Fifteen minutes might not sound like much, but it’s exactly what Amanda Dittlinger needed to transform her life.
“I was in a lot of pain with lower back pain and plantar fasciitis,” Dittlinger says. “I knew I needed to change, but my fitness level was so slow. I couldn’t even go out for walks.”
She had always liked yoga and had the app Down Dog on her phone, so she decided to open it up and set a small, realistic goal: 15 minutes of restorative yoga, every day for a week. Dittlinger felt like this was something she could easily accomplish, and was curious if she would feel any different in that short amount of time. At the end of the week, she felt good: stronger, happier, accomplished. So she decided to add another week, then another, and another.
Today, she’s done over 500 days in a row of yoga. She’s down six sizes, more than 65 pounds, and most important of all, she’s pain-free.
Keep reading for learn how you can follow her lead.
Don’t Break the Streak
When Dittlinger first started her journey, she was able to get herself on the mat every day using one simple mantra: Don’t break the streak. This is the same approach she used when she decided to give up soda five years earlier. She got herself a simple journal chart and colored in little squares for each day that she practiced yoga.
“It was so good to see the chart filling out,” Dittlinger says. “Early on I thought to myself — I think I could do this for a year. I can always find at least 15 minutes a day. And then I just decided to commit to it. This was huge for me.”
The only rule Amanda gave herself was to commit to a minimum of 15 minutes every single day. As time went on, she soon found herself wanting to do 20 minutes, 40 minutes, and eventually an hour. No matter what, she makes it a priority. She’s done yoga while traveling, camping, and even in the forest. Once she started building it into her daily habit, it became something she actually looked forward to.
“It’s part of my day,” she says. “I wouldn’t go a day without eating or drinking water. And now I can’t not do my yoga.”
Dittlinger says people often ask her how she stays motivated day after day, and she claims it’s actually not about motivation for her.
“There’s such a huge difference between motivation and commitment,” she says. “Motivation is a good feeling. It comes and goes. You have a feeling and then it’s gone. But commitment is a promise you make to yourself.”
She explains further, saying that it’s easy to see an inspirational story and develop that warm, fuzzy feeling. It inspires and motivates in the moment. But then it fades. It doesn’t stick with you.
“You can’t rely on that feeling to get you on your mat,” Dittlinger says. “You have to find your reason to commit — and it has to be for you.”
Doing a yearlong challenge was never about losing a bunch of weight, though it ended up being an added bonus. Dittlinger first wanted to get out of the pain that she was constantly feeling.
“It’s been a slow process,” Dittlinger says. “But now I am happy to say my pain is pretty much gone. And I’ve got so much more energy and flexibility that I used to. Even being able to bend down and pick up stuff and have movement without it being an ordeal is life changing.”
Back in the Game at 40
Dittlinger took on this challenge right around the time she turned 40. As a mother of twin girls who are now teenagers, she finally feels like she’s a positive role model for her kids.
“They’ve always been an inpsiration to me because they do Tae Kwon Do and have almost earned their black belts,” she says. “It’s so different than when I used to sit around doing nothing. Now my girls see me as active and fit. And I have confidence in my body. It feels amazing.”
Dittlinger doesn’t follow a specific diet or count a lot of calories. Mostly, she just tries to eat healthy, whole foods meals. But she’s made incredible progress by often asking herself the question, “What would a fit person do?”
One of Dittlinger’s current yoga goals is to get to a place where she can do a handstand, which is something she never would’ve thought possible a few years ago.
“I’ve struggled with health and wellness my whole life. I never saw myself as someone who could be fit,” she says. “And I realized this was something I made up in my head. I decided to change my story, and pretty soon I started to tell myself that I am a fit person, too.”
For Dittlinger, yoga isn’t just a workout or something she does to burn calories. She also loves it for the healthy mind aspects, allowing herself to take time for her and supporting good mental health. Fifteen minutes might not be much, but over the course of a year, it gave her back so much more.
“It was a commitment to myself, and I did it,” Dittlinger says. “There were days I didn’t want to get on the mat. But all in all, there were never days I regretted getting on my mat.”