Saturday, May 28, 2011

Small Changes = Big Rewards

When I first became a dietitian I was overwhelmed by my clients who needed to make several changes to their diet. I always had a hard time focusing on just one part of their diet, as I often felt obligated to make everything better in just one visit. I assumed they would never come back after the first meeting so I figured it was best to tell them everything they needed to know, right off the bat. Of course, what I didn't realize then was that they certainly wouldn't come back if I overwhelmed them with too much information and too many goals during our first meeting!

Source: iStock Photo

I met with a client the other day who, like many people I see, had several areas of her diet that needed modified. She knew she needed to make some major changes to her diet and lifestyle, but she didn't know where to begin (and in the past, neither would I). As I looked at her diet I thought to myself; she needs more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, dairy, and less sugar, refined carbohydrates, and liquid calories.

Source: iStock Photo

Instead of telling her all this, and completely overwhelming her and making her feel stressed, I focused on one thing; Sugar. I gave her four goals, one to complete for each week before we meet again. She left with a smile on her face, and I could tell she was motivated to change.

The next week I saw her and she told me she had already completed two of her goals, and was working on goal three. Obviously it isn't always this easy, and like I said to her on that day, she will inevitably have days when she will want to revert back to her old ways, but that's normal. The bottom line is that small changes do work, and while the outward results may not be completely evident right away, inside your body will be thanking you from the moment you make that first small change.

That brings me to the next segment of this post;

Have You Ever Wondered.......?

How people will quickly give up carbohydrates and eat beef jerky and eggs all day, but when you tell them to eat a piece of fruit they turn their noses?

Source: iStockPhoto

How people will agree to give themselves shots of hormones and go on a 500-calorie diet, but if you told them to just start adding a bit more protein to their diets and be more active, they say it's too hard?!

How people will sip on liquid meal replacements all day, but if you told them to just stop eating eating dessert every single night they say it's impossible?!

Why does this happen?! It's because we all want that quick fix, instant gratification. But the bottom line is that instant gratification only leads to future heartbreak. Wouldn't you rather take it slow and be healthy for a lifetime? Wouldn't you rather make small changes that lead to a lifetime of feeling good and making healthier choices?!

Source: iStockPhoto

Tami from Nutmeg Notebook has created a "Small Change Challenge". Go ahead and check it out if you're interested in joining the challenge. The small change I am making is to not snack all day on my days off, and while at work. I know I know, I don't have a weight problem, so who cares (that's what you're thinking, right?!). The point is to prove to myself that I can practice what I preach. It's one thing to snack when you're hungry, but lately I've been snacking on a full stomach. Not good.

QUESTION: What small change will you make during the next few months? Make sure it's something that you can keep up for a lifetime!


  1. I really like the idea of small changes. You are so right, people often want quick fixes and make changes they just can't keep up.

    My goal is to eliminate the added sugar in my diet. I think I need to keep track of all the added sugar I eat for a few days and then start cutting it out slowly.

  2. Small changes is definitely the best plan I agree! I have totally wondered about all your questions, partly because I am much more likely to make a small change than do any of those crazy things. Sure, I want instant gratification too but I am not willing to drink meal replacements or give up carbs- EVER haha.

  3. Great post! Im with you on that instant gratification idea. I think people like quick fixes for everything and at all cost!

    The small change I would make is to have some sort of physical activity at least 5-6 days per week. Working out/being active always keeps me in the right track :)

  4. i like so much this approach! small changes matters, small steps lead to big success! I am like that too, I don't plan big plans or goals, I like to focus on everyday matters, things that I'm sure I can do instead of challenge something too hard.
    next few months I will focus on reduce caffeine intake. currently I am having 1 mug size coffee every morning. I will try to reduce to half mug and then 1/4 cup. :)

  5. You must share your recipe for avocado burger. I totally agree wit the premise of baby steps!

  6. Baby steps are the way to go! You must be such a good RD!!

  7. Good for your client!!
    I can go overboard on the grains sometimes, so I'm making an effort to eat less grains in the next few months and get more of my carbs from veggies and fruit :)

  8. Great post! I have many clients in the same many things to improve, and no idea where to start.

    I try to get them to focus on small things, and tell them examples of it working...and they still often do the extreme stuff because they want it faster!

    Personal clients are easier....corporate clients can be tough. I have one lady in the corporate setting who has lost the same 5 pounds over and over for three years :)

    Bottom line.....she's not ready!

    Thanks for your insights. I think I can focus on the snacking thing too. I don't need to lose weight, but I feel the same way you do---often I eat just because it's a habit, not out of hunger. Then once I start...I just keep eating!

  9. I think it is really hard to isolate a few goals for clients who have lots of needs. I usually start with incorporating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables into their diet and 8 glasses of water per day. :)

  10. I agree 100% that most people want a quick fix. Too bad many don't realize that it's a round trip "quick fix".

    Two changes I've been working on are to floss every single day and drink more water. I'm not a "drinker" per say so this is tough, but each week I get a bit more in. So far, so good!

  11. Ha! This is so true. I'm always telling people that if there was a product or a shake or injection or pill that was effective-everyone would use it. Even us RD's! I'd be first in line for unlimited desserts with no consequences.