Nutrition: The Little Things Add Up
Fad diets, major restrictions, huge shifts from your norm in one swift go, all of these extremes, they rarely last, and often they can even be unhealthy, depending on what they are. They're also often unsustainable.
Many people have this mentality that in order to create change, you need to make this big change, all at once, and it's a "moment" that changes everything. That's rarely the reality, of course, unless you are forced into a situation, versus making the decision for yourself. (I'm referring to people deciding on their own will, to make dietary changes to improve their health in some capacity, vs being given a life changing diagnosis of sorts).
I think we need to pay more attention to the little changes, and how they add up over time, until eventually, all of the little changes have led to a big change.
For example, you could decide you want to improve your nutrition and start with the simple addition 1 cup of vegetables to your lunch every day. You get yourself a calendar and every day that you follow through you get a big green check and every day that you don't you get a red x. You keep trying to improve on your calendar coming up with new ideas and ways to eat vegetables. Maybe you buy some Greek yogurt and mix it with dry soup mixes that you enjoy for dipping vegetables, or you make a quiche loaded with vegetables or create an amazing stir fry and eat left overs for lunches. But you master that one change. Once it becomes a habit, you move onto the next.
Next, you choose another small goal, like meeting your protein needs per meal or per day. For you, that may be 25-30 grams per meal and 10-15 grams per snack. You take the time to learn how much protein is in a piece of chicken, fish, or tofu, or in a cup or yogurt or lentils. Every day that you meet your protein needs you put a green check in the calendar and a red x when you don't and again you work towards more green checks, using this visual feedback as an accountability measure.
Imagine now that you have mastered 10 small goals like these? Suddenly, without really realizing it, you've gone from not eating any vegetables or fruit, not meeting your protein needs, not snacking, not drinking enough water, to slowly shifting all of those things and meeting those daily needs with more wholesome foods. Those things add up to a new lifestyle over time. There's a tipping point where your health is changing, your energy is improving and your body composition is changing (often in combination with exercise and resistance training).
I think the difficult thing for a lot of people is that they want to see the result immediately. Everyone is looking for the quick fix and the shiny new thing. I hate to tell you, there still is no magic bullet for health or weight loss. If you really think about it, most things in life that are worth it, take commitment over time and the ability to see them through. Improving your nutrition isn't that different.
If you're changing habits and you're on week one, you can't already be saying "forget it, I haven't lost a pound." You've got to have a long game in mind. Gaining fat doesn't happen over night, nor does losing it. Losing muscle doesn't happen over night and gaining muscle takes time, hard work and supportive nutrition and training. It's a process, in either direction.
Celebrate your small successes along the way, but know that like anything you've accomplished in life, it was a process, with a plan and you had to stick to it in order to see the outcome you were aiming for.
Here's to acknowledging the small wins, being patient with yourself and knowing that there will be tipping point and the the little things will add up and eventually become the big thing.
Until next time, keep working on those small habits and remind yourself who you're trying to become, while accepting who you are today in the process.