Set a SMALL goal

Set yourself up for success by setting SMALL goals.

Give yourself permission to try the goal out. Make it short term. That’s the S in SMALL — short term. If your goal is to dance to one song a day, set your intention to dance each day for the next week, or the next month. At the end of that time, you can then decide if you will continue, figure out what to tweak if you need to, or try something different if you want. You get to evaluate if it works for you and if you want to carry on.

If your goal is to meditate, you could set your time frame for the next 5 days or the next 5 weeks. Your walking goal could be just for this week. Focusing your efforts over a shorter time period can help you stay on goal. Make your goal SHORT TERM.

The next requirement is to make your goal manageable on the busiest of days. The M in SMALL is — manageable. If your goal is manageable on the busiest of days, you can smile when life happens and say “I did it anyway.” Maybe you decided you wanted to walk. Instead of saying you’ll walk for an hour, set your goal at 10 minutes or more. This way if you’re rushing from one appointment to another, you can fit a 10 minute walk in and celebrate. Or your goal could be just wearing the pedometer every day. Habitually wearing your pedometer is manageable and may even motivate you to park further away or take the stairs see the steps add up. Dancing to one song a day is almost always manageable even if you’re stuck in a chair — wave your arms to the beat. Make your goal MANAGEABLE.

The A in SMALL is — Active. The goal itself is taking the action. Losing 50 pounds is not an active goal as you can’t just walk down the street dropping pounds left and right. It takes many actions and choices to lose the weight. Focus on what actions and activities you want to take to support a healthier weight. A goal of dancing to one song a day is active. A goal of measuring or weighing your food is active. A goal of wearing your pedometer or getting at least 10 minutes of walking in every day is active. What action can you take? Will you? Make your goal ACTIVE.

The first L in SMALL is — lifestyle fit. Make your goal something you might do for a lifetime. Running a marathon might be a lifestyle fit but walking is more likely to be an everyday activity you can do for the rest of your life. Instead of banning all desserts, consider setting your goal at measuring your ice cream, or always splitting a dessert at a restaurant. The goal of weight loss is not to lose pounds but to gain a healthier lifestyle so you can enjoy each day. Make your goal a LIFESTYLE FIT.

The last L in SMALL is — leveraged. It may be hard to change habits so if you can leverage your small goal by building it on or around an existing habit or behavior you’ll be ahead of the game. Remembering to dance to one song in the middle of the day may be hit or miss but turning on the music while you’re waiting for the coffee to brew in the morning could be an easy fit. Using measuring spoons and ladles to serve your starches will give you an idea of portion size without trying; after all you have to scoop them anyway, so why not use a tool that measures portions. Placing your pedometer near your watch, keys, or phone can make it that much easier to remember to put it on. Set your goal so it’s LEVERAGED by actions you’re taking already.

Stop setting yourself up for failure. Instead of setting goals that may not work, set SMALL goals.

You could consider making your SMALL goals into habits you want to build or change. A note about habits – it does NOT take 21 days to build a habit. I’m not speaking from personal experience, there is research* that shows, on average, a habit takes 66 days to build. The actual number of days needed to build a specific habit will depend on you and the behavior.

The research found a range of 18 to 254 days (yes! yes! I so agree). Some participants were unable to build a habit as the research ended before the habit was formed (in other words, it can take a really long time). In general, healthy drinking habits (such as drinking water) were easier to build than exercising (running for 15 minutes or doing 50 sit-ups). What I found most interesting was that the eating habits were harder to create then both drinking and exercise. Hmmm, that might explain a few things.

Set SMALL goals:

Short term, for the next week or the next 30 days
Manageable on the busiest of days
Active, the goal itself is taking the action
Lifestyle fit, something you might do for a lifetime
Leveraged, built on, around, or in addition to an existing habit


How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science) Huffington Post

Busting the 21 days habit formation myth ‘Health Chatter’: The Health Behaviour Research Centre Blog

*How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world by Lally, van Jaarsveld, Potts, & Wardle, 2010

the WHAT of tracking

You want to track. You intend to track. But, what do you track?

Don’t say everything. Unless you’re already tracking close to everything, everything might be too much.  Since tracking helps you focus your attention and energy on changing behavior and habits, consider what you want to change.  Then track that.

You could track…

individuals walking shoes

Your steps: If your goal is to get more steps, then tracking the number of steps you get each day is important.  If you don’t know how many you did yesterday, then how will you know you got more steps in today unless you track it. Check out how 100 more steps add up.

