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Dominoes, Habits, and Your Personal Fitness

Dominoes, Habits, and Your Personal Fitness

Did you know it only takes 29 dominoes to knock over the Empire State Building?

No, really.

If you line up dominoes in a row where the next one is much bigger than the last, but just big enough to be knocked over, it only takes 29 dominoes before a domino as big as the Empire State Building can be knocked over.

Why is this important to you?

We can use a similar principle and a few key properties of building habits to ensure we stay on our fitness routine.

See, most of us have this big hairy audacious fitness goal like losing 20 pounds or running a marathon.

Our ‘Empire State Building’.

But we take different normal sized dominoes (working out a few days a week, eating a few more salads) and throw them up against it expecting to knock it down.

We hear the occasional clank of the needle moving slightly and think we’re making progress, but our ‘Empire State Building’ is no closer to being knocked over than when we initially started.

The problem is that we aren’t using the momentum of small dominoes falling to knock over the next larger domino.

The most effective way to do this is ‘stack’ healthy habits on to one another.

This is a method conveniently called habit stacking.

The idea is that it’s much easier to stack a new habit onto a habit you already have.

So, you might stack stretching on top of working out.

Every time you work out, you stretch afterwards.

Then you might stack eating a healthy meal on top of stretching.

So, the ‘habit stack’ becomes working out -> stretching -> eating a healthy meal.

This sounds all well and good in theory but putting it into practice is a little more difficult. 

The key is to make your first domino as accessible and attainable as possible.

It needs to be easy enough to require very little momentum to knock over and begin toppling larger dominoes.

The best first domino for fitness I’ve found is writing in my fitness journal.

(Granted, I’m definitely a little biased because I sell fitness journals on this site, but if you try this on your own paper or make your own journal to sell and it helps you, I’m happy.)

Before working out, I write down my goals and a reason I’m working out that day. Then I crush my workout, track it, and celebrate the wins and practice gratitude in the journal afterwards. 

From there I feel like it’s very easy to crush my day, maintain healthy habits, and continue knocking over my dominoes.

The cool part about this journaling habit that I use to start the toppling of my dominoes is that it works really well on days when I don’t feel like working out. 

Because I’ve associated working out with writing in my fitness journal, every time I don’t feel like going to the gym, all I have to do is write in my journal, and suddenly I get the fitness urge. 

My first domino is easy to tip at any time AND it makes those larger dominoes down the line more appealing on days when they seem insurmountable.

This is most apparent when I’ve slipped off track after coming back from a vacation and don’t feel like getting back into it at all.

All I have to do is get my journal out.

Try writing in a fitness journal or find your own ‘first’ domino to help you make working out a better habit.

Either way, your Empire State Building will become much easier to knock over.


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