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Small Steps to a Healthy Lifestyle

Updated on June 26, 2012

Motivation for a New You!

I've never been one of those people who can just follow some schedule of eating things I don't like, do exercises that are impossible except for the gifted acrobatic dancer type, starve myself, or quit sugar cold turkey. I've tried and failed more times than I can count. Then one day I realized something.

Diets don't work. Lifestyle changes do.

I came to terms with the fact that becoming healthy would be a VERY long time commitment. And suddenly the pressure was off my shoulders to become a bikini model in the next 6 weeks.

But that didn't mean that I was giving up. On the contrary, I began a new plan to develop good habits over time, to take baby steps instead of giant leaps, and to focus on the day at hand, rather than the far-distant-never-gonna-get-there-someday-maybe future me.

#1 I asked myself, what am I willing to do today, and what am I willing to give up today?

I picked one thing a day to do and one thing to give up.

Sometimes it was the same thing as the day before. Whether it was foregoing seconds or vowing to drink more water, taking a walk, or throwing out the chocolate stash, I started making mini changes.

By the end of the first month, I was consistently drinking lots of water and had purchased a higher ratio of fresh vegetables at the grocery store. I chose to do one exercise a day. Sometimes it was a walk, sometimes it was crunches. Once in awhile I'd find a workout video online and attempt to follow along. I made my goals mini, and by accomplishing the small goals, I was motivated challenge myself more and more.

After mastering small, consistent new patterns of behavior, I keep adding on to my goals. I slowly weaned myself off of sugar and emotional eating (that one was hard). It didn't happen overnight, but with a one-day-at-a-time mentality. I had grace for mess-ups, and sometimes I didn't follow through with my daily goals, but since it was just for a day, I would make a new goal for the next day, and move on. The frequency of new goals varied depending on how well I was following them, but I still made it a point to really try to follow through each day.

Here is a list I compiled of some of my mini goals. Side note: I couldn't trust myself to follow through more than one goal a day until a month or two of making changes, so I had to go super slow. And I don't regret it.

The Beginning of the Journey (It could take a few months depending on where you're at)

  • Replace one snack with vegetables
  • Don't have seconds of dinner
  • Eat only the recommended portion of cereal and milk on the box for breakfast
  • Swap chips for healthy popcorn
  • Have a salad for lunch
  • Eat only half of the meal when I eat out and put the rest in a to-go box
  • Drink a full glass of water with each meal
  • Say no to soda with your meal
  • Do one active activity a day
  • Walk a mile (about 15 minutes)
  • Do 25 crunches
  • Do 25 jumping jacks
  • Attempt one legit push-up (Try for it 3 times during the day)
  • Do a beginners yoga routine from an online video

The Middle of the Journey:

  • Throw away the icecream container
  • Stop eating red meat
  • Replace all soda with crystal light or water
  • Try jogging
  • Look up a workout from a fitness website and attempt
  • Say no to all sweets while at a party
  • Replace creamy salad dressings with vinaigrette
  • Find a new healthy recipe online to try
  • 50 jumping jacks
  • 5 push-ups
  • 50 crunches

The Now (I don't plan on ending this)

  • Join a group fitness class
  • Revamp all condiment choices
  • Have vegetables dominate meals
  • Remember the multi vitamin
  • Find a difficult workout routine and master it little by little
  • Drink water only
  • Don't eat out unless forced
  • Sign up for a 5k

These are just some of the changes I made. I started 2 years ago. Everything was in baby steps. I lost quite a bit of weight, and I feel great! I never look at the scale, but according to my clothes sizes I went from about a size 14 to an 8. You just have to keep telling yourself that it's just one thing today. This isn't a program. This is just what worked for me. My body still isn't perfect, but I don't care about that. I care about living long and being free to do the things I enjoy! I hope this helps you to your next goal. Sometimes a little encouragement is all it takes.


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    • Rebecca2904 profile image


      6 years ago

      I really like the idea of only having one day plans, it seems really manageable and less likely to end up in failure than with having expectations that are too high. I don't have such an unhealthy lifestyle but I do rather like sweet and sugary food :) I'll have to try this method in an attempt to give it up. And good luck with your own goals!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Go you :) I love keeping health simple... I'm not really into taking "supplements" but something that I have found that has really helped me with my energy, weight loss, detox, muscle recovery, mood... is seaweed and aloevera... and it does actually taste good too :) If you think this is something that might help you, check it out here:

    • summerstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      It just makes it simple! Thanks for reading!

    • summerstuff profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Haha! Yes! Its so true. And I never thought about cocoa. Thats a really good idea!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you, this was a good article....and I laughed when I read about throwing the ice cream carton out....because just last week I bought ice cream for my dad's birthday dinner and there was some left over...I ate it!....And, you are right...diets don't work...ever!...that's why I have changed my way of eating like you have...I never buy sweets because I know I will eat them, but I do keep plenty of fruit, yogurt and nuts at when I have a craving for something...this is what I'll eat....Also, cocoa is wonderful...plain, unsweetened cocoa...if I need chocolate I have hot cocoa.

      I go to a gym, ride a bike, walk and do exercise at home....I try very hard, but some days I don't get to exercise.

    • eHealer profile image


      6 years ago from Las Vegas

      I totally agree with you, a thin or healthy lifestyle is the way to go. Take it from me, I've tried insane diets and strenuous exercises that just resulted in gaining the weight back. Very cool article


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