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The Secrets of Success: Start Small to Achieve Big Results

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Every journey begins with a single step--even your journey to a healthier you. We know that losing weight and improving your health isn't something that happens overnight but rather gradually, as small steps add up to something bigger. That tip is just one bit of advice we learned from our top members, the ones who lost weight and stuck with it. Until now, their sage advice has not been shared on the dailySpark and was found only in our best-selling book, The Spark. These strategies are so effective that we wanted to shout them from the rooftops, so we decided to share our 15 favorite Secrets of Success on the dailySpark from March 1-15.

Secret #7: Start small to achieve big results.

Almost 80 percent of successful members started with small steps, and once they built a firm foundation, they went from there. Dieters were more likely to start with big goals and go all out trying to lose weight fast.

Once upon a time, I weighed 40 pounds more than I do now. I ate fast food. I didn't exercise. And I didn't respect my body. Today I'm a vegetarian yoga teacher who's training for my first half-marathon. How did I become the person I am today? Slowly, deliberately, and respectfully. One less glass of wine, eating at home instead of ordering takeout, and five more minutes at a time on the elliptical. I'm happier and healthier--and I never feel deprived.

Pound by pound, day by day, I reached my goal weight--and so will you!

VIDEO: "We Lost 140 Pounds Together as Husband and Wife"

Stay Motivated with SparkStreaks

3 Non-Diet, Non-Exercise Ways to Prevent Obesity in Kids

Are the Secrets of Success helping you? If so, then Spread the Spark by clicking the green "Share" button below.

Miss a secret? Find all the rest of the series of 15 here (a new one is posted every day). For all 27 secrets and to learn how to fit them into your life, read this.

What small step toward a better you did you take today?

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CHERYLHURT 2/16/2020
Great Report
thanks Report
great Report
Great article! Report
I'm trying to cut out all fast food Report
I started by going to the gym once a week, because i simply had not time for more. Although this was not enough for lossing weight, it kept me from gaining even more and got me familiar with regular work out. Now i have the time and go at least 3 times a week. Report
My small steps have been measuring & weighing my proper portion controls, logging in my meals every day, and working on doing the strength training and cardio. I added some yoga in the mornings to give me a boost to my activities for the day and get my mind right. If I can add just a few more minutes or activities each day, I feel pretty GREAT with my small accomplishments. Report
the small step I made today? I ate correct portion sizes. Report
One small change I made about a year ago is one I had resisted for years. I switched to nonfat milk, which I never believed I would be able to learn to like. Last week on vacation, we stayed at a hotel that offered only 2% milk with breakfast, and I couldn't believe how overly rich it tasted on my morning cereal. One small change that didn't take very long to get used to at all, which has saved me a lot of calories and fat in a year. Report
Its a long haul and really no finish line. No to sound negative, it's reality. After I reach my goal weight I will NEVER put this weight back on. Which means I'll always exercise and watch what I'm eating. If I endulge one day I'll be on track for the rest of the week. These little goals are helping me to stay motivated. Report
I've just started walking 2 hours a day. I've just started doing yoga. Report
This secret is the key reason I am exercising today. I went from almost completely sedentary last August, to averaging 30 minutes of exercise a day in February. I started by committing to the "Chris Downie 10 minutes of exercise a day" plan. I still make sure to do the 10 minutes a day, no matter what, and it has made all the difference in the world to me. Even though most days I go more than 10 minutes, every day I am sure to do something. Thanks, Spark People! Report
My small step was volunteering. I worked construction today for Habitat for Humanity. Not only did I get a workout, but I helped others. Report
It's great to be here,and with all this fine info i'm certainly trying to make use of it,so that i can be more healthy and fit,a load of thanks to the spark guys. Report
Drinking a glass of water when I want to reach for a snack - I'm finding that I'm thirsty more than I'm hungry!!! Report
I have some green tea during the evening. Report
Hi Everyone
I find that drinking green tea helps me. I try to drink a cup of green tea before meals as it makes me feel full. Sometimes I'll drink a cup after meals as well. I had read you should drink 5 cups of green tea a day to reap the healthy benefits. Report
I love all the ideas that people come up with to help stay on track!!! I have found some that I use and some that I will try. My biggest problem is exercise. I have severe arthritis in my left knee and walking for any distance of extended periods or riding a bike and I pay for it dearly. Any ideas would be appreciated since my weight loss is nil without the movement. Any ideas? Report
Ran (only 3 minutes but it's a start!) for the first time this morning. My "small step" challenge to myself is to choose water over tea, soda or other beverages. It's cheaper (when eating out) and healthier! Report
I went from a run/walk to jogging the whole 2 miles yesterday. I was inspired because the weather was in the 50`s. I live in Michigan Report
i've always believed in starting things small and slow but in my sp journey, that attitude is making me lazy. i feel i can just get out of having to do things and its not good. reading about other sparkmembers successes is revitalizing. it helps to remember that i'm not alone and that really, little drops of water do make an ocean. Report
Inch by inch, anything's a cinch! My baby steps are working with a trainer at the gym 3X a week. The weight loss is slow, but I have doubled the amount of weight I can lift and the number of crunches I can do. It's so encouraging to see the accomplishments of others when they take the consistent small steps! Report
Lot's of small steps add up. 5 years ago 15 minutes on the treadmill was killer; now I'm training for my first half marathon.

