The Power of (Small) Habits

by Michael Plank

Especially if you’ve worked with Coach Jess on nutrition, you know how much we’re into a habits-based approach to change. What does that mean? Habits are powerful. Habits are mindless. Habits are things you do without thinking; even if you’re tired, even if you’re hungry, even if you’re busy. Brushing your teeth is a habit. Checking social media when your alarm goes off in the morning is a habit. Drinking coffee is a habit. They’re automatic.

Most of us want health and wellness to be like that. We want to live a life where eating a balanced meal is a habit, going to the gym is a habit, being hydrated is a habit. We want a life where we can do all the things we need to do to take care of our bodies and minds and have it not feel like work.

That life IS possible! (And we can help you do it). But the best way to start is to start small. Way smaller than you think.

We start habit coaching by working on low-hanging fruit; stuff that you know would be almost mindlessly easy, you just don’t do it yet. Want to be better hydrated? Can you drink 8oz of water between cups of coffee? No? What about 4oz? What about 2oz? What’s the least amount where you know you’ll be successful? Do you want to be more flexible? Can you stretch for 5 minutes after each class you attend? No? What about 2 minutes? What about 1?

This teeny-tiny, step-by-step approach works. BUT, we almost always get pushback. Because does 2 extra ounces of water each day really matter? Does 30 seconds of stretching twice a week really make a difference?

Yes. It does. Not at first… I’ll give you that… but it builds. We’ve seen it. And I bet you’ve seen it too.

Imagine that you’re in a room and there’s a giant block of ice in front of you; it’s huge, 3 feet square. The room is cold – really cold – let’s say it’s 26 degrees. Let’s say you’ve got a button you can push once every 10 minutes, and each time you push it, it will raise the room temperature by one degree. You push it and it goes to 27. You push it again and it goes to 28. You push it every 10 minutes for an hour and nothing happens to that giant ice block. But then you push it one more time and the temperature goes from 32 degrees up to 33 degrees.

You know what’s going to happen to that ice block now, right? You remember science class? Those little teeny-tiny step-by-step incremental changes to the temperature do make a difference. Because now that we’ve hit 33 degrees, as big as it is, as heavy, and solid as it is… as insignificant as one tiny degree is…

Now… that ice is going to melt.


Why Does It Take SO Long…

by Jess Pino-Goodspeed

A client came to me recently and said how badly she wanted to achieve her body composition goals and how frustrated she was that it was taking so long. “Why does it take so long to see the changes?” I had the opportunity to have an open and honest conversation about the importance of taking a long-term approach to our health and wellness goals and why the quick fix isn’t the way to go.


I will warn you that taking a long-term approach and truly taking the time to learn habits and make them part of a daily routine is not sexy and it is not quick. This stuff takes effort and time, and it is not a quick fix. 


Taking a long-term approach to improving our nutrition means we have intent, objectives, goals, and a mission to accomplish not only short-term goals but also long-term goals. The big picture mission is simple, we want to be happy, healthy, and strong – both mentally and physically. Being consistent with healthy habits like drinking water, exercising, sleeping, meal prepping, and eating real foods is key to accomplishing your long-term goals. When we take the time to learn these healthy habits, that is when we sustain healthy behaviors and we achieve the results we are so desperately seeking.  


Intent without action accomplishes nothing.


Many of us want to get to ideal body composition, losing weight and body fat. Setting those goals is the easy part. Being accountable for those goals and doing the smaller, often deemed “not so sexy” action items that lead to goal achievement is where the real work happens (that’s where working with a nutrition coach in customized nutrition programs and ongoing coaching is important.)


First, let’s start with mapping out a long-term approach. Follow these 3 steps:


Step 1: Begin with the end in mind: What do you want to achieve? What will it take to get there?


Step 2: Start small. The little wins will snowball into larger wins down the hill. Consistency wins.


Step 3: Establish SMART Goals.


What’s a SMART goal? Glad you asked!


S – Specific; Should be simple and defined what you are going to do.

M – Measure; Tangible evidence so you can achieve the goal.

A – Attainable; They should push you just outside your comfort zone.

R – Results-Focused; Goals should measure outcomes, not activities.

T – Time-Bound; Goals should be linked to a time frame that creates a sense of urgency.


Here’s an example of what it looks like to map out nutrition goals over the course of a year:


I will lose 30 pounds and 8% body fat this year.


I will work with my nutrition coach for at least a year to stay accountable and have a customized nutrition coaching program.


I will eat a balanced breakfast using the plate method at least 4/7 days this week.


I will meal prep dinners with 3 compartment containers with balanced portions of lean proteins, green vegetables, healthy fats, and healthy carbohydrates for the next month to deal with busy times of the day.


I will eat balanced plates with lean proteins, green vegetables, healthy fats, and healthy carbohydrates, and have a glass of water instead of regular soda with that meal for at least 2 meals per day in the next 3 months.


In the next 6 months, I will log my meals daily to learn about my macronutrient balance, and work with my nutrition coach to stay accountable to losing 15 pounds in my customized nutrition coaching program.


This year, I will enlist the support of a coworker, family member, or friend at the gym as another accountability partner to make sure that we are eating healthy balanced meals 90% of the time, and getting to the gym at least 3-4 times per week.


It’s your turn! What does it look like for YOU to take a long-term approach when it comes to YOUR nutrition? 


Map it out, and book a free nutrition consultation to sit down with me – UPCF’s nutrition coach – to get a plan in place for accomplishing your long term goals! If it sounds like it’s going to take a long time, remember that a nutrition coach will be there with you every step of the way.