Wellness Words Book 1: The Slight Edge (Book Discussion Chapters 1-4)

If you are looking for a bit of inspiration to help you on your journey, welcome to our first addition of the Wellness Words Book Club!  Prior to reading this post it would be beneficial for you to pick up a copy of The Slight Edge, by Jeff Olson.  This first discussion is for all of my clients following along and for anyone on the inter-web looking for a bit of motivation and focus on their health journey.  If you feel like this could be helpful to you, read Chapters 1-4 and follow the discussion below.  For current in person and online clients, head on over to my Wellness Words Forum and register to take part in the conversation.  Without further ado I give you the first 4 chapter discussion of our very first book…

Wellness Words Book 1

The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson


Week 1 Discussion


In the introduction of The Slight Edge we are told abut the shoe shine woman wishing she could afford to send her daughter to cheerleading camp.  She is used as an example of someone that could have a better life and give her daughter the things she needed if she understood the slight edge.  With so much information available on how to live your “best” life why isn’t she succeeding?  The author contemplates how different her life would be if she only knew the theory of the slight edge and put it into practice.  He then explains that the slight edge is not about availability of information but rather how to use that information to develop success.  

There are hundreds of 1000’s of health books on how to get fit, lose weight, and achieve the healthy body you desire but we live in a country with 75% of the population obese or overweight, 100 million pre-diabetic or diabetic,  and 610,00 dying of heart disease every year.  So if everyone knows how to lose weight and stay healthy then why aren’t we all healthy?  What is preventing us from putting this information into practice?  Could it be the slight edge?  

He tells the story of the frog that chooses not to give up and eventually churns the cream into butter to save his life and of the water hyacinth as an understanding of compound interest.   He then tells the parable of the dying man and his two sons and their choice between an immediate $1 million dollars and 1 penny.  The first son loses all his money and the 2nd son chooses the penny doubled.  The 2nd son becomes rich because he has “learned habits of thought and action that will allow him to choose the penny doubled every time”.

Question 1

How can you create habits of thought and action that will allow you to choose the penny doubled every time?  When we think about our health, weight, nutrition, etc., how can we create thoughts and actions that will allow us to make decisions that double our health, life expectancy, weight loss, etc., every time?  What are some thoughts and actions that you can think of in your own life that would help you achieve success and improved health?

Chapter 1

In chapter 1 the author discusses how there are no secrets to health, weight loss or living a better life.  The secret ingredient is to change the way you think (your philosophy). It’s attitudes behind actions that matter and you need to understand these attitudes. He gives the following equation:

Philosophy + Attitude + Actions = Results = Lifestyle

Question 2

When you make a decision to eat healthier and have a moment of weakness where you allow yourself the doughnut or cake or pasta or bread what is your attitude behind the action of making this decision?  

When you choose to go to the gym and eat veggies and protein only for dinner what are the attitudes behind the actions of this decision?

Can you look back on small unhealthy decisions or small healthy decisions you have made over the past year and see how those compounded over time and manifested in your life?

Chapter 2

In chapter 2 he suggests that successful people do “simple things that are easy to do”.  He poses the thought that although every action is easy to do it is also easy NOT to do.  If you eat the pasta, or skip your workout today, it won’t kill you. Making that choice is more comfortable and easier not to do than choosing the salad or getting 20 minutes of exercise.   It’s relatively easy to eat well but it might be a little bit easier not to eat well.  These little decisions to not eat well add up over time to big things like weight gain and heart disease.  Conversely, skipping the pasta and getting 20 minutes of exercise every day can add up to a healthy body and mind for the rest of your life.  Little things that feel like they make no difference in the short term actually do!

Question 3

What are the little things in your life that you can do to alter the course of your health and give you the slight edge?

Chapter 3

In chapter 3 he discusses the secret of time and says that willpower is overrated.  He says that everyone wants to plant seeds and see a harvest but they aren’t willing to cultivate.  I loved his quote “success is a progressive realization of a worthy ideal”.  His graph of simple disciplines and errors in judgement over time leading to a more positive or negative life made me think of how impactful our choices are.  He says to base your choices on your philosophy and not on what you see. (This reminds me of Janis Newton during HCC saying “walk by faith, not by sight” as a way to encouraging you not to look at the number on the scale as your measurement of health but to trust in the process and your daily decisions.)

Question 4

Are their times when you base choices on what you see instead of what you know? How can you make choices based on what you know and not what you see?

Chapter 4

In chapter 4 he discusses famous figures, Rosa Parks, Stephen King and how they started with a small decision that had a huge impact.  He says you have to do something in order to achieve anything.  He says the critical decisions in life are always the tiny ones which is why so many people miss them.  Do something that makes you feel 1 penny’s worth better or even just .003% better.  If you make this decision after 1 year you will be twice as successful.

Question 5

What can you commit to everyday to make you feel 1 penny’s worth better or even .003% better?  If you did this everyday for 1 year how would you feel and what would this look like in terms of your health at the end of a year?

1 comment

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  1. Susan Wigley

    Once I have made a set of guidelines for myself for healthy eating and amount of exercise, I do find it easy to stick with that. I don’t usually have slip-ups, because I keep the right foods for my plan available and I feel good when I do them. What derails me is when I relax the rules because: (a) “I’m in Spain and may never get another chance to eat that” or (b) We are having a really stressful time right now and my dietary rules don’t really fit what’s available or easy (so enchiladas and a margarita are the best I can do and will momentarily make me feel better). Both of these are failed strategies. It is possible to eat healthy, even in Spain and when under stress, eating healthy would help me cope, whereas margaritas really don’t.

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