Take those small steps; they lead to bigger things! Report
My small step today ended up being 2 miles. I did walk it slow, but it was better than not moving at all. What is better is I have been doing this walking for 3 weeks now , and it is becoming a habit. I actually look forward to it because it is looking like Spring now!! Report
well, a little while back i began using a smaller plate for my meals as well as trying to be consistent with weighing and measuring my food--liquids, snacks, etc. Report
today I started using small dishes ... bowls and even spoons ... food last longer and makes me eat slower with a smaller spoon .. lol

I enjoy reading postings that motivate me or keep me on track .. especially on a difficult day when i wnt to eat all the bad things ... Report
There were donuts in the staff break room at work, and I didn't eat them! I also had half of a 100 grand bar (only 95 calories, which isn't bad for candy) in my staff mailbox, but I ignored it after lunch and tamed my cravings with a piece of mint gum instead!! Report
I love reading these postings coz it helps me to know that there are other people out there with my same predicament. I live in Fiji where women are relatively told to eat more and when they do everyone says they're too fat.Trying to overcome this has not been easy. Spark people has really helped with all that...thanks Report
I did an EXTRA 10 minutes of Cardio today!!! Report
I just blogged about this on my sparkpage! This is one that I'm having a hard time with. I'm the type who wants to make 100 changes at once - and then I sit and wonder why I fail. The one thing I HAVE been able to keep focused on is my no soda rule. Today is Day 13! I know it is time to take another step, but I can't figure out which step to take - focus on water? exercise? planning ahead for weekday breakfasts and lunches? I'm hoping that continual use of this website and further reading of "The Spark" will help me stick with s-l-o-w progression and small changes. Thanks for a great post! Report
this time around (ah, yes, there have been many times around . . . lol) i am making small goals for myself and not overloading myself with new and different things. small changes are key and as they become part of your lifestyle they make the next change easier . . . good luck all!! Report
Instead of sitting in the aerobics room waiting for my class to start, I now jump on the treadmill and jog for as long as I have. Today I ran for 3/4 of a mile. Report
I started by taking short walks and not turning into the drive-thru at local fast food restaurants. It still amazes me how inportant walking daily has become to me and how I don't miss the Whopper at all. Report
I have to keep reminding myself of this! It is so easy to get overwhelmed at the process! Thank you for such a great reminder! Report
I am so with you. This line sang to me, "Slowly, deliberately, and respectfully." Amen to that! Report
Small changes have really been a big factor in changing habits. I can't run a marathon yet or really run far, but started just walking around the block and then adding on. Easting healthy started with consistently packing my breakfast and lunch. (I have medicine and time issues in the morning) Then, planning ahead to have healthy breakfast and lunch. Have just about knocked out going to the snack machine completely. Report
it is definitely all about the small changes. I started out just wanting to be healthier. I don't feel so much pressure doing that as to say I'm going to be on a "diet". And I know that if I keep with the good habits, it will make all the difference! Report
I have got to get my ass moving! Report
Even that I did work very long hours this passed weekend at work I STILL got a very good workout in this morning.
