A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step
This is one of my favorite quotes and rings true with many of the difficult things we have to do in life. It applies to long-term goals in school, work, and at home. But, I believe it’s also a great way to look at our health and wellness.
We can easily become overwhelmed any time we make a drastic decision to change our life, whether it’s starting a new weight loss program or going for a degree at school. There are so many options and choices in the health and wellness world, but, sadly, most people tend to ignore all of them.
Often, it can be for good reason, such as starting a diet that’s too restrictive and that doesn’t allow you to eat out with friends.
I believe that in order to jumpstart the process, we should choose a single healthy activity or dietary choice and incorporate that one step at a time before proceeding to another lifestyle change.
The Benefits of Gradual Diet Modification
Let’s say someone decides to start exercising and does not know where to start. She may decide to join a fancy gym or sign up for a Yoga or spin class. Unfortunately, she will likely burn out in a few weeks or months because the experience can be so overwhelming.
A simple approach is for that individual to just buy a $60 pair of sneakers and start walking. She could then add biking or perhaps jogging and up the intensity of the workout the more comfortable they feel with exercising regularly.
Once she starts seeing the benefits, such as increased energy and weight loss results, she will be motivated to go even harder during each workout. I am a big fan of using simple step-by-step changes in diets and lifestyle choices because they are the easiest to adopt.
Instead of advising a hesitant patient to enter a strict weight loss program with way too many rules, I usually start with a simple one-step instruction. As many of you know who have started the program, I like to start patients with a simple time-restrictive eating exercise based on their BMR they can incorporate over the course of a week.
I’ve found from experience this gradual approach to dieting works so much better than an all-or-nothing approach. For example, instead of advising patients to limit all carbs as much as possible, I like to start by limiting their carb intake after 2 p.m.
My patients tend to learn to cut down on carbs later in the day and get used to eating a larger amount of healthier alternatives such as vegetables, fruits, salads, and lean meats.
Very often, these dietary changes tend to spill over into their breakfasts and their lunches. If they start to see beneficial effects from cutting carbs (e.g., feeling better and losing weight) then they usually spread the good habits to other parts of their lifestyle. This may encompass things like discovering healthier foods or starting new exercise habits.
Focus on the Journey, Not the Result
My point here is that we should not fixate on the end result. Stop thinking that you must lose 20 pounds or run a marathon. Start focusing on one healthy activity at a time. You can begin by deciding to do just one of the following:
If you already do one of these things, then add on another. If you take the first step, you may soon find yourself on a journey.
Remember, to have a reminder with you that will help you push forward each step at a time. For patients of the S3 program, I like them to wear a gree bracelet that gives them a gentle reminder to make healthier choices so the next time they reach for a cookie, they’ll think about a carrot instead.
By focusing on simple lifestyle modifications one step at a time, you will be more likely to achieve your desired results at the end of your journey. Just remember to be patient and keep moving forward!
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