Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Small changes: one degree shifts

I just wrote a very long (and, if I do say so myself) quite profound post.  And then I lost it.  I will attempt to recreate it, but I'm not sure I can do it justice.  (Sad!)

Last week, while driving on a long, boring road, I drifted to the left side of the lane and encountered the "rumble strip", or as we call it, the "drunk bumps".  The vibration and noise startled me and I jerked the wheel to the right.   I over corrected. Pull to the left. Pull to the right.  Fishtail.  Panic. You get the picture.  It seemed to last a long time, but eventually I regained control of the car.

I was thankful for several things:

  • Even though traffic had been pretty steady, there were no cars near me when I was bouncing back and forth between the lanes.
  • My husband (who later admitted he was quite scared) remained calm and spoke calm words to guide me back to the center of my lane.
  • I remained calm. I am not known for grace under fire.  I was scared, but I listened to the calm voice of a more experienced driver (and then I turned the wheel over to him 3 miles later at the next exit!!)
This reminded me of a story I heard regarding overcorrecting our marriages. (John Trent: Course Correction).  He had a similar story (but he rolled his car).  He went on to talk about how so often when there is trouble in a marriage, we tend to overcorrect and want to do a 180 degree turn.  But really, what we need, it so to make a 2 degree change.  Take small steps.  If I had turned my wheel just 2 degrees, I would have returned to my lane the first time.

Again, my thought train went to my journey to healthy.  In the past, I would start a new "diet" or "lifestyle change" or whatever buzzword I was using at the time.  I would make drastic changes: no carbs, no fat, only pickles (okay...I didn't do that one!), etc.  Sometimes, I had "good" results, but the results were not lasting because I couldn't keep holding on to the wheel in that awkward position.  Eventually, I spun out of control and ditched the diet.

This time, I decided to do things differently.  I started out walking.  I walked 50 miles one month, and then I decided to start running. I didn't start with a 5K.  In fact, I started with 60 seconds runs (that I thought would kill me!!)  Eventually, I was running 5 minutes, 8 minutes, 20 minutes.  One day I ran 5K (3.1 miles).  And then I did it again.  Faster.  And I took 15 minutes off my original time.  I still have small changes to make to be a faster runner or a longer distance runner.  But if I decided to train for a longer race, I will start with small changes.

When I first started, I realized that I was not ready to deal with caffeine withdrawal as I was starting my new exercise routines.  So I kept drinking my Pepsi.  After a while, I put it aside to see if I could. I did---for 6 weeks---but I wasn't quite "over" it.  And I had trouble limiting my intake.  I made the calculated decision to switch to Diet Coke.  (I know it has bad stuff in it. So does Pepsi---which also has calories.  I made this decision with the help of my medical team.)  I drive a car without air conditioning, and I live in the desert.  At this point, I am not ready to give up sodas completely.  My plan is to take some baby steps in the fall and wean myself completely from sodas.

I found this website with a list of what 1 degree course correction looks like.  I don't know if the numbers are accurate, but you get the idea.

Consider this. If you're going somewhere and you're off course by just one degree, after one foot, you'll miss your target by 0.2 inches. Trivial, right? But what about as you get farther out?
  • After 100 yards, you'll be off by 5.2 feet. Not huge, but noticeable.
  • After a mile, you'll be off by 92.2 feet. One degree is starting to make a difference.
  • After traveling from San Francisco to L.A., you'll be off by 6 miles.
  • If you were trying to get from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., you'd end up on the other side of Baltimore, 42.6 miles away.
  • Traveling around the globe from Washington, DC, you'd miss by 435 miles and end up in Boston.
  • In a rocket going to the moon, you'd be 4,169 miles off (nearly twice the diameter of the moon).
  • Going to the sun, you'd miss by over 1.6 million miles (nearly twice the diameter of the sun).
  • Traveling to the nearest star, you'd be off course by over 441 billion miles (120 times the distance from the earth to Pluto, or 4,745 times the distance from Earth to the sun).
Over time, a mere one-degree error in course makes a huge difference!

What one or two degree changes do you need to make?

Joining up with Motivation Monday:

Wendy @ Daily Dose of Del Signore
Veronica @ V Watts' Thoughts
Morgan @ Fat to Fit Confessions
Tiff @ The Fit Train
Katie @ The Carb Monster
Alisha @ Coily Locks

Mama B at Mama's Losing It linked up with us last week and I loved seeing her amazing progress! 
A year can seem like such a long amount of time, but it's definitely worth putting that time in if you can look like that, right??? Girl, you are so awesome! 


  1. Interesting twist on an old concept. Baby steps will get you there :)

  2. Thank you for this! I made some of those 1 degree turns and then found myself a few miles left on center. I now realize that I have been over correcting and resulting in fish tailing. 1 degree turns makes a ton of sense...and like jillconyers above, I appreciate the twist on an old concept.

  3. Great post! So glad you are both ok and we had something just as scary happen when an idiot 18-wheeler driver cut us off and we were in a ford expedition and I just knew we were going to roll over when my mom had to swerve! Phew! Love the concepts too!

  4. Hi! New follower! EXCELLENT post! :)

  5. I'm playing catch-up with blog posts, but I couldn't resist jumping in (late) to let you know how much I enjoyed this! (You know I'm all over the small changes!)

    Taking the degree analogy a slightly different direction, there's a great video out there titled '212 Degrees', based on this concept:
    "At 211° water is hot. At 212°, it boils.
    And with boiling water, comes steam.
    And steam can power a locomotive.
    The one extra degree makes the difference."

    I needed to think about that 1 degree today, so maybe it's a good thing I'm behind on reading. :) Thank you for having the reminder here when I needed it!


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