Small Changes Make Big Impact.

They say it takes 66 days to make a new behavior into a habit. I love this. This is a challenge. 66 days is way more than the common 30 day challenges. But if you make sure the behavior is small enough – comparable to brushing your teeth in the morning – and if it is a habit that will enhance your life in some way, then surely you can do it for 66 days…

Here’s my short list of criteria for improving your health YOUR WAY:

  • Baby steps, mini changes – break down a big goal into micro steps, one at a time
  • Only do what sounds exciting for YOU (don’t just follow the newest trend – UNLESS it truly resonates with you – then absolutely go for it)
  • Don’t be afraid to make your own rules – if it will help you succeed, get creative and make changes to find what works best for you.
  • Try for 66 days then add on a new small change – keep moving forward.

To illustrate what I mean, I’ll tell you my story of how my commitment to sugar (my starting place) and a series of small changes, took me from feeling sluggish and overwhelmed, to stronger and more energetic than I ever expected.

When I decided I felt bad enough to begin the chore of getting back on track with my health, I started with my diet. I knew that what I ate had the greatest impact on how I felt – it just makes sense. The trouble was, I wasn’t ready for a diet overhaul. I liked all the carbs, the sweets, the wine. Can you relate? So, I decided I needed to do this on MY terms. I would make a REALLY small change and since I was making the rules, I committed to NOT giving up ANY of my favorite things. Yup – I didn’t give anything up, I committed to continuing to eat what I wanted, I just made a small shift.

My instincts told me gluten might be causing problems with my skin and energy levels, but I really liked it and I really liked my sweets, so I figured if I was going to do this slowly (I tried going cold turkey and it only backfired), I wouldn’t eliminate, I would cut back – to only once a day. AND, it would be in my favorite form – a giant chocolate chip cookie. At the time I thought of it as an experiment. It was definitely an improvement over eating gluten containing foods and sugar throughout the day, but I wasn’t sure it was enough of a change to be effective. I decided to find out.

Sure enough, my instincts were right. Just by cutting back gluten for several weeks (btw – I did NOT substitute with gluten free products, I chose whole food options: i.e. more fruits and veggies) I had way more energy, my headaches went away, my skin cleared up, etc. I also naturally started craving fresh fruits and vegetables. That change ended up feeling so good that gradually, over 4 years later – most of my diet is gluten and sugar free and as long as it continues to work for my body, I don’t intend to change anytime soon.

Several weeks after the success of the gluten experiment, I was ready for the next small change. Since I finally had energy for exercise, I started building in my favorite activity – YOGA. 20 – 30 minutes a few days a week, at home with youtube. Again, a small commitment, but that lasted WAY more than 66 days – 4 years later, I continue to do yoga several times a week for about 30 minutes. I love it and I’ve never been stronger.

These, and many more small changes, (getting up 15 min earlier for meditation, cooking more homemade meals, a re-commitment to learning – give it up for audiobooks!) started to stick – and now my lifestyle has shifted to a place that feels really great for me. Because I view this as a lifestyle – I expect I will keep adding in small changes forever.

If I can do this – YOU can too! If you take a minute to think about what you want for your life and your health, what comes to mind? Do you want more energy? Do you want to feel stronger? More flexible? Is there an activity you’d love to get back to? Take the next few days to think about just ONE small change you can make, see how it feels after 66 days, then watch what happens in your life!!