ó Stand at the edge of the ocean or of a dream, and where
youíre going can look pretty far away. Ah, to be there
already ó quickly, easily, hardly breaking a sweat in the
thatís not how most dreams are realized. Instead, itís the
small steps that get us there. You cannot, after all, lose 100
pounds without losing one; run a marathon without running a
mile; heal an injury without moving the smallest of muscles.
have to understand thatís how life works," says
Danielle Girdano, president of Dífine Sculpting &
Nutrition. "Itís not like in the movies where one
motivational song later, you hit your goal. It is a journey
and takes a lot of steps to get there."
years ago, Girdano weighed 396 pounds. Her body fat hovered
around 67 percent. She smoked two-and-a-half packs of
cigarettes a day. She was 29 years old, and a doctorís visit
scared her into changing her life. She began walking because,
she says, "it was all I could do."
weighs 168 pounds and is a personal trainer who helps other
people take their first and second and maybe come at least
close to that 10,000th step every day.
will drink this supplement or take that pill and want change
instantaneously," she says. "With small steps, thereís
clients come to health coach and certified trainer Julie
Gannon with "the big goal," she commends them for
looking ahead. Then she asks what the first step might be to
reaching it. The key, says Gannon, who recently moved to San
Antonio from Dallas, is setting smart goals that are
measurable, attainable and realistic. Be consistent with the
small steps, she stresses, and "youíll eventually get
people being people, and residents of a quick-fix society at
that, theyíre not always content with such a simplistic
approach. What about everything else?, they ask Gannon. What
do they need to start or stop or eliminate or put on hold?
important to have success when you first start and then
continue to build," she says. "Itís motivating:
ĎHey, I did that and I can do it again.í
you try to tackle the mountain all at once, you wonít be
successful. But tackling the first thing and getting over the
hurdle makes the second a little easier."
group of women told Gannon of their four-month goal of walking
a 5K, for instance, she asked, "What do we need to get
there?" They began walking for 10 minutes a day, then
incorporating more movement into their days. Gannon also set
another goal, albeit a difficult one: eliminating sugar.
a big first step, but only one step at a time," she says.
"If you can cut that out, it reduces your craving for
starchy things and sugary things."
few weeks working toward that goal, she had them add another:
eating a vegetable with every meal. Six months into their
journey and with the 5K behind them, the women "look back
and there are things they do now they never could have
week, one came in and announced, "On Saturday, I had
cake, and it was way too sweet."
laughing at themselves," Gannon says. "ĎI canít
believe I thought something was too sweet. I used to be made
makes small steps so powerful, Girdano says, is that nobody
can take them for you. "You have to take the stairs and
climb every step. What they do for you is give you those
little confidence nudges."
steps are especially imperative because they allow the body to
heal, which physical therapists continually stress to their
was just explaining to a pilot who had rotator-cuff surgery
about the baby steps that begin with barely moving his
arms," says Terry Robinson, an athletic trainer and
physical therapist. "Itís easily going to be an 8- to
who owns Grapevine Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine, in
suburban Dallas, is also part of the athletic training staff
for USA Diving. He works not only with divers, but with other
athletes, too ó not necessarily their individual form, but
breaking down the movements.
youíre injured, your muscle tightens, your joint
tightens," he says. "You regain flexibility of the
joints and work on strength. In divers, itís the normal
arm-down position and the sports-specific position."
muscles attach to the shoulder blade, he says. Four make up
the rotator cuff, which primarily functions to stabilize the
thing we might do in therapy is isolate those small muscles
before we can expect the larger to get stronger. Itís easy
for us to say weíre going to strengthen the bicep and
deltoid, but those are larger muscles."
diver, small stabilizing muscles help keep the shoulder
together, he says, and thus help at that crucial point of
impact ó hitting the water.
are a lot of very specific exercises to train the smaller
muscles at the shoulder blade to make the others
stronger," he says. "If I explain to the athletes
real well what the purpose of small, basic exercises are and
how they fit into the big picture, thatís making Part A as
important as Part Z."
experienced an athlete, the more the appreciation for small
steps, Robinson says.
at the Olympic level are different from high school or
college," he says. "Theyíve worked for maybe eight
years to be at the Games and know those small steps ó every
single piece of food put into their mouth, every training
session, every supplement they take ó all adds up."
makes these small steps especially powerful, Gannon says, is
that they can be applied to just about any goal set, any dream
things donít seem impossible for you anymore," she
says. "It becomes, ĎOh, yeah, Iíve got this.í"