Health & Wellness

The power of small change

It’s great to change make healthy changes, but don’t be tempted to make too many big lifestyle changes too quickly. Lean how you can ease into it.
Published 12 July 2017

Small changes that can improve your wellbeing

It’s tempting to take the ‘lose-weight-or-die-trying approach’ when you’ve decided you want to see a shift on the scales. But the thing about that high-pressure tactic is that things can start to unravel after the first few weeks. Because, while taking on the whole enchilada in one big mouthful can seem enticing – how great and motivating does it feel to make big, sweeping changes? – this approach is exactly why many ‘diets’ fail. People expect too much too soon, and then get disappointed when they don’t see the results they’re after or realise that the changes they’ve made aren’t sustainable, long-term.

So while making small changes to start with might not sound like it will have a big impact, the old saying is true – it’s the little things that can count the most. Those tiny and seemingly inconsequential actions can, over time, lead to big overall lifestyle changes. Basically, the easiest way to make big things happen is to do the really small things first.

Here’s an example – ever heard of the book House of Sand and Fog? It’s a best seller. When we think of great novel writers we usually imagine a person wearing a beret locked away in a dark room bashing away at a typewriter for hours on end, because big things only happen in big flashes of inspiration and with lots of perspiration, right? But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The author of that particular book, a guy named Andre Dubus, wrote the whole book in 20-minute chunks in his parked car after work. Just 20 minutes a day – now that’s doable.

Of course not all of us are budding novelists, but the technique can be applied to anything, including your weight-loss and lifestyle goals. Here are the steps to help make it happen.

1. Identify your pressure points

There’s a super easy way to do this: track your exercise and everything you eat and drink, and pay attention to when, where and how it all happens, as well as how you feel when it does. You’ll begin to recognise behaviours, situations and patterns that could be affecting your ability to achieve your goals. List them in your My Tracker or on a piece of paper.

2. Think small

Now, make the simplest, least-demanding, ridiculously easy actions you can: for example move the fruit bowl from a kitchen corner to the table so it’s more visible and accessible; set your alarm five minutes earlier to buy yourself some time to pre-track your breakfast; or make it your mission to eat just one extra serve of ZeroPoint™ veggies a day.

3. Let it grow

The beauty of small changes is that they naturally grow and multiply. Drinking just one glass less of soft drink a week seems easy, and will give you the confidence to gradually take away another, and then another, until you’re ready to only drink it on special occasions. This also works really well for exercise – just five minutes doesn’t seem like much but if you go from nothing to five minutes you win. If you go from five to 10 minutes you win even more.

The thing to remember is that if you find a small change isn’t working for you, it could be because it’s too much, too soon, and that’s why it won’t stick. Scale it back and see how it goes. What small change are you going to make today?