Last month, I was talking to another coach and she was telling me all of the changes she had made to her diet in the last few weeks. Knowing that I use the Tiny Habits© methodology in my coaching, she was seeking guidance as she was overwhelmed and feeling like the changes were somehow not enough. I reassured her that it was not the changes she was making, but the fact that she was trying to change TOO MANY things at once that was causing the overwhelm.
You see, it’s the small – and I mean really really small – things that can really make a difference.
When there are too many new things, while at first it might seem like a good thing, it quickly escalates to overwhelm. The result is we give it all up and feel that we have somehow failed the process and re-adopt the former patterns, habits and behaviors.
What to do instead?
Try one small change at a time. Once that change has become routine to the point that you no longer have to think about it, adopt another or make that original one bigger.
Here are some small swaps you might consider making to live a healthier life. Choose one that aligns with your long-term goal(s).
- Park as far from the door as possible – not only are you getting in more steps, you are protecting your vehicle from random door dings
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator – or if there are a lot of opportunities for this, take the stairs one time more than usual
- Change sitting meetings to walking meetings – they will be shorter and more productive
- Stand up every time you engage on social media – not only will you become more active, you may also reduce your use of social media
- Use the power of time to flip your script. Say for instance you are trying to reduce sugars in your diet and at a party, you are tempted by the vast array of desserts. Denial can lead to a feeling of punishment, so use this delay tactic instead. Tell yourself I can have this, but not now. By using this delay tactic, the nervous system calms a bit allowing you to regain your more rationale state of mind and focus on your overall goal of reducing sugars without feeling deprived.
- Another way to use time is to envision your future self. This is the person who you will have become once you’ve made the change you want to make. See that person and ask yourself what choice would he/she/they make around this circumstance.
- Changing the way to talk to yourself might also make a difference. Many times I hear, “I was so stupid in making that decision.” You can remove the charge from this statement with a subtle rewording. Try this, “I acknowledge that I made a stupid decision, but I learned and won’t do that again.”
- When negative self-talk creeps into your inner voices, here’s a trick that has helped me immensely. First, recognize that you are ruminating – not as a bad thing, but as a fact. Next, consider how a kind friend would talk to you about the issue. We are much harder on ourselves that anyone else. (read more in Chatter by Ethan Kross)
- Use oil and vinegar instead of commercial salad dressing – not only does this save on unwanted extraneous ingredients, it’s more economical
- Swap veggies for chips with dip – it doesn’t always have to be carrots and celery, try radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas
- Opt for a high protein spread instead of your usual nut/seed butter – protein keeps you feeling satiated longer, but if nut butters and spreads are a trigger food for you, this might not be an option you should adopt!
- Wraps are a great way to reduce calories, if that is one of your goals and you can post your protein as well by using egg wraps instead of flour wraps
- Chocolate your comfort food? Swap in dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Not only is there less sugar, dark chocolate contains important polyphenols that are good for gut health.
- Try beef jerky, gum, mints, pre-cut veggies (you get the idea) instead of chips
Sometimes we just go with the flow of what is convenient.
Your job is to make the healthier options easy, convenient and affordable. It takes some thinking about your environment and routine, but just one small change, implemented over time can make a huge difference in your long-term health and goals.
Do yourself a favor and hit reply to let me know what you choose or what you invent.
I’d love to hear about your goals and strategies to reach them.