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Small steps to big weight loss

Healthy weight loss requires changing eating and exercise habits. But many other choices you make each day, such as how much time you spend sleeping or surfing the Internet, can also make a difference.

Be aware, be very aware.

Real weight loss depends on becoming more conscious of your actions and beginning to modify them. Instead of relying on willpower, this approach requires skill power.

Create micro-habits by setting small, specific, and realistic goals

Perhaps you'd want to be the same weight as you were in high school or when you got married, but that could entail losing more than 50 pounds. Don't go there — not yet, at least.

Set an attainable goal of losing 5% to 10% of your weight, and allow yourself plenty of time and leeway to achieve it. Keep in mind that most people take at least six months to lose five percent or greater of their body weight. Also try not to set vague objectives, like "I should eat less at supper and exercise more." Instead, make short-term (that is, daily or weekly) micro-habits that you can develop:

  • On Sunday, I'll choose a few supper recipes and go shopping for the items.

  • I'll bring a nutritious lunch from home, rather than going out at least three times next week.

  • On Monday and Wednesday, I'll go for a stroll with a buddy after work.

  • I will decrease exposure to problematic food ("stimulus control") to avoid temptation, such as keeping cookies away from sight in the kitchen. This can be achieved by using a no-food zone, such as the area surrounding your workstation, or keeping unhealthy foods out of sight and reach.

Eat breakfast slowly — and mindfully — every morning

Many people skip breakfast because they are busy or don't feel hungry. Make time for breakfast by waking up 15 minutes earlier (which means going to bed early enough so you can sleep). Slow down your eating and practice putting down your utensil or sipping water, coffee, or tea in between bites. It's ideal to spend at least 20 minutes on each meal, but this may be more realistic during your noon or evening meal; pick one to begin with. Set a timer for yourself to monitor how long you spend eating.

Creating small sustainable micro-habits leads to the large-scale changes you desire

Choose ONE micro-habit to concentrate on! It's critical to develop these healthy routines into a habit. After you've established one that you do frequently, add another. Over time, you'll see that many of these behaviors are linked and support large-scale change. Just take it easy and take it small.


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