When it comes to weight loss, many believe that drastic changes and painfully strict diets are the keys to success. However, research shows that taking small steps and making gradual changes can more comfortably lead us to big weight loss results. Because by taking baby steps it can be easier to create healthy habits that actually will stick with you for a lifetime.
In this article, we’ll look at this method plus I’ll give you some tips on which steps you might like to use to get to your goal.
1. The Science Behind Small Changes
The Body’s Resistance to Change
Our brains are wired to keep our body’s systems stable and balanced. But when you suddenly severely cut your calorie intake or drastically ‘up’ your exercise routine, your body arcs up and reacts by slowing down your metabolism. This is a built-in defence mechanism designed to conserve your energy and protect you against potential starvation. As a result, weight loss may slow off or eventually come to a grinding halt. Such plateaus can be so frustrating, to the point when many give up instead of continuing with their healthy eating plan.
Small Changes for Sustainable Results
Studies show that making small changes to your diet and exercise can be way more beneficial than changing everything all at once. Because small changes are not so difficult to implement and they can give you more sustainable results without the frustrating hurdles of long plateaus.
By using gradual adjustments, you also can give your body time to adapt without triggering its annoying defence mechanisms (which many call starvation response).
For instance, instead of eating less food, eat MORE food such as more vegetables, more salads and more fruit. Such easy little steps can replace high-calorie food options so you can lose weight better.
2. Achieving Weight Loss Through Small Changes
Setting Realistic Goals
One of the most important parts of successful weight loss is setting sensible and realistic goals. Meaning we have to have patience. I totally understand that we all want quick and dramatic transformations. But those forced results can backfire (Think: fast regaining of weight, constant hunger, cravings, and just feeling miserable. And even your health can suffer.)
When you set sensible, short-term goals, you’re more likely to achieve those, stay motivated and be committed to your weight loss journey. By focusing on small changes, you can track your progress more easily and celebrate each one of your achievements, no matter how small, along the way.
Like mastering the art of being organised for healthy lunches at work. Or no more snacking after dinner, etc.
3. Small Dietary Changes for Weight Loss
Portion Control and Mindful Eating
One of the first and easiest ways to make small changes to your diet is by focusing on portion control and mindful eating. I’ve actually created a system for everyone that is so easy to follow and doesn’t require calorie counting. Calorie counting: I’ve already done that all for you. It’s like painting with numbers: you just follow my template and recipes..and voila, weight loss occurs.
And if you were to join me in my VIP Wellness group, we often address mindful eating, how to create your own recipes and the nutrition needs behind the templates I created.
So back to portion control and mindful eating: instead of drastically cutting calories or eliminating entire vegan food groups, see if you can reduce the portion sizes of higher-calorie plant foods and start eating more slowly. It’ll help you become more aware of your hunger and fullness cues. This is important if you want to reduce the likelihood of overeating.
Nutrient-Dense Food Swaps
Another effective strategy is making simple food swaps that increase the ‘nutrient density’ of your meals. Instead of eating empty calories, replace those with whole, nutrient-rich alternatives. For example, swap out white rice for brown rice, barley or quinoa, choose whole-grain bread instead of white bread, or replace puffed-up processed breakfast cereals for whole grains ones like oat groats, millet, quinoa, or hulled barley (not pearled barley..choose hulled. It has slightly more fibre.) Over time, all these small changes can add up to significant weight loss over time.
One of the best things you can do for your weight loss making sure you drink plenty of water. Sometimes, even when only slightly dehydrated, your brain gets confused and thinks you are hungry when you’re actually thirsty. This can end up in you eating more than you need. By keeping well hydrated, you can listen to your body better and avoid unnecessary snacking.
There are a few studies that show if you drink two glasses of cool water [not iced water] about 15-20 minutes before each main meal, after about 3 months you can lose a few (NOT MASSIVE AMOUNTS) pounds more than if you were to drink water haphazardly through the day.
Worth a try.
On the other hand, the temperature of the water you drink is probably less important than staying hydrated. So here’s a tip: choose the water temperature that you prefer. Don’t get too focused on cold water. I don’t. Because in Scotland (where I live) it’s quite difficult to drink cold water all the time.
