Have you ever been told that you must commit to huge lifestyle changes in order to lose or maintain your weight? While regular habits do form an important part of health and fitness, starting out with a perfectionist attitude is not the answer. In fact, research shows that small changes go a long way in helping you lose weight, change your body image, and improve your health and wellbeing. Here’s how.
A small effort is better than none
In a study of over 1000 clients, health professionals found that people who are consistent with their health and fitness program less than half of the time still see real results. Of course, sticking to your regime more often will work in your favour – but some progress is better than none.
It’s easy when trying to lose weight to want it all to fall off at once. But even a 5-6% decrease in body fat (something that’s been proven achievable with only a little effort) can lead to improved sleep, better mood, decreased risk of cancer and diabetes, less inflammation, improved immunity, and better cardiovascular health. While the weight loss might not be as big as you hope to begin with, starting with one healthy habit is shown to lead to better sustained weight loss i.e., the weight stays off, rather than being putting back on during inactive periods.
What does this look like in action?
So, let’s say you start your goal with losing 5-6% body fat. What does this look like in action? It starts with small changes that are sustainable most of the time – and being kind to yourself when you don’t stay consistent. For example, if your healthy habit is to eat more nutritious foods, you may think each and every meal needs to be perfectly healthy. While this sounds like a great way to get fit fast, when you’re first starting your fitness journey it’s all too easy to fall into unhealthy eating habits, and give up altogether when you do so.
Instead of overhauling your entire diet in a day, we encourage our clients to start by swapping out one meal a day to a healthier option. Look at your biggest problem meal and start there. If you’re constantly buying takeout for lunch, try packing a green salad with lean protein each day. If pre-bed time has you gorging on sweets, try to swap out processed treats with fresh fruit or homemade snacks that are lower in refined sugars. Start by making one small change in your day and change nothing else. Then, when you’re feeling up to the challenge you can introduce another change down the track.
What about consistency in workouts?
If you’ve tried exercise regimes before, you’ve probably been told that you need to exercise daily to see results. Although more exercise will help the weight drop off, no one expects you to run 5ks a day after living a sedentary lifestyle. Instead, we focus on small, sustainable sessions with our clients that are far easier to commit to.
Focused exercise 3 times a week is a great starting goal – but even 1 or 2 activities a week is a good start. If you know you can’t commit to exercising every day, a high intensity workout once a week is your best bet. However, this can also be supplemented by everyday activities such as going for a walk or running around the backyard with the kids. Workouts can also be broken up throughout the day – instead of one 30-minute session a day, breaking it up into 3x 10-minute segments can be easier to achieve.
Improving your health and fitness can be a long journey, but it all starts with the decision to make one small change. It’s not about perfect – it’s about better. If you’re looking for sustainable weight loss and weight management, we’re here to help. Contact us for a hassle-free consultation and see how our personal training services can benefit you.