Cute parson russell terrier dog on lead on walk with his owner10 minutes of activity: If your goal is to move more, you could track your time in 10 minutes blocks of physical activity.  A walk around the block for your morning break could be one check-mark. Vacuuming the house could be another couple of marks. Walking the dog, yet another.  Soon you’ll want to mark off one more block then you did yesterday, or you’ll make the effort to get at least one in today. Change it up.


green and red healthy foodYour servings of fruits & veggies: If your goal is to eat 5 or more servings of fruits & vegetables each day, then give yourself a gold star for every serving.  Soon you might be planning your weekly menu around your veggies to ensure you get your gold stars. Increase your plant slant.


water with mint, cucumber, and limeYour water: If you’re trying to make water your go-to beverage choice, tracking the number of glasses or ounces you grab each day can help.  Celebrate and mark each time you choose water over soda.  Drink up.


use the remote control to change channels on TelevisionYour TV time:  Your tracking goal doesn’t just have to be about increasing the better choices. Sometimes tracking can help you decrease behaviors that you want to change.  With a goal of no more than two hours of recreational screen time each day, you could track your TV time to identify your baseline watching and then make changes from there.  Remember, I may have written TV, but this could include your computer, smartphone, and tablets too.  What’s in your day that shouldn’t be?


bigstock woman decision donut fruitYour emotions, feelings, level of satisfaction, or stress:  Tracking creates awareness about choices, situations, and behaviors.  If you track your emotions or stress level before you eat, you could identify a trend that when you feel bored, you reach for crunchy snacks.  After certain situations, you note that you’re feeling extremely stressed, and you go for chocolate.  If you track your satisfaction level during meals, you may find that you stop eating when you feel comfortable and not waiting until you feel full. Make each day delicious.

WHAT will you track this week?

motto, theme, or microresolution

Happy New Year 2015 colorful triangles

Many people have given up on New Year’s resolutions because they never seem to last past January.  But you don’t have to give up on the idea of making a change in 2015.  You could:

Decide on a theme for 2015.  A friend of mine would always come up with a theme for the year.  One year it was ‘Wonder Woman’ and the next year included more peace and calm along with the strength.

Choose a motto for 2015.  Last year my motto was — will this help me?.  This year I’m going with —  courage to create.

Achieve a microresolution in 2015. Instead of resolving to exercise more, consider creating a microresolution.  You might focus on parking in the last stall or walking the perimeter of the store before you start shopping.  Instead of promising to eat healthier, consider building the habit of putting your vegetables on first or ordering soup (clear not creamy) as an appetizer when eating out.

For more ideas on making small moves and setting microresolutions, check out the book by Caroline Arnold,
Small Move, Big Change: Using Microresolutions to Transform Your Life Permanently




What change do you want to see?

Check It Out

reduce * simplify * experience * live!

keep * let go * begin

review & reconsider

I’m taking a short break from the Blue Zone’s Power 9® and recommending that you spend some time reviewing and reconsidering this past year before you focus on making goals or dreams for the next year.

We often spend so much time reminding ourselves of what we haven’t achieved or planning new goals to strive towards, we fail to look back and see just how far we’ve come.  Reviewing the year allows us to reconsider why things worked, what tripped us up, what challenges we overcame, and how we might make it work next time.

I could stand at the end of 2014 and say I failed to keep the weight off.  I failed to lose the weight.  I failed to make the better choices.  [None of this is really helpful]Juggling your responsibilities can be overwhelming

However, if I reconsider the year, I can see that there was a lot going on that affected my ability to make choices. There was: helping a family member through a health crisis; my husband getting a great job in Pennsylvania and moving there in February; preparing for my CPO-CD® certification peer review; preparing the Hilo house to sell; juggling all the things I had said ‘yes’ to in 2014; building my business; moving two dogs and 2 cats; leaving friends and family behind; and waiting to be a family again with my husband.

Ooooohhhh.  That explains the struggle.  Once I reviewed and reconsidered, I stopped judging and then focused on what would support my health & happiness.  I identified that I need the weekly structure of a Weight Watchers (WW) meeting.  I also want to get more activity (beyond walking the dogs).  So, I rejoined WW last week (!!) and I’m asking Santa for a 3 month gym membership.

road sign directing you to a new life or remaining in the old lifeWhether your 2014 challenges are ending or if they will be continuing into 2015, take the time to review your year as a whole, reconsider your failures & successes, and identify what resources you need & what actions you’ll take.


What were your challenges & wins?

Check It Out

A tasty selection of 2014 Small Steps:

  • play more – Play more.  Laugh more.  Think fun!



First I suggested some places to start reducing, then I mentioned how to simplify, last week I asked what could you experience now (don’t wait for someday).

