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Small changes: What they are and why they work

We’ve all tried a few diets. Sometimes we lose a little weight, but mostly they end in failure. Typically, we just can’t stick to the plan.

As a kid I was made to drink these terrible aloe vera weight-loss drinks. Mostly they ended up down the drain (they really were horrible!). As a young adult, low carb seemed like it might be the key to success. Turns out I love carbs. Even more recently, I thought salad was the answer. Salad for lunch, salad for tea. Salad every day. I love salad but there’s a limit to how much salad one man can eat in a week!

Each time I tried some form of diet, I really, really wanted to lose weight but I just couldn’t stick to the plan.

Why is that? Well, there are a few reasons.

  1. Information overload: From new recipes to new shopping lists. Questions about what’s already in your pantry. Can I eat this? Will the whole family eat this? What do I do when I go out for dinner? Taking this much information on board in a short space of time is a fast track to failure.
  2. Too many changes: Transforming your diet from unhealthy to healthy is a huge change. You’re changing what you know and what you love and you’re doing it all in the space of just a few days. Making massive changes to your daily lifestyle is hard, and if you do it too quickly, it’s too hard.
  3. You hate it: You obviously like the idea of losing weight but you hate what your life has become in the process. If you hate what you’re doing, it’s going to be nearly impossible to keep doing it for any length of time.

That’s a short but far from comprehensive list. I’m guessing if you have kids, they will make any meal time infinitely more complicated and if your partner isn’t on board with the changes, that’ll cause some tension too. There’s so much working against you, it can seem nearly impossible to succeed. So what can you do?

Small changes worked for me and I’m convinced they can work for you too.

Why small changes work

When you understand the reasons why you didn’t lose weight in the past, it makes it easier to build a picture of why small changes will work better for you in the future.

  1. There is no information overload: You simply focus on one very small change at a time and get on with the rest of your life just as normal.
  2. You’re still transforming your diet: But there’s no pressure to get it right in just a few days. Without the massive, abrupt changes you’re far more likely to stick with it.
  3. There is nothing to hate: You’re working your way towards health without sacrificing your life and all the things you love in the process.

Sounds too good to be true, but it’s really not! Diets promise quick results, but a small-change approach delivers sustainable results.

What is a small change?

Before you start making small changes, it’s a good idea to build a picture of where you’re at right now. Take a really close look at your daily food choices. You could use an app for this, or maybe you just want to write them down. Once you know what you’re putting into your body, you can start to think about what you can do without.

Next, pick one small healthy change and stick to it for a couple of weeks. What kind of healthy changes can you make? The options are endless. Here are some ideas:

  • Reduce the amount of sugar in your coffee, even if it’s only by half a teaspoon
  • Switch your soft drink for a sugar-free or diet drink, or one sweetened with stevia
  • Try hummus and rice crackers instead of chips and dip
  • Cut back on one alcoholic drink in the evening after work
  • Switch from whole-cream milk to trim milk in your muesli or tea and coffee
  • If you don’t cook very often, try cooking your tea one extra night during the week
  • Try dried fruit or a small handful of nuts instead of lollies as an afternoon snack
  • If you like chocolate, downsize it to a mini or treat-size bar now and again
  • If you usually buy a family bag of something, buy the snack size instead

You with me? Don’t try and ditch all the things you love, instead just make one small change and stay with it until it sticks. It might take a week, or a month, but it doesn’t matter. Then move on and make another change. Don’t like these changes? Find some that work for you. If it seems too hard, then the change is probably too big so just look for something easier.

What seems like an insignificant change today adds up to dozens of changes over the next few months and years. Over time these changes add up to big results and eventually you’re well on the way to a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.

Shane Gosnell

This blog is the opinion and experiences of its author and should not be taken as medical or dietetic advice. Healthy Food Guide has not verified the content and cannot endorse any advice given. Healthy Food Guide recommends seeking professional health advice for specific complaints or symptoms, or before undertaking a weight-loss program.




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