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How Small Steps Lead to Big Lifestyle Changes In Health

  • Your mind and body might resist change – even if that change would be in your best interest.

  • Making small, gradual behavioural changes may be more realistic and effective.

  • Celebrating small successes can help you to continue your progress.

Most people don’t stick to their New Year’s resolutions, and for good reasons. It’s challenging to incorporate new behaviours into your lifestyle as it requires you



to alter routines and ingrained habits. The human body is organized to return to a state of homeostasis when changes occur. So, your mind and body might resist changes – even if those changes are in your best interest.


“Why can’t I just do it? Am I lazy?” asked my former client, who set a New Year’s resolution of going to the gym three mornings a week. In February, this client had not once gone to the gym. Was this client lazy?

Psychologist B.J. Fogg notes that when we’re unable to implement new behaviours consistently, it’s not always about a lack of motivation or willpower; we’re just taking the wrong approach. Fogg recommends making small, gradual behavioural changes instead of immediately jumping into significant changes. These small changes in behaviour should increase little by little over time until you have achieved your desired change. For example, if your goal is to achieve healthy eating habits, you might start by trying to improve one meal a day for a week—instead of changing everything you eat all at once.


Let’s say your goal is to go to the gym three days a week in the morning. But you haven’t been to the gym in over six months, and you’ve been sleeping in. Therefore, your daily routine consists of sleeping and not going to the gym. You’ve gotten used to this routine, and it might be challenging to change it. Instead of waking up early and going to the gym three mornings a week right away, try thinking in terms of smaller steps.


Here is an example:

Week 1: Set your alarm and get up each day at the time when you plan to go to the gym.

Week 2: Get up early and do a 10-minute exercise routine at home three days this week.

Week 3: Get up early and do a 20-minute exercise routine at home three days this week.

Week 4: Get up early, go to the gym one morning this week, and do a 30-minute exercise routine at home two other mornings.


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