Losing weight is one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, but it’s also one of the things most of us struggle to achieve. By the second or third week of January, most of us are struggling to keep up with lifestyle changes to lose, or maintain, our weight.
But one method that can work well in controlling our weight is the “small change method”. This starts with understanding that in the long run, it may be better to start small.
Big changes can be difficult to sustain
Most people who are watching their weight start with a big change in their diet or exercise.
But big changes can be difficult to sustain over time because they require a lot of motivation. Since motivation goes up and down, it’s no wonder that major life changes are so difficult.
This is where a small change method can come in handy.
This weight management plan recommends that people reduce their calorie intake and/or increase their calorie burn by 100-200 per day. To achieve this, this could mean eating one or two chocolate biscuits or walking for 10-20 minutes every day.
It is possible that you only need to make small changes in your current habits to eat 100-200 fewer calories or burn 100-200 calories each day. These small changes can be easy to fit into your daily life, and, unlike big changes, won’t require extra time and effort outside of what you’re used to.
The partial change process is also flexible, as there are several ways you can reduce the calories you eat and/or increase the calories you burn by 100-200 each day. This flexibility can help you stay engaged in the process for a long time.
And research shows that when it comes to health, small changes in your routine can be very beneficial. We can no longer fail to make small changes, which will motivate us to make big ones over time.
According to previous research conducted by our team, the micro-switch method may be the best way to help people manage their weight. Our study included the results of 21 trials that used a small weight-adjustment method. We found that adults who used this method gained about one kilogram (2.2 pounds) over 14 months, compared to people who received generic weight management advice.
This is important because it suggests that a moderate weight loss strategy can be used to prevent the 0.5 kilogram to 1.0 kilogram of weight gain seen in adults each year, which can contribute to obesity and obesity over time.
More research will be needed to understand whether a moderate weight loss strategy would be the most effective long-term weight loss, and weight loss, strategy.
How to do it
If you want to try to make a small change, there are two questions you should ask yourself to help you get started:
- What changes can I make to reduce my calorie intake and/or burn by 100-200 kcal per day?
- Will I be able to achieve these changes even if my desire is low?
Small changes made by you can fit into your daily life and therefore can be easier to maintain over time. But if you’re struggling to make your own little changes, here are a few examples:
- Walk and talk: Whether it’s calling your friends or hanging out with friends, adding 20-30 minutes of walking to your day can help you burn up to 100 calories.
- Relax: Most TV commercials last about 2-3 minutes. Take time to exercise by doing crunches, lunges or squats. In a one-hour program with three servings, you can burn up to 100 calories.
- Avoid additives: Although many of us like to add things like cheese, butter, mayonnaise and ketchup to our food for flavor, these contain more calories than most of us realize. For example, 30 grams of cheese (about the size of a small box of matches) is 100 calories, while 30 grams of mayonnaise (about two spoonfuls) is about 200 calories. Cutting back on portions, or cutting them out completely, can make a big difference in the long run.
- Take your black coffee: Hot drinks like lattes, cappuccinos and hot chocolate can be more nutritious than you think. You can reduce your calorie intake by 100-200 calories by cutting them. If you can’t cope without coffee in your day, consider getting less coffee or drinking black.
Watching your weight doesn’t have to be difficult. Making small changes to your diet and lifestyle can add up over time and make all the difference, as shown by Small Changes.
Henrietta Graham, PhD Researcher, Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University
This article is reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the first article.