So I quite enjoy a mug of hot water instead. I know, a bit weird, but often I don’t want a flavoured beverage, like herbal tea, coffee or black tea. Plain hot water can be quite nice for a change.
4. Do Little Things to Move More
Incorporate Movement Throughout the Day
You don’t have to do a lot to be more active. You can simply look for ways to move more during the day. For instance, you can take the stairs instead of the lift, if it’s not raining then park your car a bit further from work, or you could take a walk during your lunch break. Unless you live in Scotland where the weather can put a stop to that. But otherwise, moving more in your daily routine can definitely add up and help with losing a bit more weight.
Start with Low-Impact Exercises
If you’re not used to exercising or having some physical issues, you might want to start with easy activities like walking, swimming, or yoga because they can be much easier on the body.
Gradually Increase Intensity and Duration
As you get more used to exercising, try to make your workouts harder and longer. This will help you avoid hurting yourself or getting bored while making sure that you keep losing weight. You can do this by increasing the speed, resistance, or incline of your exercise, or by adding more sets or reps. Later on, once you are stronger you can try different types of exercises to keep things interesting.
5. Addressing Emotional Eating and Cravings
Identifying Emotional Triggers
One of the hard things about losing weight is dealing with emotional eating and cravings. To handle these issues better, start by finding out what makes you overeat. This might be stress, boredom, or loneliness. Once you’ve figured out these causes, you can find healthier ways to deal with your emotions without using food. For example, you can try meditation, exercise, or talking to a friend when you feel stressed or lonely. You can also distract yourself with a hobby or a book when you feel bored. By doing these things, you can avoid emotional eating and cravings and stick to your weight loss plan.
6. Building a Support System
Find a Workout Buddy
It’s a lot easier to lose weight when you have a workout buddy. Having someone to exercise with or share your progress with can keep you on track and motivated. You can work out together in person or use a fitness app to cheer each other on. They can make exercising more fun and enjoyable. You can try new activities together, challenge each other, and celebrate your achievements.
Engage in Online Communities
You can connect with other people who have the same goals as you. This way it’s easier to get inspired and you’ll feel more supported. You can also learn from other people’s experiences, tips, and advice. You can share your own progress, challenges, and successes. Joining online communities can make you feel less alone and more confident on your weight loss journey.
7. Monitoring Your Progress
Track What You Eat and How Much You Move
Keeping a food and exercise journal can help you keep up with your weight loss goals. By checking your food intake and physical activity regularly, you can see what works and what doesn’t and make changes as needed to keep moving forward. You can also see how far you’ve come and celebrate your achievements. Keeping a journal will make you more mindful and aware of what you eat and how much you move.
I have found it especially useful when trying to pinpoint which meals keep me fuller for longer, and the ones that had me hovering in the kitchen after an hour or two looking for more food.
Wear a Fitness Tracker
If you want to keep a closer eye on your exercise progress, then a fitness tracker can be of great help. It’s a device you can wear on your wrist. There are quite a few options around that can collect data about your movements, heart rate, approx. calories burned [those numbers aren’t accurate] and more. You can use this data to adjust your weight loss plan for a better outcome. Plus, it can motivate you to keep going and reach your goals.
10. Embracing Flexibility and Patience
Accept Setbacks and Learn from Them
Unfortunately, weight loss doesn’t always happen at a steady rate. Instead, it can fluctuate and vary. And therefore setbacks are a natural part of the journey. Instead of getting discouraged, we might as well accept them as learning opportunities and then use them to refine our plans.
And as you go along, appreciate how far you’ve come and how much you’ve accomplished. Don’t forget that every small step you take is a step closer to your goal.
Acknowledge your progress rather than focus on the setbacks.
And don’t try to rush it because, as you know, you can’t lose weight overnight. After all, you didn’t gain it overnight either.
If you keep choosing helpful foods, using the right portions and moving your body every day, you will be making progress even if you can’t see it right away.
As you can see: there’s no need to make huge changes in one go. Use a variety of small steps to move forward because they are much easier to accomplish. They can bring excellent results without you getting frustrated or getting bored with the whole process.
I hope you’ll be able to use the above tips and I wonder which of the steps you will start with. Let me know next time you’re in our Facebook group. Just tag me.