This week it’s about living life.

That’s why this is the end of the blog.  Close your browser or put your computer to sleep and go live.  Go laugh with a friend.  Go look at the sky.  Go embrace your day.

How will you live your day?

Live your life to the fullest potential and fight for your dreams ~ Ashley Smith


Leave a comment and share how you are living your day. 

If you found this post useful, supportive, interesting or fun, please share it with a friend.

make your health a habit

I heard  a great quote on The Biggest Loser years ago, “willpower is overrated”.  This was a freeing concept for me, because it meant that better choices were easier to make if I didn’t actually have to be aware of making the choice — if the environment was clear of temptations or if the better choice was a habit.

Have you tried to build a habit lately?  Did you go in with the expectation of it taking 21 days to build?  Were you successful or disappointed?

Let me tell you — it does NOT take 21 days to build a habit. It takes more than 21 days to build a habit I’m not just speaking from personal experience, there is research* that shows, on average, a habit takes 66 days to build.  The actual number of days needed to build a specific habit will depend on you and the behavior.

The research found a range of 18 to 254 days (yes! yes! I so agree).  Some participants were unable to build a habit as the research ended before the habit was formed (in other words, it can take a really long time).  In general, healthy drinking habits (such as drinking water) were easier to build than exercising (running for 15 minutes or doing 50 sit-ups).  What I found most interesting was that the eating habits were harder to create then both drinking and exercise.  Hmmm, that might explain a few things.

Next time you decide to build a habit or make a change, give yourself more than 21 days. Make as long as it takes your mantra.  I feel that some new habits will take as long to make as you lived the old behaviors.

Keep building new and healthier habits.

* How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world (Lally, van Jaarsveld, Potts, & Wardle, 2010)

What healthy choice will you build into a habit this week,and for ‘as long as it takes’?


how I can help with Lifestyle Coaching

Ever wonder where the ’21 days to build a habit’ came from?  It has to do with plastic surgery and self-image.  HUH???
Check It Out

Busting the 21 days habit formation myth
‘Health Chatter’: The Health Behaviour Research Centre Blog

How Long Does It Actually Take to Form a New Habit? (Backed by Science) Huffington Post

These are the three most powerful books I’ve read on change and creating habits.

Share your journey.  How long did it take you to build your last habit? – leave a comment.


organize for weight loss

This week I’m sharing the recording and handout from the Organize for Weight Loss teleclass I gave on Thursday.  Some of the strategies may be familiar to you as I’ve written about them here in Small Steps.  Other ideas may be good reminders and still others may suggest whole new options for you.  Enjoy the teleclass, it’s about 50 minutes.  The handout has even more ideas and strategies, so make sure to download it.


Download the Organize for Weight Loss HANDOUTS  – please provide your name and email below to get the link. [email-download download_id=”1506″ contact_form_id=”1766″]

Additional resources and program offers:

My Kindle books are only $0.99 to download from Amazon:

 31 Small Steps to Organize for Weight Loss

31 Small Steps to Organize Your Life

Also available in paperback for $4.99 from Amazon:

31 Small Steps to Organize for Weight Loss

31 Small Steps to Organize Your Life

Interested in support and focus?  Try my Stop Dieting and Start Organizing: 6 Weeks to Organize for Weight Loss (and Health).  Click Here for more details.

What organizing idea will you use to help your weight loss this week?

Check It Out

My partner on the calls this month was Amy Tokos of Freshly Organized.  She presented organizing strategies for the family.  If you would like to listen to her teleclass or take a look at her handouts, go to


If you found this post useful, supportive, interesting or fun, please share it with a friend.

less than perfect progress is still progress

Last week I suggested that you walk 100 more steps than you did the day before, and I shared what those steps could add up to over 6 weeks. Almost as soon as I sent it, I realized what could happen if I had an unusually high step count one day.  How would I keep my commitment to take 100 more steps than the day before?  Or what to do if the day doesn’t go according to plan and I get a lower step count than usual. Since the intention behind this commitment was to encourage me (and you) to take more steps and was not an all-or-nothing goal, I chose to set up two Plan Bs.

  • If I have a higher than normal step day then my goal the next day is to continue on from the previous normal step count and add 100.
  • If I have a lower than normal step day, then my goal is to get 100 more steps before I go to bed; the following day continue on with the normal progression of adding 100.

These Plan Bs allow me to keep going even if I’m not meeting my goal perfectly.  This allows me to succeed with the intention of the 100 more steps goal and not just toss my ongoing efforts aside.

