Make One Small Change: A Manageable Approach to Food, Fitness and Life

Making one small change each day can prevent a lifetime of weight gain. Read dietitian Jason Machowsy's tips for the small changes you can make in minutes.

The average adult gains about one pound per year. That doesn’t sound like much, right?  But now consider how someone who weighs 120 pounds at 20-years-old can reach 150 pounds around their 50th birthday. One pound a year. And when you break it down, one pound a year is about ten calories a day.

Ten calories a day? That’s like a little less butter spread on your bread! And not even one packet of sugar in your daily coffee!  These changes seem very easy, but the key is to make these changes every day, day after day. And that’s the challenging part: Consistency. Life happens: late days at work, stressful life events, traveling. The key is to find small changes that are easy for us, and not easily disrupted by life’s (sometimes necessary) distractions.

Many of us want to eat healthier and we are great at making broad, purposeful goals such as “No more fried foods” or “No more desserts.” How often do those work? Some of us will get more specific and say “I will eat healthy during the week and then take a break on weekends.” What happens if a special event with amazing food occurs on a Tuesday?

Big goals are important, but to achieve them, it takes small steps (such as giving up that sugar packet). It also helps to get support from your family and friends. Share your results and challenges and get them on-board to make small changes with you. The changes you make can be small, and they might only take a few minutes. The important thing is to make a change, and stick with it.

  • Have 1 Minute? Order salad dressings or gravies on the side and rather than pouring it on top of your food. Dip your fork into the dressing before you take a bite, that way you will get a taste of dressing with each bite, but you’ll consume less dressing by the end of your meal.
  • Have 5 Minutes? Make your own oatmeal.  Most pre-sweetened oatmeal packets have about 13g of sugar which equals three sugar packets. Consider buying un-sweetened oatmeal and topping it yourself with some cinnamon and a pinch of brown sugar. Or hold the sugar and stir in some fresh fruit (diced apple or a few raisins) and some sliced almonds for added nutrients and anti-oxidants.
  • Have 10 Minutes? Recommended daily physical activity for health benefits is moderate intensity (a difficulty that means you can talk, but not sing) for 30 minutes a day. Did you know that research shows you can break those 30 minutes into smaller ten minute-intervals and still have similar benefits? Consider a ten minute brisk walk before work, during lunch and then right after work.
  • An All-Day Tip: Do you have a candy bowl on display at work or at home? Put it away. If you can’t get rid of it (i.e. your boss likes it available), either move it out of arm’s reach or put it in an opaque container with a lid.  Studies have shown if you can’t see the candy, you’ll to eat less of it.

About the author: Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS is a registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, author of Savor Fitness & Nutrition wellness blog and avid proponent of MyBodyTutor , a health coaching website dedicated to helping people stay consistent with their healthy eating and exercise goals.

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