Start Small to Win at Fitness

The new year is here. This used to be an incredibly exciting week for me. I would have a dozen New Year’s Wishes in place and I was highly motivated to make each one happen. But, as I’ve previously written, by the end of January each of these wishes had been quietly set aside as my emotional fuel ran dry.

Someone once said, a goal without a plan is merely a wish.

And, that was a large part of my problem. What I called goals were really just wishes. Looking back, I’m not sure I ever had a plan for any of my goals. I just assumed because I wanted it “bad enough” it would happen. Oh well…

If you have a goal to get fit you are not alone. Every year, fitness and exercise top the list of things we most want to change about ourselves. For most, it’s merely a wish. For others, there is a plan…most likely involving a new gym membership. But, those same gyms will be far less crowded in just a few weeks.

So…what’s up with that?

The wrong plan is what’s up with that. Because we want change NOW we usually Start Big. We dive head first into the deep end. Our workouts are long, intense, and hard. And, the results probably don’t equate with the effort expended.

That’s when we realize the second part of our plan is Think Short. So, we get frustrated and find excuses to miss a workout. Before long the only calories we’re burning is writing the monthly check for the membership we’re no longer using. And, if it’s on the credit card or automatic debit we don’t even get that caloric benefit.

Start Big. Think Short.

That’s how most people approach fitness. Instead your plan should be:

Start Small. Think Long.

In other words…lots and lots of tiny wins is way more effective than a few big wins at the start that are not sustainable.

You can win at fitness by walking if you’re willing to do something different. Start Small. Think Long. Let’s get started.

Part One is setting the correct target. How many steps should you aim for each day? Getting this right is crucial to your long-term success.

Most of us start with the idea that 10,000 steps a day is what we need. And, this makes sense since it’s the number we read about most often. Did you know this is actually five times the minimum amount recommended by the CDC? They want us aiming for 150 minutes of moderate activity (brisk walking) every week which is about 20 minutes a day. Getting 10,000 steps requires 100 minutes a day. 

Here’s the problem with 10,000 steps. It’s a great goal, but for most of us, as a starting target, it’s just too big. The average American gets around 4,000 steps a day. Starting with 10k is like joining a gym and doing an intense workout every day. How long do you think that will last.

Start Small.

So, what’s the right target for you? First you need a step tracker. 

If you don’t have a Fitbit I recommend the Fitbit Inspire HR. This is the Fitbit I use to track my 20,000 steps a day. The Inspire HR also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.


(By the way…if you use the link above to but a Fitbit Inspire HR this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)

Once you have a Fitbit you need to determine YOUR daily average step count. For a full week go about your normal activity. It’s crucial that you don’t do anything different during this week to boost your steps. In other words, don’t take a long walk on the weekend if you don’t normally take a long walk on the weekend. I understand it might even feel a little embarrassing if your daily totals are low. Remember, we’re aiming for long term fitness wins…not a temporary boost to your ego.

After a full week add up your step totals for the seven days and divide by seven. That number is your daily average and that’s your starting point.

One of the biggest challenges most of us face when we want to get serious about fitness is a lifetime of failure. How many times have we set a new fitness goal only to feel the shame of failure a few weeks or months later? This can be debilitating to any future attempts because that tape keeps looping through your brain.

“I can’t do this. I can’t do this. I can’t do this.”

The first priority of winning at fitness is…wait for it…winning at fitness. Yep, that’s the only way you’re going to destroy that tape. But, here’s the cool part. We’re going to redefine a win.

A fitness win is any intentional movement towards fitness. Remember the plan. Start small…think long. Your BIG fitness win is going to be paved with lots and lots of small victories.

We’re going to start by adding 500 steps a day to your average. If that average was 3725 then your daily target is 4225 steps. Resist the temptation to add more than 500. There are going to be days where you’ll reach your target with ease…in fact, you might double it. That’s OK because there will be other days where it’ll take extra effort to reach the target and it’ll feel overwhelming.

But, you won’t quit.

Every day you reach your target is a win. You’re building a chain and each win is a link. After awhile your chain of fitness wins will overtake your chain of fitness failures and that tape in your head will grow quieter by the day.

In Part Two (HERE) we address the question, How long do you keep the same target? The answer may surprise you.

Start Small. Think Long.


If you struggle with making fitness stick you can change that today. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge will help you begin building a fitness habit that creates fitness momentum which eventually leads to fitness transformation.

Walking is fitness hiding in plain sight. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge will help you set the perfect Fitbit goal for you. The Challenge includes a contract you can make with yourself. That might sound cheesy, but having a signed piece of paper is a powerful motivator on those days when you just don’t feel like it.

Every day you reach your Fitbit goal is a win. The 30 Day Fitness Challenge includes a Win Tracker to celebrate your progress every day!

Best of all…The 30 Day Fitness Challenge is free!!


Lastly, this blog is designed to help you embrace walking as a fitness activity. It’s sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions to Win at Fitness.

If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone…to the right and above on your computer) you’ll receive an email with a link to each new blog post.




  1. […] If you have struggled to win at fitness, you can make 2019 the year you turn that around. Those same physical and emotional benefits (including a few smiles) are waiting for you. Last week I started a five part series that will give you a plan to Win at Fitness through walking. You can read Part One HERE. […]

  2. […] The first part is all about how we start our journey to fitness. We are often motivated by the desire to get healthier and stronger. We’re feeling the emotional fuel and we start BIG. Sadly, that’s the worst thing you can do because it’s just not sustainable after the emotions fade. So, Part One makes the argument that we need to Start Small. You can read the entire article HERE. […]

  3. […] The goal in the beginning is to establish the habit. You want a target that is challenging, but not overwhelming. This is hard to do when you want transformation NOW. The best gift you can give yourself is to start small. I recently wrote an article with specific advice about how to choose the right daily step target that will set you up for long term success. You can read that HERE. […]

  4. […] Here’s the thing…for any fitness activity to last you MUST start small. That includes the daily goal you want to see on your Fitbit. The real goal at the beginning is to establish the habit. And, for that to happen the goal must be small. It won’t stay there forever, but for at least 90 days. If a goal that was too high crushed your Fitbit joy would you consider a restart? For more about how to set the proper goal click HERE […]

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