If you’ve struggled to improve your health, or introduce significant lifestyle changes, conquering one small change at a time can lead to impressive success when it comes to senior health and wellness.
“Many people think that once they commit to a change, they must be perfect or do it all at once. They take on too many changes, or too big of a shift, then become quickly overwhelmed and quit,” says Tracy Garrett, registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator at Sun Health’s Center For Health & Wellbeing in Surprise, Arizona. “There’s a better way.”
The trick is to define one thing you are ready to change, then set one small goal at a time that is achievable. Work on the one habit, gain confidence, then look at the next change you can make. Building one small habit at a time leads to positive, permanent changes.
Do not expect a 180-degree change; one step in the right direction is a GREAT beginning you can build from. It’s important to celebrate our small victories along the way!
Say you want to lose weight. Instead of setting a major goal of losing thirty pounds, it is much more achievable to set a daily goal of replacing your afternoon candy bar or soda with eating an apple.
Why does this work?
For weight loss, a small change like this relies on “the power of 100,” adds Garrett. “If you decrease your calories by 100 per day, over a year that equals TEN POUNDS of weight loss. It’s the equivalent of trading in a medium French fry for a small, or giving up one sugar drink. That’s doable, right? One small change at a time, you’ll move from where you are to where you want to be.”
It’s also small enough to be easily accomplished without triggering the urge to give up entirely if you make a mistake occasionally. If you slip into an undesired behavior, such as eating that candy bar, avoid being overly harsh on yourself. See if you can figure out what led to the slip, then simply recommit to your plan as quickly as possible. An important aspect to keep in mind is that persistent progress is far more important than expecting perfection.
Creating a written plan matters
Success depends on the individual goal; it must be something you are ready to change.
Also at the Center For Health & Wellbeing, Exercise Physiologist and Certified Health Coach Rhonda Zonoozi, BS, CHWC, HFS shared, “What do you want to change? If you start with the big picture goal then break it into small steps, week by week you’ll reach the larger goal.”
“When you successfully accomplish the small goal, you can pat yourself on the back, then look ahead to next week and setting your next goal.”
A staunch supporter of sitting less and moving more, Zonoozi suggests choosing one of these ideas as a start point in making your own small wellness lifestyle changes:
- Park your car further away from store entrances.
- When you are watching television, march in place during commercials.
- Stand up and walk around when you are talking on the phone.
- Get up to stretch every time you finish reading a chapter of your book.
- When waiting to check out at the grocery store, hold on to the shopping cart and alternate standing on one foot.
- Mindfully choose stairs instead of the elevator whenever possible.
These simple changes aren’t planned, but can become easily integrated into your lifestyle as a way to become less sedentary.
It also helps to write it down, since people are more likely to stick to something documented on paper they can easily reference as a reminder. It seems to give it more importance somehow and can be taped somewhere it will be seen often, such as the refrigerator or bathroom mirror.
If you’d like a free 30-minute session at the Center For Health & Wellness to create your own customized plan of small changes with a professional health coach, head over to SunHealthWellbeing.org today and sign up for the free basic membership.
You won’t believe what an impact it can make on your life!