Can Small Changes Really Add Up To Big Weight Loss?

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’ve no doubt heard the same thing time and time again: “Small changes to diet and exercise can lead to major weight loss.”

Healthy Eating Habit

And if you look at the math, that’s true — weight loss comes down to a number of calories consumed versus how many calories you burn (there are 3,500 calories to a pound).

But, significant weight loss requires more than just cutting out a cookie.

Theoretically, cutting 100 calories each day should lead to a loss of about 10 pounds a year.

But, as many of us understand from firsthand experience, that just doesn’t seem to be the case. Why?

In large part, it’s because our bodies are so adept at adapting, explains the article. In other words, when you lose or gain weight, there are a variety of biological factors that come into play to help your body maintain that new weight. 

But wait! “If I’m consuming fewer calories or getting off the couch for an extra 15 minutes each day, how can that not help?” you ask. Well, here’s the thing — it is helping. Just not as much as you might expect.

Once you’re trying for weight loss, you’re out of the small-change realm. But the small-steps approach can stop weight gain.”

And I might not be the only one who feels that way.

The most significant problem with this approach is that many people are eating multiple hundreds of calories over what they need.

Therefore, cutting out one 100-calorie cookie may help slow weight gain, but many people will still be eating way over what they are burning, continuing the weight gain trend.

Still, we don’t want to discourage people from making those small changes. We encourage people to make one healthy change a month.

It takes 30 days to make or break a habit!

For example, for one month attempt giving up soda, and drinking water instead. Next month, keep up the water habit and try to eat fresh veggies instead of potato chips, and so on.”

We would also like to emphasize the importance of exercise. Once again, small changes (like taking the stairs instead of the elevator) are great ways to get started, but keep on going from there!

Work up to a goal of 30 minutes (if not more) of heart-pumping exercise a day, and incorporate in some strength training exercises. I find that the combination of both exercise and calorie reduction are key to successful, permanent weight loss.

Today’s lesson: Making any positive change to your diet and exercise routine is a good step, but it’s important to be realistic. If your goal is to slim down from a size 14 to a 6 by next fall, eating a little less dessert probably isn’t going to do the trick — you’re going to need a bigger effort.

Instead of looking at little changes as a way to lose weight, look at them as a way to keep yourself from gaining. 

Once you recognize how simple it is to add in just 30 extra minutes of exercise a week, you might find yourself making more and bigger changes (and reaping the results!). Just because you start small doesn’t mean you can’t think big.

Nixing the cookies (or the nightly ice cream, or the two-sodas-a-day, or the Thursday happy hours) may not get you all the way to your goal weight, but the minor changes can give you the confidence to make more substantial lifestyle changes. 

And as for that cookie, a single cookie is not responsible for the obesity epidemic, so don’t let small diet slip-ups derail your efforts!