Ted Talks: One Small Switch Made All the Difference

By Ted Spiker

For me, fall usually leads to a fail.

Every year, it’s my busiest time at work, so three things typically happen: I let my schedule get in the way of my workouts, I let my stress talk me out of healthier choices and into gravy-smothered snacks, and I let my excuses lead me to one piece two pieces many pieces of leftover Halloween candy, if you’re inclined to spell Halloween candy r-u-m-a-n-d-d-i-e-t-c-o-k-e.

But this fall, I tried something a little different. A buddy and I found ourselves in a similar situation. We’re both committed to regular exercise (he in much better shape than I), but we agreed to try daily 6 a.m. workouts in my garage during the week. We limited them to 30 minutes, so that wehad time to beat the traffic to campus and get to our schedules and responsibilities.

At first, we’d text every night.

“Workout tomorrow?”

“Sounds good.” “Workout tomorrow?”

“Workout tomorrow?”


We started out consistently, but we didn’t make it every day. A couple weeks in, we made a small change: Let’s stop texting every night. Assume we’re on: We have a standing 6 a.m. workout Monday through Thursday in my garage unless somebody says otherwise. Text if you need to change, but the default is that we’re confirmed.

The simple switch made all the difference. We went from making it easy to opt out to making it difficult to opt out. The first result: We hit everyMonday through Thursday workout from that point until the end of the semester. The second result: Though I hated the 5:25 a.m. alarm with the same disdain I have for butter-less carbs, I felt so much better every morning just doing a quick (and, often, quite intense) workout.

I did something. I didn’t feel like I had to do everything.

If you read any health news/advice/social-media posts, you know the mantra that has made the rounds forever: Make small changes in your habits, and that’s what will lead to big results. You don’t need to have grand goals (Everest or bust!). You need to be consistent. And for the first fallseason in a long time, I felt like that worked.

Am I where I want to be? No. Do I have more changes to make? You bet. But do I see the value in small changes, not just bold declarations and resolutions? Absolutely.

I don’t know if I’ll keep the 6 a.m. workouts in 2023 or if I’ll change my routine to do them a little later and go a little longer, but I do know this.

The small decision to change from a confirmation (wanna workout?) to an assumption (we’re working out) was successful, even if my fingers did find their way—more often than not—to a bunch of bite-sized Baby Ruths.

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