This is not going to be some diatribe on proper mastication. As a mother, I long ago lost the ability to savor a meal in dainty bites, preferring now to get as much into my mouth as quickly as possible, so as to be one step ahead of the chaos. No, “little bites” refers to an attitude, a practice that is relevant in every arena of life. It has to do with mental focus and fortitude. It has to do with keeping a grip on fear, anxiety, and doubt. Little bites are about owning change in your life.
Okay. So before I get too Deepak Chopra on you, let me put this “little bites” thing in perspective.
These two words are uttered to my athletes on a regular basis. For my athletes, it isn’t uncommon to be staring down a workout that requires 50 repetitions of more than ten exercises, or 20 minutes of non-stop movement involving weightlifting, gymnastics, and sprints. (If this doesn’t sound daunting to you, please drop in any Saturday at 9 a.m. for a sample -- and don’t say I didn’t warn you)
For the newer athlete, these workouts can take you on a quick trip to Crazy Town. “There’s no way I can do this” is something I’ve heard more times than I care to remember. I have actually seen pure terror arrive on my athletes’ faces when they see what’s being required. These tasks can just seem insurmountable. When faced with them for the first time, it’s easy to doubt your ability to succeed, much less survive, as you’ve never challenged yourself in this fashion before.
That’s where “little bites” come in. By focusing on one repetition at a time, or one exercise at a time, without getting in your head, and/or ahead of yourself, you will finish the task. It’s about chipping away, knowing that through diligent effort, one bite at a time, you’ll get the job done.
Currently at my gym, we’re almost done with 100 days of back squatting. This has been “little bites” all the way. For 100 days, we’ve been doing three repetitions of a back squat, adding one pound every day. Through the addition of that one little pound, we are going to see HUGE gains in everyone’s strength, gains that couldn’t be accomplished without committing to those 10 short minutes that it takes each day to hit those three reps. Got that? Little effort. BIG rewards.
Now, little bites don’t just apply to your training. They apply to any goal you have, big or small.
On the small end of the spectrum, I’ve noticed my tendency to stand with slightly contracted internally rotated shoulders. “Oh my God, no!” you say. “Anything, but that!” Yeah, I know that being a little slouchy, a little hunched forward, isn’t the end of the world, but hey, posture’s important! So, my little bite to fixing this bad habit permanently, is to consciously pull my shoulders back and down anytime I pick up my son, which is obviously occurring a number of times throughout the day. (You’re pulling your shoulders back and down right now, aren’t you? Ha! Gotcha!)
On the non-gym-stuff side of things, perhaps your goal is to improve your relationship, or to learn how to play guitar, or be able to run a mile without stopping. All of these goals carry with them challenges and, like a heavy workout, can seem incredibly daunting. Your relationship is complex, the guitar has all those damn chords (and your fingers are kind of short), and you haven’t run further than the mailbox in years. If you’re at Point A (these last three goals, for example) and all that you’re looking at is Point Z (you being husband/wife of the year, playing with Santana, or winning the Dipsea) the road between can seem painfully long and arduous. But the step from Point A to Point B isn’t too bad. And from B to C ain’t too tough either. One step at a time, one bite at a time, and you’re at your goal before you know it.
Little bites, my friend. Little bites can get you through a workout, keep you out of divorce court, around the track, and into a bikini. All you have to do is take that first bite.