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cddavi4's picture Carrie Davidson, EdD, ACSM EP-C, RYT 500
Exercise Specialist
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Are you a black-or-white thinker that leaves little room for grey? Maybe you find yourself getting discouraged easily, or even giving up on, something you intended to do when you couldn't do it to the maximum? You might have an all-or-nothing mentality.

I am guilty of this! If I can't do something 100%, then I am likely not to do it all. This used to be true about my fitness pursuits specifically. If I didn't spend a full hour in the gym doing something, I'd think, "is it really worth it?" If I didn't work extra hard and sweat it out, I'd wonder, "am I really doing anything beneficial?" The answer to both of these is a resounding YES! When it comes to exercise, every little bit counts. Repeat that out loud: Every little bit counts.

Walking from your parking spot to your workstation counts.

Walking laps around your virtual workspace counts.

It. All. Counts.

A recent article from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) explains exactly why your daily physical activity counts. The benefits come from what is called non-exercise activity thermogenesis, or NEAT.

NEAT movement is our everyday movement, things like unloading the dishwasher, walking to meetings, or playing with the kids. In other words, all the movement we do during the day that is not dedicated exercise time. The good news is that this movement adds up and could account for 15-30% of your daily caloric burn—that's up to 600 calories! So, the next time you feel that "all-or-nothing" thought rise up in your exercise routine, try thinking about being NEAT instead!

More broadly, this all-or-nothing mentality doesn't just apply to our physical activity and exercise routines. It also applies to other areas of our well-being like our food choices, meditation time, self-care practices, and interactions. For example, have you ever made a food decision that you instantly regretted, then said to yourself, "I'll start back on Monday?" But why wait until Monday? You'll have multiple opportunities to make a simpler or better choice before then. Remember, every little bit counts, so take advantage of it, no matter how small it may seem at the time.

Maybe you can't (or don't want) to spend 30 minutes sitting in the dark with burning oils and soothing music while you practice your breathing and meditation techniques. This does not mean you've failed or are a failure. Instead, maybe you could try a walking meditation on the way to a meeting or even spend just 5 minutes outside on your lunch break. Again, every little bit counts, so make the moments work for you.

By limiting the all-or-nothing mentality and instead focusing on every little bit counting, we also offer ourselves grace and kindness. We would show grace to our best friends if they make a mistake, so why not offer yourself the same kindness? Showing grace and kindness must start with ourselves if we want to live a happier, more satisfied life.   

So the next time something does not go to plan, or you make a choice you'd rather not have made, consider treating yourself like you'd want others to treat you and see what kind of difference this makes to your well-being.

Repeat it one more time: It's not all or nothing. Every. Little. Bit. Counts.

If you would like more support in applying an "every little bit counts" mentality, you can sign up for a free consult with one of our exercise physiologists, health coaches or registered dietitians. You can also find more posts like this on the HR Health and Wellness blog here.