The 15-minute Rule. It works even if you feel bad when you start.

The 15-minute rule isn’t really about the 15th minute.

It’s about the first 0:01 second.

If you can’t even fathom taking care of yourself for 15 minutes, think of doing it for one second. Just start. Good things start to happen after that first 0:01 second. Promise. (Image courtesy of digital art at

This is the promised second half of “The 15-minute Rule” post from, oh, a couple of weeks ago now. Yep. You read it right here. We have good intentions. Then, life intervenes. The Cliffs Notes version (that’s what we used to use before we had the Internet to summarize the plots of ridiculously long books in 11th-grade lit class) of what’s been going on: I had two good weeks of some solid exercise, nutrition, and actual weight loss (after more than six months on the “ten pounds to go” postpartum plateau).

Then there was a “maintenance” week (in other words, some not-as-good nutrition and not-as-good exercise, but no major damage done). Now, we’re back in business. It’s been a mishmash of a sick child, another family member that needed rides to and from doctors and such things, deadlines for the Work That Pays The Bills, and needing to sleep.

Oh, and sometimes forgetting the awesomeness of the 15-minute Rule.

The 15-minute Rule Says One Thing: Get Started.

It’s simple. Just get started, and do it for 15 minutes. Whatever “it” happens to be. Just start. Just get to the first 0:01. The first second of actual effort and doing-it-ness. That leads to the next second. That leads to the first minute. Somewhere in there, you’re suddenly getting your thing done, whatever the thing happens to be.

The truth of this “getting started” idea is that it doesn’t matter, at all, whether you feel good, excited, positive, revved-up, or otherwise happy in the moment before that first 0:01 second. It just does not affect the outcome of that 15 minutes at all. Totally irrelevant. Especially if the thing you’re wanting to do involves going from a closed space (like, a dark closet) to outdoors (where natural light works some serious magic, even up here in ol’ Seattle where we get less sunlight in the winter than anywhere in the lower 48. True story.). You will feel better very soon. Much sooner than if you hang out thinking about starting, without actually starting.

You just start. Start. Do something. If you want to eat something not-great for you and it’s not in your plan today (you do plan your meals in advance so that you’re not left grabbing at the end of the day for whatever’s in the fridge, right?), do something else besides staring at said fridge for those 15 minutes. A bath. Situps. Listen to music. Step away from the problem. Get going on the first second of 15 minutes of something else. Something good for you.

Make a list of the “something else’s” that you can do for 15 minutes.

What are my “something else’s” that I can do for 15 minutes when my son is finally asleep and I’m drop-dead exhausted and all I want to do is read the news? (Which, these days, is guaranteed to make us think the world’s end is on our doorstep, so we better enjoy that cookie in the pantry right now!…) Let’s see…how about a few of these?

  • Watch a funny video on YouTube (favorite comics: Maz Jobrani, Paula Poundstone, Tig Notaro)
  • Put on music and dance (Lady Gaga, anyone?)
  • Watch a badass video (Ironman Triathlon world championships comes to mind)
  • Go for a walk (grab flashlight and reflective clothing in the dark)
  • Organize a clothing drawer (yep, I’m on the Marie Kondo bandwagon…folding is fun!)
  • Organize a pile of papers in my office (I’m in the middle of a massive get-rid-of-old-papers project—shredding is fun!)

See? That’s not so hard, right? So, get your “something else” list together for the times when you need to use the 15-minute rule to not do something that isn’t helpful for your health…and remember to just do it for one second. And then one more. And finally, hey, you look at the clock and say “Wow, I’ve only been doing this for 14 minutes…and I have a whole blog post done!” That’s me, today. Where are you? And more importantly, where are you going?

Recent workouts: Finally got over the mental hump of realizing that I really do have to get back to more intense workouts in order to drop the 10 pounds that are standing between me and being my best postpartum runner/mommy self. I was able to run three times two weeks ago: a distance run, a speed session, and a tempo run. Then last week, only a long run, but a good one: 75 minutes, slow and steady, all running, no walk breaks (even up the BIG HONKING HILL to our house from my normal running route). Yesterday, after a week of only walking, back to business with a 45-minute indoor bike ride. Weight down 3.8 pounds in the past three weeks. Progress!


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