There is an extraordinarily powerful ripple effect from one small change.
Folks often decide to make drastic and sweeping changes because they want immediate results. Not only are these choices difficult to commit to and maintain, you can actually set yourself up for failure before you start. A 2002 study confirmed the negative effects of committing to an aggressive diet:
This study examined the effect of anticipated food deprivation on intake in restrained and unrestrained eaters. Participants were randomly assigned to a diet condition, in which they expected to diet for a week, or to a control (no-diet) condition. … Restrained eaters in the diet condition consumed significantly more food than did restrained eaters in the no-diet condition or unrestrained eaters in either condition. Unrestrained eaters consumed the same amount regardless of condition. These results confirm that merely planning to go on a diet can trigger overeating.
I never advise a focus on denying yourself. In doing so, you’ll be blocked by the unnecessary barrier of thinking about what you can’t have.
Throughout my playing career, there were times when I wanted to make changes to my body composition. Although I liked to see quick results, I always started with a simple change. From Psychology Today:
Small steps are always easier to think about, and so to act on, than large ones.
If I was looking to add strength to feel sturdier in the batter’s box, I knew I had to add calories. My methodology was to make a quick, small change to gauge my body’s response. Rather than reevaluating my entire nutrition and strength training program, I’d do something subtle, like add food that I already regularly ingested. If I was in the habit of eating a steak and a sweet potato at lunch, I’d add 1/3 more meat and ¼ more starch, for example.
This simple mental change enabled me to feel stronger as soon as that night’s game. Was I going to hit the ball harder? Perhaps, but not because I was immediately more powerful physically. It was the new commitment that improved my confidence and led to improved results.
Instead of beating yourself up for failing at an overly taxing workout or incredibly restrictive diet, committing to a small change enables you to feel proud of successes. Each success breeds confidence and motivation to keep moving forward to a healthier, stronger body and mind.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage.