Jill Koegel is a registered dietician and certified personal trainer based in Omaha. She blogs every Wednesday for Livewellnebraska.com. Read more from Jill here.
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A little bit of this and a little bit of that can often make a BIG difference. Positive or negative, the small things add up.
Exercising just a bit more, or a bit differently, can change the way your body uses food for energy. Eating a bit more or less or differently can also change the way you burn calories. Changing your behavior with small steps over time will help you reach your goals in the long run.
So ask yourself: What is your “bit?”
A “bit” more exercise means more than you're doing now. Start with an achievable goal. I suggest adding thirty minutes per week to your current routine. If you're already at your maximum minutes, try changing the type of exercise you do. If you're stuck in a treadmill rut, take a spin class, go for a long walk outside or try yoga. Do one new type of workout each week.
If nutrition is your problem area, try eating a "bit" less. What does that mean? Take note of how you eat now – that last sip of juice at the bottom of the container, crusts from your child's sandwich at lunch, the chocolate kiss sitting in the candy dish at the bank, a bite of ice cream after dinner, a few nuts from the oatmeal you made for breakfast tomorrow. These little bites add up. Cutting out the mindless eating and keeping only purposeful meals and snacks is hard. Here are some suggestions:
• Consciously leave a few bites worth of food on your plate at every meal
• Limit evening eating
• Avoid calories from sugary beverages
• Cut out fried foods
• Record everything you eat
Whatever you decide, these are all little things that add up when you do them consistently. Looking at change as little "bits" makes it easier to get started and cumulatively will allow you to see some immediate results.
Yes, this is a “soft” approach. But the truth is, the “hard” approach doesn't work for most people long term. If you've struggled with the word “diet,” you'll have more success by working on your little "bits."