Some of you jazz fans out there probably know the Charleston-based quartet called “Gradual Lean.” If you don’t, you should. They’re the epitome of cool – with none other than Charlton Singleton (trumpet), Quentin Baxter (drums), Lee Barbour (guitar) and Kevin Hamilton (stand-up bass – check ‘em out). Besides their totally in-sync rhythms, we love the name, because gradual is often the trick to adopting healthier habits. More often than not, the path to becoming lean is less about taking healthier strides, but taking baby steps.
There are lots of reasons a gradual approach is often more effective than, say, waking up one day and declaring you’ll never eat sugar again. Gradual is doable. Unintimidating. If your approach is all or nothing, failure is really easy (almost guaranteed), then you’re off the bandwagon and back to old habits.
Instead, focus on sweating the small stuff – choosing one small change to fit into your lifestyle each week. Give it a try, and don’t get discouraged if you slip up, ‘cause, hey, we’re all human and it was just a little step. Nothing major. But after you take lots of little steps, that gradual motion turns into momentum, and before you know it, you’re on your way to lean!
Here are some small changes to think about making. Commit to just one, or maybe two, a week – that’s all. Then next week, maybe add on another. As Mother Teresa said, “We can do no great things, just small things with great love.” How ‘bout that for a “keeper” Heart Month quote?
Some gradual, small changes you might choose:
- Eat a vegetable at lunch every day
- Opt for fruit for an afternoon snack
- Enjoy fruit with breakfast
- Cut back one alcoholic drink at night
- Don’t eat after 8 p.m.
- Limit the sugar you add to your coffee (or sweet tea!) to a minimal amount
- Choose a whole grain (quinoa, brown rice, etc.) with dinner instead of a white starch
- Try one new recipe this week (cook one night, then eat the leftovers the next)
- Eat at home most nights this week