Updated: Aug 22
A few years ago, I read an incredible book called ‘Atomic Habits'. It's one of the best books I've ever read, and I coach women using many of its principles today.
In case you don’t want to run out to bookstore or order one up on Amazon, I’ll fill you in on why this book has been a game changer and sitting on my shelf for the past few years... especially when it comes to creating healthy habits that stick!
As you may have guessed, the premise of the book is that in order to create and sustain healthy habits, you must keep it simple and realistic. Start by changing one or two small things that feel doable: if you try to overhaul your life in a week, you will quickly become exhausted, overwhelmed and burnt out, and ultimately the changes won’t stick. By making small, 1% improvements, you give yourself a simple way to boost your health just a little bit each day. And it works.
I help my clients eat better, without cutting out entire food groups or asking them to sacrifice the foods they love. Because not only is that unhealthy, unnecessary and unsustainable, I simply won't ask my clients to do anything that I wouldn't do myself.
Let’s say the first thing you choose to improve is breakfast. If you’re used to grabbing a sugar filled protein bar or filling your bowl with cereal that totes a cartoon character, our first move is to help you obtain some quality carbohydrates and protein. These are two ingredients your body needs to feel and function its best. So we start by ADDING, rather than subtracting. Can you ADD a banana, whole grain toast with nut butter, or hard boiled egg?
And guess what? A hard-boiled egg and a banana doesn’t take much longer to unwrap and eat. And it delivers greater nutrition, which means it will keep you feeling fuller longer and give you great energy too. Now don't get me wrong, a quality protein bar every now and then can be a helpful back-up on busy days when you're stuck in the car, sitting at the airport, or running errand after errand. But it's not a meal. It's a snack and typically won't offer enough nutrition to keep you going strong all on its own.
Don’t Give Up Your Popcorn
The great thing about making small changes is that you don’t have to give up your favorite foods. If you love snacking on popcorn (like I do), then don’t give it up! Just trade up for a healthier version.
About ten years ago I invested in an air popper. It was quick, easy, and tasty! Then two years ago I treated myself to a Pampered Chef microwave popper and it was one of the best purchases I've made. It takes me just 3 minutes to pop up a bowl of fresh hot popcorn and I save loads of calories in the process. Plus, I can easily control the portion size. Sometimes I melt a bit of unsalted butter and drizzle it over the top, other times I just sprinkle on a bit of nutritional yeast or cinnamon. And it's SO GOOD!
There are also several varieties of healthier popcorns at the grocery store that make a perfectly healthy snack. One of my favorite brands is SkinnyPop because there are just three ingredients: non-GMO popcorn, oil, and salt. That’s all. Perfect for grab-and-go and road trips!
The same goes for any of your favorite fun foods: if you don't want to give up the chips, try swapping for some slightly healthier ones, such as sweet potato chips or multigrain tortilla chips. And if it's chocolate that you crave, try trading up your milk chocolate for a tasty dark.
The goal is not to make big sweeping changes and overhaul your day-to-day diet. Remember: keep it simple! Start by asking if you can reduce a portion size, make a small level up for a slightly healthier alternative, or pair your fun food with something hearty to leave you feeling energized and satisfied.
Embrace the Journey
The road to healthier living and weight loss is truly a journey. You don’t have to be run out in an all out sprint tackling everything at once to see progress. In fact, this is where slow and steady really does win the race. When you make small and simple changes you let your body and your taste buds adjust, which helps you build trust and seek out those 1% improvements.
So whether you start with one less sausage link at breakfast, or order the smaller french fry at the drive thru, or swap your vending machine snack for fresh fruit and nuts, every 1% improvement adds up. It's what will help you create a stable and solid foundation. Because it feels doable, even on your craziest, busiest days. And it works. My most successful clients do not make grand sweeping changes, they start with one small improvement at a time.
Start by asking yourself, "What's just one thing I can do differently today?" Maybe it's going for a walk on your lunch break, maybe it's swapping white bread for whole grain, maybe it's adding more color to your plate, or maybe it's drinking more water. Keep it simple, make it realistic and you'll find it sustainable. Plus, you'll find yourself inspired to find other simple ways you can make small level ups in your daily habits. Win/Win!
Discover four simple steps to help you eat better, think better and feel your best! Download my FREE guide 4 Ways To Eat Better now and I'll show you how!