In the past, I’ve attempted plenty of healthy changes to my lifestyle but always struggled to stick to them. I’d tried walking 10,000 steps a day, cutting out chocolate, cutting out alcohol and attempted the couch to 5k challenge but have been unable to stick at them for more than a few days.
So, over the past few weeks I have attempted a series of micro changes, which are designed to be small and achievable adjustments to my lifestyle. I hoped this strategy would help me follow through with my plans (for a change) and help me develop the foundations of a healthier lifestyle. Even though some of the micro changes I attempted were almost laughably small, when combined and maintained for a long period of time they have the potential to have a significant impact on my health.
I am now at the end of my journey having made six micro changes over a period of weeks, benefiting my activity levels, food and drink intake as well as my sleeping pattern. In each of my previous blogs, I tried to give a quantified prediction of both the short and long-term health benefits. Today, I’ll be revisiting these micro changes as well as investigating the potential benefits to my health when they are combined.
Firstly, to give myself the best chance of generating a pattern of achieving my goals, I wanted to make my micro change in week one as achievable as possible. I decided to reduce the number of teaspoons of sugar I have in my hot drinks from two to one. This was incredibly easy implement and if I keep it up for a whole year, I’ll have consumed 4380 grams less of sugar and saved over 17,500 calories. That’s the equivalent of over 4 kilograms of sugar and over 5 pounds of fat! See more HERE
In week two, I decided to tackle my evening meals by focusing on the order I put different food types on my plate. Originally, I was placing carbohydrates on my plate first and my vegetables last, so simply swapped this over so that I was putting the veg on first and carbs last. I made this micro change in the hope that I’d end up eating fewer carbohydrates, more vegetables and achieving a better balance to my meals. By making this change I ended up consuming 27 grams of carbohydrates less and reduced my daily calorie intake by 122 calories. If I kept this up for a year I consume almost 10 kilograms fewer carbohydrates and save 44,500 calories. That’s the equivalent of just over 12 pounds of fat!
Week three saw a micro change which had a number of benefits, a couple of which were unexpected. I simply decided to walk to the local shops for the essentials rather than drive as I always had done before. If nothing else, I was hoping this would help me get a few extra steps in each day and help increase my activity levels. However, not only did I become slightly more active, this change also prompted me to think twice before purchasing treats and extras, meaning I consumed fewer calories than before as well as saving a little bit of money. If I can maintain this for a year, I’d end up walking over 180,000 extra steps, saving over £350 on treat food as well as burning / saving an additional 110,000 calories! That’s over two stone in weight!
In the fourth week, I hoped to challenge my activity level son week days having found myself to be spending an ever increasing amount of time sat on the sofa in the evening in addition the whole of my working day seated in front of my laptop. I set an alarm on my phone every hour from 10 am to 5 pm to signal the time for me to get up form my computer and walk up and down the stairs. In the evening I did this between episodes or during ad breaks.Overall, I made sure I was getting up from my seat once per hour at least 12 times a day, although I found myself doing a little more than that more often than not. Not only did I feel better mentally for having a short time away from a screen, I also ended up taking an additional 600 steps per day. If I kept this up on Monday to Friday every week for a year, I’ll be taking an additional 156,000 steps which roughly equates 7,000 calories or two pounds of fat.
After four successful weeks of micro changes, on week five I decided to face up to the fact I’d been consuming alcohol more regularly than I ever had before. Although I was only having a couple of drinks at a time, I found myself consuming alcohol most evenings and was staggered to find out that I was consuming well over the recommended maximum of 14 units per week. I allowed myself to drink on a Friday and Saturday if I wanted to, but replaced my alcohol with a square or two of chocolate during the week. Over a week, I reduced my alcohol intake from 27 units to 6 as well as saving 1,200 calories. Over a year, this is a saving of 1,092 units of alcohol and a staggering 62,400 calories, the equivalent of 17 pounds of fat!
My final micro change in week six, focused on improving the quality of my sleep. I’d found myself going to bed later and later during lockdown and suffering from a lack of energy because of this. I set myself the target of a“lights-out” time, ensuring I was in bed with my phone screen and TV turned off by midnight. The minimum expectation was that I’d feel more awake in the morning and hoped that the greater energy levels would encourage me to be more active and help me focus. Not only did I increase my sleep from just over five hours to eight, I also found that I was a little more active each day without even realising, increasing my average steps from 7,000 per day to 9,000. This means that I’d gain an additional 1,000 hours of quality sleep over a year as well as taking an additional 750,000 steps. That’s the equivalent of approximately 30,000 calories or over 8 pounds of fat!
So, what happens if I combine the benefits of each of the above micro changes over a whole year? If you’re not sitting down at the moment, I’d recommend finding a chair as this is truly mind blowing…
By simply having one less teaspoon of sugar in my coffee,putting veg on my plate first and carbs on last, walking up and down the stairs every hour, walking to the shops three times a week, limiting my alcohol consumption to weekends and getting a good nights sleep I could potentially achieve the following:
Of course, it would be naïve to expect myself to maintain each of these micro changes every single day. But, if I can manage them more often than not, the above numbers show the astonishing potential such small changes can have to my health.
This all goes to show that you don’t need to make a significant to change to your lifestyle to make a significant change to your health.
Thank you for indulging in my blogs over the past few weeks. I sincerely hope they have been as helpful for you as they have for me.
P.S. I double checked the numbers as I couldn’t quite believe them initially. Trust me, they’re correct. Amazing isn’t it!?
July 13, 2020