Little Decisions Add Up to Big Benefits

It’s really about the little decisions that we make all day long that can make a difference between losing the weight you want and staying the same or regaining. I suppose it’s true overall in life as well – almost every decision you make at work, at home or within relationships makes some impact.

When I was struggling with being 305 pounds, I couldn’t see the value or the danger of those little decisions I made all day long. For example, I didn’t really consider that every time I ate an extra slab of brownie or a second order of fries, I was pushing myself further into obesity. I just thought of those choices as “bad” and kept making them. I never really thought about the fact that because I chose to sleep late and sit around 97% of the day, I was robbing myself of the opportunity to burn some calories and just maybe move on the path to wellness. Nor did I think about every little decision I made at the grocery store being a wise or unwise decision.

All I saw was the “whole” problem. I was fat. I was unhappy. I was powerless.

Or so I thought. I wasn’t powerless at all. It was within my power to make those little decisions that would put me on the right path — but those decisions were hard to make.

I’d encourage you to think about the differences that small decisions can make in your life.

If I had not eaten a 200-calorie candy bar every day, and not changed any other decision  – I’d have saved 6,000 calories in a month. Enough to lose about 1 lb. But more important than the calorie saving would have been the triumph and control I would have felt by not giving into every whim.

If I had taken a short walk, I’d have burned a few calories – and probably felt better about myself.

If I hadn’t let my appearance go to the extent that I did – I’d have retained some of my self-esteem that had fallen into the abyss by taking care of myself.

If I hadn’t hidden my food problems from other people – I may have been able to freely admit that I had a problem rather than just reassuring everyone and myself that all was well.

The decisions you make now can have a huge impact on your health. According to the CDC, losing 10 percent of your body weight reduces your risk of heart disease and can help bring your blood pressure lower. If you weigh 200 pounds, 10 percent is just 20 pounds. Definitely possible – especially when you think about making one small decision after another until you reach your goals.

Losing weight, just like other things in life, is about decisions. We don’t always make perfect decisions, but if you make more good ones than not, you can reach your goals.

Any thoughts on the importance of small decisions? Diane

28 thoughts on “Little Decisions Add Up to Big Benefits

  1. blackhuff says:

    I agree with you. I too had to decide to not give into my craving for fast food yesterday. The whole day yesterday, I had a craving for fast food until I went to sleep. It was so difficult to get through the day with that craving, especially my work being 20 metres from a pizza place but I did it. Today is much better than yesterday. I do not have the fast food craving anymore 🙂
    So I agree, making small decisions do help in loosing the weight and maintaining it.

  2. Roxie says:

    Dealing with morbid obesity (120 pounds overweight) felt like an overwhelming problem. To tell myself that I had to be “good” forever just impossible. So I had to break it down into making the next right decision. I couldn’t conceive of giving up “insert favorite food” forever, but I could make a decision to leave it behind for right now. I would tell myself that there would be plenty of whatever to have later. I “small decisioned” myself into a big weight loss and have maintained it for a while, as thinking about the “whole” solution just felt too big and impossible. As they say in 12 step programs, Just For Today.

  3. Amy says:

    So true! Breaking it down into small steps makes it a lot more manageable. But like you said, often it is hard to take our attention off the “big” problem as a whole and focus on the little habits and details that seem so insignificant. What we weigh a year from now is totally dependent on all those little decisions we make day by day. It all adds up in the end and it is up to us to decide what direction we want to go!

  4. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Diane, you said it!!! In this everything right now culture, people just are not patient with the weight loss goal… but every small step & decision adds up improvement long term. Great post Diane!

  5. MB says:

    Excellent post! Every decision, no matter how small, makes a difference. Just like one piece of cake shouldn’t be a reason to throw your hands in the air and give up the fight. It was just one decision to eat one piece of cake. I’ve broken out of that all or nothing dieting mentality and don’t beat myself up for indulging once in a while. It’s all good.

  6. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    Yes, all the “small things” we choose to do (or not to do) all day long really make a difference. There was a point in my life when I thought “it didn’t matter” but it does. And once you change your thinking and pay attention to the small things, your life will change.

  7. Desert Agave says:

    Great post. I’ve been thinking about small decisions a lot recently. I came to realize that my weight loss slow down might have a lot to do with some extra nibbling I’ve been doing — a bite of fruit here, a few cashews there. Small decisions that have added up to the scale barely moving.

  8. Babbalou says:

    Diane, for me the idea of small decisions or small changes was the key to losing weight. So many times when I was heavier, I’d think if I somehow magically woke up thin one day, that I could surely maintain it. I just couldn’t bring myself to start yet another overly restrictive diet that left me constantly hungry. So one day I decided to see what would happen if I pretended I was thin. How would I eat? How much exercise would I do to maintain? Thinking back on how I’d lost weight in the past, I eliminated all white carbs and focused on eating lots of produce and reasonable portions of lean protein. But I didn’t count calories or otherwise act like I was on a diet. I simply changed the way I ate and started walking a much as I could. After a while I was walking a great deal, but it was pleasant so I kept at it. And so without “dieting” I started losing the weight. So if anyone else can’t stand the idea of a “diet” maybe go straight to a maintenance plan – it may work.

  9. Tracey @ I'm Not Superhuman says:

    I so agree! I love reading things that say something along the lines of “If you eat 200 extra calories per day you’ll gain five pounds in a year” or something. It’s amazing how all the little things that seem like nothing really add up.

