Do you remember your first handwriting lesson as a child? Chances are your teacher didn’t just put the alphabet in front of you and tell you to “go for it”. Instead, you began with many repetitions of the letter “a” until writing that letter became second nature to you. Once you had it down pat, it became a motivating factor for wanting to make your “b” just as lovely.
Personally, I could hardly wait to be able to write like the “big kids” at school, and so I made a heroic attempt to form all of my letters at once, in order to quickly get to the fluid part of writing. The result was maddening and frustrating. My letters were utterly illegible, and I ended up feeling like a complete failure.
Fortunately, my teacher taught me that having the patience to perfect just a single letter of the alphabet before worrying about the others would eventually start a chain reaction that made it easier to progress to the “b,” then the “c,” and so on. Before I knew it, I was there, and I have not had to start from square one since.
The same thing is true with losing weight.
Losing weight, like learning to write, can be overwhelming if you think you have to learn all of the proper eating and exercising behaviours at the same time.
You can’t suddenly expect to change years of improper eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle overnight, like rubbing on a magic genie lamp. Eventually you figure out there is no such thing as a genie that twitches her nose and transforms you into your slimmer alter ego.
Here's an idea that is even better than having a personal genie, because you will learn to tap into the real genie within.
How do you get it to surface? You can start that chain reaction of weight loss success by selecting just ONE healthy behaviour to work on at a time. Then go to the next.
It doesn’t even have to be a major change. You could, for instance, simply increase your water intake by just one glass a day for the next couple of weeks. You will eventually perform this behaviour effortlessly and naturally.
When you see how easy that was, I promise you will be fired up for the next challenge. And then the next, and that is exactly how lifestyle behaviour changes take hold. Are you ready to test the power of ONE for yourself?
Here's how to start losing weight
Begin by writing a list of ONES. Include all of the healthy dieting and exercise behaviours you think you need to work on, until they are second nature. Each list is individual, and you can jot down as many positive weight loss behaviors as you choose.
One step kick start
- One extra 20-minute walk on Saturdays.
- One extra glass of water each day.
- One less snack during the day each day.
- One more serving of vegetables or fruit.
- One 5-minute session of deep breathing in the morning.
- One minute of positive affirmations at the beginning of each day.
- One song on the radio each day, to which you dance freely.
- One meal that includes low fat, healthy foods, each day.
- One less temptation hanging around in the fridge.
- One compliment that you give yourself without fail, each day.
- One minute of sit-ups before bed each night.
- One weigh-in a week to keep track of progress without obsessing.
Now choose a single behaviour and don’t worry about the others on the list until you have mastered the one change you have targeted. Work on it for at least a couple of weeks, before beginning work on another one.
Notice how you feel once you have mastered each new positive habit. Notice how much more motivated you are to get right on to the next one.
Proceed this way until you have mastered your entire list. This is a satisfying, and very doable approach to weight loss, which inevitably snowballs from single behavioural changes, to an entire lifestyle overhaul.
This Power of One approach is a painless way to finally succeed at getting and staying fit. Give it a try and see if it works for you. Remember to centre your energy on the behaviour you have chosen for the day, and don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by other things you must do.
Start with the “a” and before you know it you will be on “z” and everything will come together naturally. In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “One today is worth two tomorrows."