Losing weight doesn’t have to be as complicated or painful as people make it out to be! One small change at a time can change your life.
As soon as people find out I’ve lost 100 pounds, their next question is always, “How did you do it?” I know the answers they are expecting. They want me to sing praises to a specific meal plan or exercise program or miracle shake. They want a simple, straight-forward, easy-to-follow formula that they can replicate in their own lives to drop pounds.
It just wasn’t that simple!
For years, I stuttered and stumbled over what answer to give. The problem was, there were hundreds of things that contributed to my weight loss! It was obviously a question people were dying to know the answer to. I just didn’t know how to abbreviate it all down into a simple and concise answer!
Now, I have the answer down pat. Sure, as a certified health coach and personal trainer (who thought I’d ever be saying that sentence? Not me!), I could list off tons of diet and exercise suggestions. I could tell you the recommended amount of exercise you could be getting and send you to Choose MyPlate for national food guidelines…but if that were the answer to our obesity epidemic, it would have been resolved years ago.
My solution for weight loss?
One Small Change
It seems like everyone out there wants to convince you to change your entire life overnight.
Today, you’re a couch potato, but tomorrow you could be running 5 miles, just push yourself! You may love junk food now, but the solution is to just clean out your pantry and fill it with organic vegetables instead!
Maybe that works for some people, but it sure didn’t work for me (and, believe me, I tried a lot of them!).
You know what did work? Changing one small thing at a time.
- Having a glass of water before I drank a can of soda.
- Taking the dog for a 10-minute walk after work.
- Making sure there was at least one vegetable in my dinner.
- Packing an apple for a snack.
And every small change I made paved the way for more and more healthy choices. When I exercised, I drank more water. When I ate more vegetables, I ate less junk food. When I ate less junk food, I had more energy to get up and move.
It was this wonderful snowball effect that eventually added up to losing 100 pounds. Because the changes were gradual, I was able to keep them going and now it doesn’t feel like work to keep the weight off because I built a healthy lifestyle that I love brick by brick, one small change at a time.
The Keys to Making It Work
Yo-yo dieting is all about jumping to the extremes. You’re either all in or you’re all out. It’s all black and white, no gray area in between.
I happen to be a big fan of that gray area.
Making one small change is like moving the rudder on a ship. Shifting it just one millimeter changes your end destination by hundreds of miles.
I don’t forbid myself from eating certain foods, I don’t count calories, and I don’t spend half of my life at the gym. Obviously, if you make one small change and then stop, it’s not going to be very effective in helping you lose weight or change your life. They are pretty darn simple, but here’s how to make them work.
Don’t start out by tackling the thing you hate most.
I started with doing parts of workout videos in my living room (because I couldn’t do the whole thing and I was too embarrassed to go to the gym).
Eventually, I worked up to doing the elliptical machines at the gym in the “cardio cinema” so that I could watch movies in a big dark room full of equipment. There were a whole lot of small steps in between, but now I run outside regularly, in public, with my head held high.
Do you have one vegetable that you actually enjoy eating? Start by building that one into your meal plans in different ways. Mine was zucchini and I sauteed it, roasted it, shredded it, and put it in everything from meatloaf to spaghetti sauce. Now, I eat just about every veggie out there and I genuinely love them!
You already know the things in your life you want to change. So, instead of setting lofty goals, what is one little thing you could change today?
If you can do it once, you can do it again…and again…and again. It is so much better to go on 10-minute walks consistently a few times a week than to kill yourself in an hour-long workout that you never want to do again.
When you can do that one small thing regularly, ask yourself for a little bit more. Then a little bit more. Every time you make one small change, you are setting a goal for yourself that you can actually reach. Every time you accomplish those little things, you are building your confidence, proving to yourself that you can do more.
It starts with one small thing and then builds and builds until you practically trick yourself into making these huge transformations! It doesn’t take a ton of your time or your willpower or put you in extreme deprivation to make it happen – it’s just one small change.
Cater Them to Your Life
The comparison trap can be pretty nasty, especially when it comes to health. You have that friend who can eat a whole pizza in one sitting and never gain an ounce. You know that girl who can run 5 miles and call if her “warm up.” If only you could be like them, this wouldn’t be so hard!
Comparing gets you nowhere in changing your life for the better! Instead, look at your life as it is right now. That’s the beauty of one small change!
You get to design a life that you are madly in love with living.
Look at your schedule, your energy, your preferences, and your support system. Look at ways you can combine your priorities to make them work for you.
My best friend and I have phone dates where we both walk our dogs while we talk. That means I get quality friend time in with exercise at the same time. Do you absolutely love watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix? Put it on while you walk in place or pedal on your recumbent bike. Do you love Nutty Bars? Plan them into your eating as your treats a few times a week (you are less likely to binge that way).
Choose things in such a way that you build a healthy life that you actually want to live long-term.
There will always be reasons to put off making healthier choices. You want to wait until the NewYear. You want to just get through the holidays first. You can’t start now because you are going on vacation next week and you want to indulge in all the deliciousness. You are really stressed with your new job, so you should probably wait until things calm down.
One small change is an excuse destroyer.
It doesn’t take major planning, prep work, equipment, or special ingredients. You don’t need to make endless lists, spreadsheets, meal plans, and workout schedules. You could plan to your heart’s content, but planning alone doesn’t change your life.
Look at what you have available, think of something you can do right now, and do it.
Action changes good intentions to success.
Need more ideas for small changes? I put together 101 suggestions for you! You can download it here.