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  • Writer's pictureThe Well Fed Soul

A Simple Formula For Lasting Change

It’s tempting to decide that you want to drastically change your health, lifestyle, body, mind, etc. and just go ALL-IN on it. The initial benefit of the excitement and momentum you feel when starting a “whole new life” can be captivating. Little by little though, you start to feel overwhelmed by all the balls you’re trying to keep in the air at once. You start to make concessions and let things slide. You start to rationalize that because you’re keeping up with thing ‘A’, it’s okay to not focus on thing ‘B’. Before you know it, you’re back where you started, but you’re even worse off because you now feel like a colossal FAILURE. Sound familiar?

We think that people tend to let go of New Year’s resolutions because they have zero ‘willpower’, but really, they’re just trying to change way too much at once! The sneaky secret to lasting, sustainable change in your life is that old stand-by ‘baby steps’. Focus on small, easy changes and watch the compound effect take place in your life!

The compound effect states that small, seemingly insignificant changes in any area of your life slowly compound to make huge ripples, without massive effort. Here’s an example; two hypothetical guys, we’ll call them George and Bill. George decides he wants to lose 50 lbs. and immediately jumps into massive action. He cuts his daily calories down to 1200 and decides to go to the gym every day for 1.5 hours. He stops eating and drinking absolutely everything he enjoys and has laser focus on his goal. Things are going well at first, he loses 5 lbs. and starts to feel a little better. Soon, a special occasion comes up and he slips a little on his eating plan. Work gets a little busy and he misses a day at the gym. Suddenly, he feels so overwhelmed by the enormity of the goal he’s set, and the relatively small progress he’s made and just gives up. He thinks losing 50 lbs. is way too hard, and he’ll never be able to do it. Next thing he knows, he’s gained back the 5 lbs. plus 10 more AND feels like a failure.

Bill, on the other hand, also wants to lose 50 lbs. He decides to start small by drinking 32 oz. more water each day, working out 2 days a week and cutting out soda. 2 weeks in, he’s feeling great and has a real handle on those small changes, and he feels like he can take on more. He starts working out 4 times a week, bumps his water up a little more to the recommended amount (half your weight in ounces) and starts to dial in his nutrition a little more by getting additional clean protein in his diet and paying attention to the timing of his meals. Jump forward to 2 months, Bill has turned his entire nutrition and fitness mindset around, he’s lost 25 of the 50 pounds he wants to lose, and it hasn’t felt difficult or tedious. Going to the gym is such a part of his weekly routine that he feels like he can set a goal and start to train for something! Fast forward to a year, Bill has lost the 50 pounds he planned to lose, has a renewed LOVE for exercise, he even ran a half-marathon! He fuels and nourishes his body properly with ease and joy. George is still sitting on the couch complaining about the time he tried to lose weight but found it too hard. Nothing Bill did was crazy, drastic or out of the ordinary, he just made small changes and increased them incrementally, instead of overloading his body and mind with high expectations.

If you focus your energy on small, sustainable improvements, big goals feel way easier. After all, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. (My father -in-law will be pleased I used that joke!) Focus your energy on a 1% improvement every day. I know it seems super slow, after all, 1% is only 1/100 of the total goal of drastic lifestyle change, but, in the end, it’s significantly more sustainable. Break the goal into several sections and focus on tackling one small section or step before you move onto the next. If you have multiple goals you are trying to reach, apply the formula to each goal. Instead of ‘get out of debt’, ‘lose 50 lbs.’, ‘run a marathon’ ‘keep my house clean all the time’ and ‘write a book’, try starting with ‘put an additional $50 towards debt per month’, ‘practice being mindful of what I eat’ ‘train for a 5K’, ‘tidy one room/day’ and ‘start keeping a journal’. These small, bitesize goals will fill you with a sense of accomplishment, while helping you toward your larger goals without the side of overwhelm.

Feed your mind, body and soul the good stuff by gently loving and nourishing it towards change, not forcing drastic change just to feel like you’re doing something big. Your results will ALWAYS be better when you love yourself enough to change, instead of forcing change because you hate yourself.

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