Got to improve me everyday! Report
This one is definitely a secret to success for me. When I first started with Spark, my goals were simply to log my food, drink 8 cups of water, and do 15 minutes of exercise 3 times a week. After a 3-year lapse and returning to Spark, I used those same 3 goals again to start over. When I found myself becoming too comfortable in my routine after a few months and like I was starting to lose control, I returned to the "mini-goals" to take control back. The goals this time were to ride my exercise bike for 15 minutes 3 times a week, do some dumbbell exercises 3 times a week, pack my lunches the night before a workday, and then I added doing the dishes nightly before bed. I'm in my 6th week of meeting these mini-goals, and the exercise ones have grown. I'm exercising daily for a minimum of 35 minutes now, and have even tried an exercise DVD in addition to the bike. Packing the lunches nightly helps me get to work on time the next morning, and I've even started prepping some of the breakfast stuff for the next day. Food prep (making 2-3 entrees plus hacking up/portioning the veggies) is done on the weekends so that I don't have to cook during the week, which gives me more time to exercise after work. My kitchen is staying clean so it's easier to cook healthy food. The small goals are taking on lives of their own, and I am the winner as I learn new, healthy lifestyle habits. Praise God for this wonderful program!!
snuck in 10 min of SP kickboxing this morning even though woke up later than i had wanted to - i will get my remaining 20 min of workout time in after work today - woohoo!!! Report
Thanks for the reminder of slow, slow, slow - and congratulations on the weight loss Report
this is what I have been doing Report
I found this very encouraging since I put in a "bad" week as far as calories consumed. I kept the food journal and exercised, so not all was lost, but I did gain...weight that is. Still I appreciate reading these sparks and knowing that I'm not alone. Thanks Gang! Pam Report
I too found that the small steps was the big difference this
Time around. It has taken me 4 months to lose about 20
Pounds but I am happy with that. I started with water, cut
Out the soda, focused on eating healthy, then excercise. I
Know that these changes are permanent and that I am healthier
Than I have ever been! Report
Once again, another secret of success that tells my story! I tried so many diets in the attempt to lose weight quickly, but it wasn't until I joined a gym and took a nutrition class that I discovered I needed to make lifestyle changes- small steps- day by day. I've lost 98 pounds and have maintained because my lifestyle is completely different! Never get discouraged...take it one day at a time. Today I start off my day with Kellog's Protein Plus, skim milk and a nectarine. I'm headed to the gym in an hour! Report
It starts out slowly, and then progresses. Report
This step has been one of the biggest reasons for my success this time around. Slow and steady really does win the race. Starting with small steps that focus on changing my behaviors from unhealthy ones to healthy ones has made all the difference. Report
In the picture at the top of this article, it is interesting to note that rolled oats-processed grains-were used.

Our views of what is truly whole foods is so distorted. Many view oatmeal as everything BUT real Irish Steel Cut Oats. Report
Julie May: I too work out 6 days a week, am on controlled (low) carb and low fat but seem to not be able to pull off the weight. I have had 3 heart surgeries in the last year, lost 25 lbs, and finally am able to turn my attention to fitness and health. I have 40 lbs. more to lose. Today I went for a hike with my husband, a little over an hour. Report