Small Moves, Ellie.
“Contact” is a 1997 American science fiction drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis, based on the 1985 novel by Carl Sagan. Jodie Foster plays Dr Eleanor “Ellie” Arroway, a SETI scientist obsessed with a lifelong search for extraterrestrial intelligent life. Her mission started when her dad informed her that if there were no intelligent life “out there,” it would be a waste of space.
Her search consists of searching the cosmos for radio waves from distant stars. As a child, her father was teaching her how to operate her ham radio rig. She was turning her dial too quickly and missing many of the signals. Her father told her to turn the knob more slowly.
“Small moves, Ellie. Small moves.”
By turning the knob slowly, she would take small steps toward her goal, without missing anything along the way. Her colleagues were missing things by taking on too much at once. Ellie went slowly, and it proved miraculous.
Later in life, she would make the discovery, not only of her lifetime, but of the greatest significance of human history, when she discovered intelligent life on a distant planet. She accomplished this feat by searching dead space in a void no one else cared to spend the time to listen to.
As we approach the new year, we should also remember that success is not achieved in tremendous leaps and bounds, but in small moves.
Every year, vast numbers of people declare in their “New Year’s Resolutions” that they are going to lose weight and get those coveted six pack abs. They go to the gym and put in a two-hour workout. Then they get so sore that they can’t go to the gym for a week afterwards. Then when they think of going back to the gym again, the haunting memory of that ambitious first attempt creeps into their minds and dissuades them from further pursuit. Add to that the swelling numbers of people with the same idea and you have a gym stuffed full of people with no idea how to train and doing things that are comical, if not downright dangerous.
Small moves, folks.
Start with something small. It doesn’t even have to require you to go to the gym. Try to touch your toes. Yeah, you heard me. Bend forward with a straight back, pointing your tailbone behind you. When you have gone as far as you can, let your upper back relax. Cross your arms and let them hang freely. Let the weight of your head and shoulders begin to slowly move toward the floor and away from your hips. Hold this position for 30-60 seconds. Then bend your knees for support and unfurl your back, one vertebra at a time, stacking one vertebra upon another until you are upright.
One small move. It will leave you a little sore the next day. And the next day you will have to spend extra time stretching those sore hamstrings back out again. But you will have done something. One small thing.
Then, if you feel really motivated to go completely crazy, stand up from the table. Yeah, that’s right. Don’t press your arms into your thighs or the table. Clasp your hands behind your head. Now stand up. Now sit back down and do it again. Do it a few more times. Add one repetition per day.
Now let’s look at your diet.
It doesn’t have to be changed all at once. Small moves. For starters, ditch the sodas. Yeah, even those coveted “sugar free, no calorie, no fat, gluten free” sodas. They aren’t food. Stop them. Do this for a month. NO sodas. I stopped drinking those nasty things back in 1991. I lost ten pounds that week – with no other changes.
After you have recovered from that shock to the system, give up your microwave. By doing this, you will also give up prepackaged, manufactured, precooked, artificial foods that you would normally put in that nuke box.
I have told my clients for some time now that if you’re making changes to get skinny, get those abs, make those gains, or get in shape, you are doomed to fail before you start. Those goals imply an end date. But if you concentrate on becoming healthier, on finding the better version of yourself, getting fit will just fall into place. Losing weight is a byproduct of a healthier lifestyle.
There is no need to start running 8 miles a day and going vegan tomorrow. Start slow, one step at a time. Add steps as you go. Small moves. Eventually, your life will change. The way you live today will be a memory. You will be healthier, stronger, more mobile.
But you have to start today. You must start now. You must do what is uncomfortable, and when you don’t want to do it. Try one pushup. If you can’t do a pushup, do them against a wall. Then do them against a kitchen counter. Then on a chair. Then the floor.
Can’t run? Yeah, I suck at it, too. Like a giraffe with epilepsy. Start by walking the driveway. Then walking to the end of the block. Then around the block. Then walk a mile. Then jog a little during that mile walk. Look at you go.
There is an axiom in Yoga. Don’t try to do it all at once. Don’t push it. Do what you can do today. If the instructor is doing a pose, don’t try to match her. Don’t push it, or you will be really sore the next day. Go as far as you can go that day. This concept applies to improving your health. Don’t try to accomplish it all at once. Change one small thing at a time. Omit one thing from your diet. Then add one thing. Add one exercise, or version of that exercise, as mentioned above. Then add another, and another.
The reason most people fail their resolutions is they try to do too much at once. They get too ambitious. They bite off more than they can chew. Be different. Be wiser. Start small. Start with one change. Add more changes as your tolerance increases.
This will allow you to stay the course. You will make lasting changes. You will succeed where others have failed. Think of becoming healthier, not fitting into a size 3. Your size will improve naturally and safely if you make the small changes over time.
No one said you had to go knock out an entire workout all at once. I don’t. I wake up and go right to 100 kettlebell swings. Then with the same kettlebell I get in some upright rows. Then I do a long forward bend and then squat down to my haunches for some good lower back and leg stretch. Later, I’ll get in some Hindu pushups or some jumping jacks or jump rope or shadow boxing. Later I’ll practice Tai Chi or karate forms. I get my work done throughout the entire day. It doesn’t have to be all in one shot.
Decide today to do the things you know you need to do. This is self-discipline. Do what you know needs to be done when you would rather do something else. Something easier. Something more fun. Less strenuous. Just do the thing and get it over with. Eat only when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored or simply thirsty. Get up from the couch five times with arms crossed over your chest. Small changes over time make big changes over time.
This week we begin Tai Chi again. To start a new year, we will begin class with a longer meditation to clear out old energies and leave space for new things to happen. Like the story of the man who climbed the mountain to see the guru. The guru began to teach. The man interrupted repeatedly to inform the guru that he had already studied those things. He tried to impress the guru of what he already knew. Finally the guru stopped his lesson. “Time for tea” he said. The guru poured for the man first, but did not stop at the top of the cup. He kept pouring. The tea ran over the cup and onto the saucer. Then onto the table. The man complained, “You’re making a mess of things.” The guru was unfazed. “Such are you. You have a cup that is too full. You must empty your cup if you ever want to fill it with new things.”
This week, our meditation will involve emptying our cup. We have all experienced a full year. And we drag those things into the new year as we go. We can’t accept new events if we are comparing those new experiences to what we have already endured. So let’s wipe the chalkboard clean so we can start anew. Then we will work on our forms.
Again, the Wed night Tai Chi class has been canceled for the foreseeable future due to my schedule at Ivy Tech Therapeutic Massage School. I’m sorry for this inconvenience.
Classes are as follows.
Dubois County Museum
Classes are $12 cash
Saturday 11:00 am
Unity of Evansville
4118 Pollack Ave 47714
Classes are $10 cash
I'm available by appointment throughout the week in Evansville for
Reiki / Acupressure
Herbalism / Nutrition
Message me by text, email, or Facebook Messenger to schedule an appointment.
In the Tao,