Diet blog: why micro-resolutions work

Judith Wills / 07 September 2016

Our diet expert puts micro-resolutions into practice and manages to lose eight pounds in three weeks.



I wrote recently about the book Small Move, Big Change: using microresolutions to transform your life permanently, by Caroline L. Arnold, and how impressed I was by the premises in it.  I promised to let you know how I got on by using its main ideas – making minute changes rather than sweeping ones, and making tiny decisions, one at a time, to help break bad habits.

After a year of doing less exercise than I had intended (worsening lung problems plus a recent asthma diagnosis didn’t help with that) and probably eating a little more than I had intended, three weeks ago I knew I would definitely benefit from losing a good 8 – 10 pounds.

And do you know what? The method has worked brilliantly. Simply ignoring tomorrow, ignoring the next hour or the next meal, and making small decisions in the minute, is such an easy way to get what you want done, done.  For example, yesterday I made a small decision at breakfast time that I didn’t feel very hungry and so instead of mindlessly dishing out what I would normally eat, I plated up just a couple of walnut halves, a few almonds and a quarter of a ripe nectarine, all of which I love.  Easy decision, probably 250 calories saved.

More small steps to big health benefits

At lunchtime we had a nice ripe avocado sitting there so I made an old-fashioned lunch with the halves filled with cooked prawns.  Instead of slathering on loads of French dressing, I took a second to make the small decision to sprinkle over some good balsamic vinegar instead.  As the avo is ‘good oil’-rich, I didn’t need more good but calorific olive oil, did I?  My husband sliced himself some bread and added butter.  I made another decision to have a dark rye Ryvita instead.  Lastly I made the decision to eat slowly and savour every mouthful, which indeed I did.

Around 5pm, husband came into our offices clutching the last of the Kitkats he’d bought and offered me half.  Now I love Kitkat as much as the next person, but I found it surprisingly easy to say “No thanks, I’m not hungry at the moment”. 

At suppertime, I cooked salmon served with spinach, new potatoes and green beans.  I dished up Husband’s meal, then before I served mine, I took time to remember to microresolve – and gave myself half the amount of potatoes I would have done had I not concentrated on what I was doing.  In truth, I had plenty to eat.

I’ve also managed to make micro decisions about the number of glasses of wine I drink, mainly by putting off the moment I pour in the evening. 

Are you drinking more than you think?

In the three weeks, I’ve lost eight pounds – for me, a massive amount in that time.  When I went on the Saga diet challenge a few years ago, I lost 5 pounds in the first month and then about 2lbs a month afterwards.  The point is, there is no worrying about a long harsh diet regime, you just need to concentrate each time you are in a food or drink situation and make a sensible tiny choice.  It suits me, anyway, and the more positive little decisions you make, the more of a habit it becomes and the easier it gets.

Husband said this morning, “Good Lord, you’re looking a lot slimmer – how have you done that?  I haven’t noticed you being on a diet!”   

I’ve also, this week, made two microdecisions about exercise – I went over to the barn and did two sessions on the treadmill, stepper and rower, all pieces of equipment that haven’t seen me in a long time.  My mindset of recent times is altering – and I feel altogether good about that.

How to do more exercise without even noticing

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