Bottom line:

do 100 more than yesterday,

do 100 more than you think you can, or

do 100 more than you have now.

Repeat tomorrow.

I resolve never to quit, never to give up.

keep, let go, begin in 2014

Teleclass January 2014 pic


Organizing Your Health, Your Family, and You

January 16 & January 23

Simplify your life in 2014 with tools & strategies for organizing your family and your weight loss.

For more information and to register…


As I mentioned last week, I don’t do resolutions.  I do New Year’s mottoes and this year my motto is will this help me? 

The next step in my New Year’s re-focusing is to identify what I want to Keep, what I want to Let Go of and what I want to Begin.

KEEP:  I know I’m doing some things in support of my weight and health that are working.  So what will I continue to do in 2014?  What will I keep?

I will continue to stay sweets-free. I am not suggesting this for everyone, but sugar is something I’ve struggled with my whole life.  I’ve spent years trying to control my consumption of sweets, chocolates, desserts, etc.  I was able to limit it while losing weight, but during maintenance, I’d start adding it back in.  Then more and even more.  I’ve gone sweets-free several times and only in this last year have I been able to make it a natural part of my lifestyle. And though I have fallen off the wagon (the pecan pie for Thanksgiving), I’m now back to what helps me feel better –no sweets!

BEGIN:  I knew my begin would have something to do with exercise this year because I’m ready to take it to the next level.

I’ve got the basic 30+ minutes of walking in for general health and now I’m looking at what’s next.  Yes, I definitely should increase my aerobic exercise but, besides not being big on shoulds, I believe yoga would be more beneficial for me.  It would give me flexibility, strength, and help me quiet my mind and reconnect me to my body.  So yoga it is.

LET GO:  Normally I look at what to let go of before I decide what I’ll begin, but sometimes in order to bring more into your life you need to open up the space, the time and the energy by letting go of something else.  If I want to begin yoga, what will I let go of in order to fit it in my life?

I will let go of my expectations that in order to start yoga today I have to make time to go to a 75-minute class across town.  Instead I’m going to try out some 20-minute yoga videos on YouTube in the morning, when I get home or before I got to bed.

I will let go of my belief that I have to go to a class.  I get bored and usually turn off the yoga CDs, so a class is usually the only way to keep me going.  But a 20-minute video should be short enough to keep my attention.

I will let go of my all-or-nothing thinking.  Since I don’t have the time to fit in a 75-minute class right now, I’ve been putting off getting back into yoga at all.  But by taking small steps like a 20-minute yoga video now, it will allow me to start.  Then as my schedule opens up I can add a class here and there.

 What will you Keep, Let Go, and Begin this week?

Check It Out 

Here’s my YouTube playlist of yoga videos I’ll be trying out.  I’ll delete the ones I don’t like and keep adding and trying more.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

31 Small Steps to Organize for Weight Loss by Shawndra Holmberg

31 Small Steps to Organize for Weight Loss

by Shawndra Holmberg

Giveaway ends January 03, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win



If you found this post useful, supportive, interesting or fun, please share it with a friend.

a motto instead of a resolution

I don’t do resolutions. Instead, I establish a motto for the new year. Previous mottoes include: balance; acceptance; choose with no regrets; and it’s all good. I’ve also asked and I’ve been kinder to myself.

Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive directions, these can be changed as your priorities change, new ones added, and others dropped.  unknownI’ve spent some time thinking of where and how I want to be this time next year. I’ve thought about what motto could embrace my health goals as well as my career goals. What words would encourage me to shape my finances and build my relationships.

My 2014 motto is…

Will this help me (or us)?

I can use this motto when I’m tired and stressed and want to eat that bag of chips. Will it help me feel better? After all, that is my intention when I’m stress eating – to feel better. But there are more effective ways. I could go for a walk, take a break and sit in my garden, or maybe, I could eat. I could eat something nutritious and filling, not loaded with sugar and grease which will just make me feel worse in 15 minutes.

I can use this motto when I have a task or project to do and I’m considering skipping my walk in order to finish it. Will it help me be more productive? Will that 15 minutes make a difference to the project or would a 15 minute walk help me feel energized and focused?

Instead of a New Year’s resolution would a motto for 2014 be more encouraging of your goals?

Next week I’ll share the other half of my non-resolution New Year focus — Keep, Let Go, Begin.

What’s your motto for 2014?
or just this week?

Check It Out 

Thanks Jeanne for these great links from The Seattle Times

Make your holiday bites count with mindful eating

How to get through the holidays without weight gain

If you found this post useful, supportive, interesting or fun, please share it with a friend.