that he has to retire and become my client, so I can finally train him…
On a little side note: if he had not made the little changes, his posture would have declined even more. Sooner or later he would develop problems in his neck and maybe even upper body deficiencies. He would have to modify his workouts because he would start to avoid movements that cause pain. That, in turn, would have an impact on his entire body and his performance during triathlons. He would have plunged into a downward spiral. I see it every day all around me.
On the other hand, if he had been in more pain in the beginning, maybe he would have had the motivation to do more, add a few more movements regularly, be a little more urgent about it because he had more of a reason. My sweetheart somehow “stumbled” upon this because I came into his life.
So please don’t walk around now saying “Emme said, I just need to do one stretch and wait 3 years and all my challenges will be gone.” Certainly, it is a little more complex than that.
My finacè is still a work in progress and we can always do more if he wants to, but that shows you that those three years which included a small tiny change (wheel) have yielded incredible returns.
This is what I witness in all of my clients who really commit themselves to learn, awaken their awareness, commit to the process, apply the tiny changes and then keep practicing until the big changes sneak up on them.
Those big changes always come in form of life quality. Life quality looks different for each and every one of my clients. And that is priceless.