Small Steps Can Lead to Big Results

Hi there, Mamas! Clients often ask me whether they should start making little changes or jump right into a whole new lifestyle. That depends a lot on your own personality. (If you’re looking for more on this, check out Gretchen Rubin’s book Better than Before. I highly recommend it!)

If clients aren’t sure, I recommend small steps. Here are a few reasons why:

Small steps can take you a great distance.

Small steps can take you a great distance.

  • Small, simple changes allow you to work on one thing at a time. Once you’ve been able to change one habit, you’re in a good place to start on another. Before you know it, you’ll have changed all (or most) of your less healthy habits! {For more on eating habits and environment, check out this book.}
  • Making many changes all at once can be intimidating. It takes a lot of mental and physical effort to 180 everything you do on a daily basis. All of that struggle can leave you exhausted in the evening. When we’re exhausted, we are more likely to binge or get caught up in old habits.
  • We talked before about fad diets. They are one example of changing everything all at once. They often isolate people and can contribute to an all or nothing mentality. This is a problem because people assume once they’ve “fallen off the wagon,” it’s too hard to get back on it. Ultimately, it can lead to yo-yo dieting and rebound weight gain.

Remember, just because the steps are small, doesn’t mean they’re not intense. I’ve talked to a client about her soda habit – 10 a day! That’s about 1,500 calories (a whole day’s worth). Giving up soda would be a gigantic {small} step. But, if she wanted to start slower – say, cut back to five a day – that would still be a big {small} step. There’s also the point of finding something with which to replace the other behavior. So, if she would switch five sodas a day for water or even tea, she’d be getting five nutritious beverages while cutting back on nutrient-void drinks. Really, every small step is really working double.

However, there may be times when a lot of change can work.

  • A health diagnosis. When someone is diagnosed with diabetes, they have to change they way they eat. Period. {Unless they don’t care about the side effects of untreated diabetes, that is.} This is a perfect example of a good time to completely overhaul eating habits. There are still ways to start small while managing diabetes, but often it’s a life-altering change.
  • If you’ve hit a milestone and want a clean slate. Turning 30? Starting a new job? Kids back to school? New Year’s Resolution? Any and all of those are great times to totally revamp your nutrition habits. Picking a time of the year, like when kids are back to school, when habits will change anyway can be the perfect time to change a lot of things at once. After all, they’re changing anyways.

The most important thing to remember is that we’re all different.

We all learn and grow at different paces and that is completely fine. For changes to stick, pick something (or a lot of things) that is important to you and stick with it. No matter what, give yourself some grace. I used to volunteer with Girls on the Run and I LOVE their motto: Keep moving forward! No matter how slowly you’re going, you’ll eventually get where you want to be.

RDNs are an amazing tool and health partner (if I do say so myself). Find an RDN near you.

Tell me, Mamas: Do you like to work on one thing at a time or dive all-in? Are you a sprinter or a marathoner?

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