How to eat an elephant (aka the power of 5 minutes)

By: Blogger

Jane Le Guay
Health Team Leader
Sport Bay of Plenty

At the moment you don’t have to look too hard to find a motivational snippet in the paper or online about the joys of spring and getting active and healthy. But how to we find that sustainable motivation? Our Health Team Leader provides some tips.

It’s a a beautiful time of year - the birds are chirping, the sun is out and the days are longer. Across the Bay of Plenty people are getting out there walking, cycling and generally just making the most of the change of seasons.


For some spring is a time for evaluation: A marker where you decide enough is enough. The weight has just been creeping on and on, or maybe you want to recommit to that New Year’s resolution that you were only able to stick to for a few weeks (apparently 80% of resolutions fail by February). How do you make the dream reality?

We’ve all got those stories of time we started on our road to fitness. We started with a two hour walk, or went to the gym and did the routine we did a few years back but then we couldn’t move the next day and gave the next session a miss. Or perhaps you wrote out the plan to go for a run at 6am three times in a week, but only managed to do it two times.

What can sound like modest goals, can actually be big and scary. Often people set a plan that is just big enough that excuses are easy to make. We’re kind of tired, so we’ll go to the gym tomorrow, or we don’t have time go for a walk this morning. It is easy to give your future-self credit.

Sport Bay of Plenty’s Green Prescription team run a six-month, healthy lifestyle starter programme. We work alongside people to develop a healthy lifestyle by increasing their physical activity and making healthy food choices. A key element of success is to work out an achievable plan. As part of the programme advisors provide on-going support through resources, tips, and expertise all focused on supporting people to achieve their health goals.


We find that a key starting point is to commit to the action in the first instance. Build the habit first. Set a ridiculously modest goal. This is something we continually practice with our Green Prescription clients.

Gary’s plan involved committing to walking to his letterbox twice a day every day. Rachel plans to go to the gym three times a week for 15 minutes each time. Setting a small but easily achievable goal works because you will feel ridiculous if you make an excuse.

Something happens as you start to build your ridiculously easy habit - you begin to feel good about it. When you feel good about it, you start to enjoy it. When you enjoy it, it’s easy to do. Once you’ve finished a week, you may decide to do a month of the same. Keep your ridiculously modest goal and don’t add to it until the habit has been built. When you are ready, turn your five minutes into ten minutes and so on, and you will be amazed how far you can go.

The outcome of your future is hidden in your daily routine.

To find out more about the Green Prescription programme, have a look at our website and talk to your GP or Practice Nurse, or give us a call at Sport Bay of Plenty.