The Heap Fallacy


Remember the story about the old man walking down the shoreline throwing starfish into the sea?  The moral of the story being that although he can’t save all of them, his actions make a difference to each individual starfish that he is able to toss back into the ocean.  This is an example of the heap fallacy, which is a type of flawed logic illustrated by the idea that adding one grain of sand to an entire pile doesn’t matter. And yes, this does apply to fitness.

How many times have you said to yourself, “just one bite won’t hurt” or “missing one workout won’t make a difference”?  Well at what point do all those little bites or missed workouts matter?   The answer is that they all make a difference.  

While it’s obviously okay to have a treat once in awhile or take a rest day when you need one, your actions do matter and they do add up.  Your current level of fitness is the product of the work you’ve been doing (or not doing) in the gym (and outside!) and the food you’ve been putting in your body – it didn’t just happen.  Mind you, genetics can help or hinder you, but my point is that wherever you are in your fitness journey, the actions you take (or don’t take) today will determine where you end up tomorrow.

Want to run a 5k or a marathon?  Want to lose body fat and fit into your jeans again?  Then make a move! Turn off your computer, head outside and do something!  Fitness isn’t something that you can buy or get through osmosis, it’s something you develop through doing.  Though it may seem like going for a little walk around the block or eating more vegetables isn’t enough, all the little changes you make add up.  

I see this all the time as a rehab nurse. It is not uncommon to see 90 year old patients who cannot even sit on the side of their bed when they come in be able to walk laps around the unit by the time they are ready to leave!  Improvement happens literally one step at a time, but every step is a step in the right direction. If they can improve their strength and fitness after breaking hips and going through major surgery when they are 90, what’s stopping you?  

Have a terrific Sunday and get moving! 

~Live Inspired~!




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