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The Life-Changing Power of One Small Change

Weight loss doesn’t have to be as complicated or painful as people make it out to be! One small change at a time helped me lose 100 pounds and 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, straightforward, easy-to-follow formula that they can replicate in their own lives to drop pounds.

Long term weight loss 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.

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!

Until now.

Long term weight loss 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.

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.

So, what was my solution for weight loss? 

Long term weight loss 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.

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! 

Long term weight loss 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.

They get you all hyped up about the fantasy life you could be living “in no time at all” if you just tried their product or just signed up for their program.

Uh…yeah. Right.

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.

Eating more vegetables meant 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 for Long-Term Weight Loss

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.

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.

The tips below are for weight loss in general, but I have a post here with the specific small changes I made to overcome my nighttime snacking here (that was the time of day I struggled most with overeating).

Start Easy

Don’t start out by tackling the thing you hate most.

Long term weight loss 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.

Before I tried running (the former bane of my existence), I had already spent a few years working up the discipline and stamina to exercise semi-regularly.

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?

Make Them Consistent

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.

Long term weight loss 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.

Extreme solutions are just asking for burnout.

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

Long term weight loss 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.

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 it her “warm-up.”

If only you could be like them, this wouldn’t be so hard!

Stop it.

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 (it’s a simple way to control your sugar cravings).

Choose things in such a way that you build a healthy life that you actually want to live long-term.

Start NOW

There will always be reasons to put off making healthier choices. 

You want to wait until the New Year.

You want to just get through the holidays first.

Long term weight loss 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.

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 about 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.

Taking action changes your good intentions to success. 

Come up with a RIGHT NOW plan.

Every single healthy choice you make makes a difference.

Examples Of One Small Change To Lose Weight

Don’t get overwhelmed when you read all of these! Just pick one that resonates with you and start three.

Enjoy Every Bite

I used to be all about eating-all-the-things. Now, I make it my goal to eat the best and leave the rest.

I don’t just eat food because it’s there anymore.

I pick out the best french fries and I leave behind the hard crusty filling-less tortilla pieces on my burrito.

And I can’t even imagine how many calories that one small change has saved me over the years!

Put Food Away

Out of sight, out of mind works really well.

It doesn’t stop every food craving, but think about how many times you’ve just walked by a candy bowl and all of a sudden wanted a piece of candy just because you saw it.

We are visual creatures, so help yourself out by keeping food put away in cabinets so you don’t see it and want a piece every time you walk through your kitchen or living room.

Just Take The First Step

Don’t feel like exercising? Or tracking your food? Or meal planning?

Most people don’t feel like doing it!

Maybe it feels too tiring or overwhelming, but remember, this isn’t all or nothing.

Put on your shoes. Walk out the front door.

Plan just one meal instead of stressing about the whole week.

Just take the first step.

Just Do 10 Minutes

Along the same line as taking the first step, sometimes it helps to set a timer.

I mean, you can do just about anything for 10 minutes!

Set a timer.

Choose One Thing

When it comes to weight loss, it is so easy to feel overwhelmed!

There are so many diets and exercise programs out there to choose from. Everybody claims their diet is the “right” one.

When we are faced with too many options, we often get decision fatigue and decide to do nothing at all!

Your job is just to choose one thing. What’s something that’s helped you lose weight in the past? What are you most curious about?

Don’t try to do-all-the-things. Just choose one and start there.

Find Your Cheerleader

For a long time, I was terrified to tell anyone I was trying to lose weight. I was so embarrassed that I even had weight to lose that I was determined to take care of it myself, behind closed doors.

Please don’t make that mistake!

Find even just one trusted person in your life who you can talk to about your weight loss.

The support, accountability, and encouragement from even just one voice in your life can make all the difference.

You can read more about How To Build A Support System For Weight Loss here.

Eat Treats Regularly

Yup. You read that correctly.

I am the queen of yo-yo dieting. I’ve given up carbs on Atkins, solid food on juicing, and sugar on the Whole30.

Jumping from the extreme of deprivation to the opposite extreme of binging never did me any favors.

I am far less likely to eat an entire bag of cookies when I know I can have another tomorrow.

Try it! Give yourself permission to eat (and enjoy!) treats regularly.

Afraid you’ll go crazy and overeat? Check out this tip I use to help me fit treats into my life responsibly.

Of course, moderation is the key here and you might not have it while you are first trying to break the deprivation cycle, but it’ll come with practice!

Celeste m bell

Wednesday 5th of February 2020

Hi. The one thing that I’ve already done was to walk everyday and when that isn’t an option, to do a 20 min workout for my abilities. My new one thing is that I don’t have to finish everything on my plate. Thanks for your encouragement. To God be the glory.


Wednesday 5th of February 2020

Love your one small changes, Celeste!


Tuesday 15th of May 2018

I just found your blog through Pinterest and I'm SO grateful! I've been feeling frustrated with myself - my weight, my health, how I feel - and like the solution is to completely change my life.

Which is of course so overwhelming. So thank you for the reminder to take things one step at a time. That's really the best way! Thank you for your encouragement and wonderful blog!


Tuesday 15th of May 2018

Hi Kaylee! Oh, I so understand that frustration and overwhelm. I'm so glad the post helped. Thank you so much for your kind words! <3

Lauren C. Moye

Monday 9th of January 2017

This is a great post. I love the steps you used. In fact, I think those very same steps could be used to change any habit.


Wednesday 11th of January 2017

Thanks so much, Lauren! You are so right - these are applicable to just about everything in life!

Marsha Apsley

Monday 9th of January 2017

Great job!!! I coach women on how to live a sustainable and healthy life and you are spot on! It's honoring your unique YOU and knowing and believing that you are fearfully and wonderfully made all along the journey! Love that you're sharing your story the way that you are!


Wednesday 11th of January 2017

Thank you so much, Marsha! Oh man, I'm so glad we have people like you out there coaching women on how to build a sustainable healthy lifestyle! I can only imagine the lives you have changed.


Monday 9th of January 2017

Congratulations on your amazing transformation! This is really great advice!


Wednesday 11th of January 2017

Thank you so much, Jennifer! Sometimes it's surreal looking back over old pictures because I remember exactly how I felt back then, but it feels like it was practically a different life!