We’re told to focus on the small changes and be proud of the small changes, but these are so difficult to really, truly appreciate. So before I dig into the “how” to celebrate small changes, let’s start with the “why”- why do we need to focus on small changes?
The first issue is that “small changes” don’t feel significant enough to make an impact. Right?
Weight-loss truly is a result of a series of small changes, a series of healthy decisions made over and over and over again.
As much as we’d like it to happen, we don’t get results from eating a salad for lunch just once or running that 10k just once! We know this, ok we painfully know this to be true BUT I’ve been there and it can be difficult to put so much faith in these small changes when our human nature is to do something drastic- especially if we want drastic results.
You don’t need to overhaul your life and take drastic action to see drastic change.
You simply need to start today and keep it simple. We overcomplicate things – the diet industry helps us do this and a part of us may think that if something is so complicated maybe that is the reason I’m failing at it? If it truly is simple, then there really is no excuse for not doing it, other than I don’t want to… Small changes lead to success.
Here’s a real life example:
- Carol lost 22 pounds from making 2 changes 1) going for a walk at lunch and 2) drinking 1L (33 ounces) of water in the morning before eating anything
Unfortunately, Carol’s willingness to start small is NOT the norm, especially among professional women (YOU). There’s something about starting small, letting things be easy that just doesn’t sit well with us. It could also have a lot to do with that $55 billion weight-loss industry that wants us to believe changing our body is difficult and that losing weight requires purchase after purchase. This marketing works, it fools is into thinking we need to take drastic change in order to lose weight.
Here’s another real-life example:
- Jess finished watching that compelling food documentary on Netflix and immediately swore off eating meat and dairy and sugar and gluten. She was motivated and high on the idea of what this drastic change would do to her life (and really she also wanted to see what it would do to her weight). She threw out every animal product in her kitchen, fed her bread to the birds and spent $300 on vegan condiments, snacks, and ingredients. After 1 week and 1 ridiculously late night at the office, she petered out and devoured a beef burrito, and felt like a failure. She spent weeks with a “healthy food hangover” and the notion that it’s impossible to eat healthy.
If Jess sounds like someone you know 😉 then you know how it feels! If you have to white knuckle your way through the change, then it’s too drastic and just like Jess you won’t be able to keep it up.
Small changes work. Period.
Now that we’re all on the same page: small changes DO in fact lead to drastic results –
The next issue is that small changes often don’t feel “big enough” to celebrate.
It’s difficult to get excited about drinking an extra glass of water each day because it’s generally easy to keep that up. Who wants to celebrate something that’s easy? Isn’t that a little pathetic?
Here is my workaround to celebrating the small things – celebrate a bunch of the small changes. You don’t have to give yourself a pat on the back every time you take a sip of water, BUT it’s important to recognize when you’ve had 5 days in a row or a couple weeks of sticking to that small change. Sticking to that small change for 2 weeks is a bigger win than drastically swearing off a type of food for a week and then rebounding.
And in order for you to see how much progress you’ve made, you must track it. You can track it with a tally mark on your calendar, or go old school like I did and create a spreadsheet with columns for each day and rows for my goals. If you prefer paperless use an app like HabitBull or DONE. Make it pretty if you need to, just keep it simple.
Think about 1 small change you can make that you KNOW would be realistic for you to maintain. This change could be drinking water first thing in the morning, OR leaving work once a week at a decent time, or eating a serving of greens as your first meal of the day. There are so many options! So make that selection and develop mastery with drinking that water, or getting out of the office before dark, or eating greens for breakfast, etc.- whatever you choose.
Your only rules are to select 1-2 small changes and start today! Track yourself for 2 weeks before adding in anything new. Remember, we tend to overcomplicate things so keep it simple. What small change will you make?