  10. Karen says:

    Some times I have made a very small decision to have a treat that lead to a major binge. Sigh. So each thing I put in mouth is a bigger decision than it may seem.

  11. Debbie says:

    I can’t seem to make these decisions. It feels like a brick wall. I know all the reasons why I should get on the path to wellness, and they are BIG reasons… yet there seems to be something physically stopping me. My legs just won’t move, but my hands can still reach for the wrong food choices. I keep telling myself to just get out there already and walk just around the block… I see just how weak my legs have become, though, they’ve never failed me before. I’m getting older, approaching 50, and know that my body is not what it used to be…. which is very healthy, no matter what weight I was. I guess I took some pride in that I was healthier than most normal weight people, was stronger and more flexible than most of my friends. That is not the case now, and I’ve got to make myself get humble and fix things…..

  12. Sunny says:

    It’s ALL about the small decisions, sometimes minute by minute, that will make or break our dieting/getting healthy/looking better/life. We can face the hard decisions, practice delayed gratification, or succumb. We make the choice. But the beauty is, every choice is a new opportunity to turn our lives around. Each and every one. 🙂

  13. fd says:

    this is so true and i’ve experienced it in my life. i’ve been struggling again with it recently but i know in my heart of hearts that every single is both as important and unimportant as you let it be. important if you take the good ones and acknowledge them and build on them. unimportant if you make a bad decision, and just acknowledge that it shouldn’t be the be-all-and-end-all and get on with making more decisions.

    but what’s really difficult is starting to make those first decisions, taking the very first steps and then making the first good decisions again after ‘falling off the wagon’ that really reinforce your own confidence to make the right decisions.
    for me, embracing the idea of ‘abundance’ was really helpful for making the small decisions. i could not eat the next brownie because i believed there would always be brownies when i needed/wanted them. i could unstick myself from the couch watching tv, because there would always be good shows to watch later. i would not eat this extra slice of bread with dinner, if i needed some before bed it would still be there etc.

  14. Dr. J says:

    It isn’t just with weight loss where those little decisions end up making a big difference in our lives, or the lives of others. May we all choose wisely!

  15. Charity Moore says:

    Two for two Diane! You always seem to have a post to really make me think about things I have been trying to dismiss in my head. Where I work, I sit behind a desk ALL Day! But when I come in the morning, instead of taking the stairs up just one flight from the parking deck to my office, I take the elevator! How lazy is that? I just think about all the calories burned that would add up just from taking the stairs. And I could park on the lowest level of the parking deck and actually take 3 flights of stairs to my office..shocking! I just keep thinking baby steps.

  16. Taryl says:

    I concur! The entire day is just a mass of decisions, most small, that culminate and become what defines us. It is absolutely just a matter of recognizing the problem and, in the very next decision, choosing to do better. This morning that meant saying no to sugary coffee and lasagna leftovers in favor of some oatmeal and milk, in terms of food. It wasn’t a big decision, and yet, it sets the tone for the entire day.

  17. RNegade says:

    Wonderful post! I especially applaud the reminder about the significant health benefits that can follow from a 10% reduction in body weight. People tend to miss that fact in our all-or-nothing cultural obsession with thinness. Even a 30 lb weight loss from a 300 lb body can result in a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. As a matter of fact, when I set out to improve my health, through improved exercise and nutrition, I could not fathom the benefits that I would feel from a 10% reduction in weight. However, I felt stronger and had more stamina. That experience encouraged me to keep going.

    Perfection is not a requirement for improved health. 🙂

    People can be encouraged to reduce their health risks and improve their mobility (even though society may still judge them as too plump). Sometimes in our quest for optimum health (or even our quest for superiority and/or the illusion of control), we forget there are other options: improved health and happier lives. 🙂

    Great discussion!

  18. 'Drea says:

    You’re right about small decisions adding up. I tend to sit at my desk just about all day at work. I need to remember to get up and move on the hour or something.

    I read somewhere that even if you’re active, sitting all day is not good for ya…

  19. Fran says:

    Not really thoughts about it but this is a very good post. It made me think while reading it. I always look at the big picture, I look at my final destination but in the meantime I sometimes forget the small decisions and I think that’s why I’m maintaining right now, no small decisions of saying no to certain foods at a time.

    Thanks for this post, it helped me a lot and as of tomorrow I’m going to make a decision every time I want to eat something that isn’t good for me and by doing that I will definitely reach my destination.

  20. Allison says:

    I love this post! It’s so true! I made the same decision and I can’t even begin to describe the impact a series of small decisions made in my life. It actually changed the course of my life completely!

  21. Miz says:

    I agree agree agree!!
    for me it is in all arenas the tiny things which make the biggest impact—-and usually I only (still. even now :)) see that with hindsight.

    it all reminds me of my fave quote about enjoying the little things as some day you may look back and realize the were the big things.

  22. Leah says:

    It’s the small decisions that are getting cemented little by little that are leading to bigger results. You are so right on with this point.

    There are days I want to obsess over not being farther along in my journey, but I have to remind myself that the small better choices will add up. I also have to remind myself that I need to be careful about making small bad decisions, because they too will add up to a result that I may not like so much.

  23. John W. Zimmer says:

    Hi Diane,

    It is the little decisions we have power over, at least that is what works for me. You can show me the bigger goal that seems overwhelming – but one meal at a time I can do. 🙂

    By the way I’ve not had any candy yet! Normally I’ve put away several pounds by now. 🙂

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