Almost daily I talk with people who want to lose weight or improve their health in other ways. They tell me about their major concern and quite often tell me exactly what they can do to make their desired change. I think this is great! I love helping people transform their lives. Then they say something like, “But dieting is so hard,” or something about the time, money, or effort it takes to make improvements. This is the talk of someone who has tried and failed in the past. It’s also an excuse. Is this you?
Change is hard, no doubt. It does take effort and time and whole foods cost more than processed foods, it’s true. But you don’t have to do everything all at once. The last time you started a diet and exercise program, did you go out and buy all of the produce, do your prepping, throw yourself at an exercise program, and get burned out or injured in the first week? You’re not alone. The good news is every Herculean task can be broken up into bite-sized pieces so that it is easier to swallow. Take your time. Take it slow. You don’t have to get to Shaun T status overnight to be successful. I didn’t get to where I am in a week. Just take the first step. Celebrate every small improvement and move on. Then you won’t get overwhelmed. Your bar moves up with you so each new goal is manageable.
An example of a bite-sized step is buying one new vegetable every week, learning how to prepare it, and enjoying the results. Bam! Maybe your first step is increasing your water intake. Learn how much water you should be drinking every day and make an effort to reach that number. Or, go to bed earlier. You are more likely to make good decisions and crave less junk food if you are rested. Maybe your goal is to quit sugar. First, cut out actual white sugar from obvious sources (candy, baked goods, sweets). Then start reading labels on things you wouldn’t expect to contain sugar (tomato sauce, soups, bread, “healthy” cereal) and cut those things out. Don’t forget that sugar has lots of names. Next, cut out white flour (bread, pasta, crackers, cereal). Continue in that fashion until you reach your goal. Remember that there will always be setbacks. Don’t get discouraged. If you take a step back regroup and take the next step when you’re ready.
Make these small changes, then build. Celebrate every small step towards your goal. Even insignificant ones. At the end of the day, if you are 1% better at something, that’s a win. In this way, over time you will have accomplished sustainable, meaningful change. Stick with it, do the work, and be proud of your progress. Bite-sized steps are the key.
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