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We’ve all heard the story of the tortoise and the hare. “Slow and steady wins the race”, said your parents as they attempted to teach you the value of patience and persistence. That, of course, went in one ear and out the other. Today I’m going to make a case for the ole’ tortoise and explain how you can lose weight faster (and achieve any life goal faster) by using the concept of small wins.
The Tortoise and The Hare
Before we talk about what small wins are, let’s look at an example. Let’s call our hare Ashley and our tortoise Brooke. Ashley decided to try the keto diet. She didn’t enjoy a high fat, low carb diet, but she was desperate to lose weight, so she tried it anyway and lost 10 pounds in the first week! (This is pretty common on the keto diet due to a large drop in water weight.)
With her expectations high, she headed into week 2, where she only lost 2 pounds. She was disappointed, but she soldiered on. Things continued to slow. During week 5, she didn’t lose any weight and even gained one pound in week 6. Saddened by her lack of progress, Ashley gave up and went back to her previous habits, regaining 7 of the 12.5 pounds she had lost.
Brooke, on the other hand, set out with the goal of simply making small wins. She only adjusted one small habit at a time, mastering that habit before moving on to the next. Her weight loss started out slow and gradually picked up to a moderate and steady pace. In the same seven weeks, she lost 10 pounds, which is nearly double the weight Ashley lost.
As you might have guessed by now, small wins are small, easy-to-change habits. We’ll call them micro habits. Changing a micro habits allows you to score a “small win”. The beauty of the small win is, even though changing one micro habit doesn’t automatically lead to drastic results, successfully changing one micro habits does add to the belief that you can successfully start and finish something.
When you’ve successfully changed a micro habit, you can add onto that same habit or you can implement a second micro habit to go along with the first. Either way, as you continue, you’re getting more and more wins under your belt. This does two things:
You’re continually reinforcing the fact that you can actually succeed in changing habits and can achieve the goal you’ve set for yourself.
You’re reaping results that are compounding with every single micro habit you master.
Small Win Examples
Below I’ve listed several examples of habits you can implement. They are listed in order of difficulty on a scale from 1 - 5, where 5 is the hardest. Simply pick the habit from the list that sounds easiest for you and do it. Seriously, I mean do it now. When you’re done, take a moment to savor that sweet feeling of accomplishment.
|Replace one soft drink with water||1|
|Replace one unhealthy snack with a healthy option||1|
|Buy a food scale||1|
|Take the stairs instead of elevator/escalator||1|
|Download My Fitness Pal||1|
|Do 10 air squats during a commercial break||1|
|Pack your lunch instead of buying it for one day||1|
|Pack your gymbag||1|
|Add a song to a workout playlist||1|
|Add one cup of water to your daily intake||1|
|Put a spare pair of running shoes in your car||1|
|Complete one home workout||2|
|Walk around the park||2|
|Take a walking break at work||2|
|Track one meal with My Fitness Pal||2|
|Complete one workout at the gym||3|
|Sign up with a group fitness class or a trainer||3|
|Complete two home workouts in one week||3|
|Track one meal each day for a week with My Fitness Pal||3|
|Do 10 air squats during each commercial break||3|
|Complete two workouts at the gym in one week||4|
|Track all meals for a week in My Fitness Pal||4|
|Hit a specific Calorie target for a day||4|
|Hit a specific Protein target for a day||4|
|Hit a specific Fiber target for a day||4|
|Hit a specific Calorie target each day for a week||5|
|Hit a specific Protein target each day for a week||5|
|Hit a specific Fiber target each day for a week||5|
|Replace all soft drinks with water||5|
When beginning the small wins strategy, you must choose a habit with a difficulty score of 1. There are no exceptions to this rule, period. These tasks will likely feel “too easy”. That’s the point. This whole system hinges on continuously racking up wins. If you start by picking a difficult habit to change, you will eventually become frustrated and quit.
Small Wins Pitfall
The hard part in implementing the small wins strategy is the temptation to tackle multiple habits at once or tackle a complex habit too quickly. This is a recipe for failure. I’ve already said this but I’ll say it again. You must change only one habit at a time and it must be a simple one. The key to the small wins strategy is to compound win, after win, after win.
If you try to attack multiple habits at once or a habit that’s too complex, you will start draining your willpower reserves and eventually get frustrated, like Ashley. Remember, you are the tortoise, not the hare. We are working on lifelong habit changes, not a short term solution or a quick fix.
Your diet is NOT a habit.
You cannot choose changing your diet as a habit to change, because your diet is not “a” habit. Your diet is made up of hundreds of micro habits.
Do you eat because of stress?
Do you eat because you’re bored?
Do you grab fast food instead of packing your lunch?
Do you drink soft drinks instead of water?
Do you drink black coffee or coffee with sugar and cream?
When you cook, do you cook enough for leftovers?
When you want a snack, do you reach for an apple or a bag of chips?
These are only a few examples of the many interwoven habits that collectively make up your diet, each of which are more difficult than a 1 on our scale. When you look at it this way, are you really surprised that it was impossible for you to stick to the last diet you tried?
Pick one micro habit and own it. Then and only then, move on to the next one. If you change one micro habit at a time, you can eventually revolutionize your diet, exercise routine, and even your entire lifestyle. Even more importantly, it won’t suck. You’ll probably even have fun doing it.
Thank you so much for reading! If you found this information helpful and want to help the Treadaway Training blogcast grow, simply share this post with a friend. If you like what I have to say, sign up below to become a Treadaway Training insider and get notified for each blogcast and video. I will be back here Thursday with another fat loss topic. As always, God bless you AND your family and I'll see you Thursday.