People often question me about the true effectiveness of small steps on health change.   “What difference does it make … really?” When you’re keen to improve your health NOW, I can understand how it may be hard to see how small daily improvements with exercise and nutrition could actually make a difference but they can!  Let me show you what I mean.

Below is a real-life, quantified  example of a-day-in-the-life-of-Michelle and the ‘In an Instant’ decisions I made to add on exercise and take off calories.   See if you can’t incorporate some of these ideas into your own daily plans.

The other day I wanted to skip walking the dog because I was short on time, but she needs a walk regardless of my hectic schedule so I decided to go for a half-hour quickie.  It was a gorgeous morning and made for a good start to my day, plus we kept a pretty steady pace so I broke a bit of a sweat and likely burned around 180 calories.  Mind and body nurtured!

For breakfast I had a cup of coffee with cream (for the record, I will never give up cream in my coffee) and opted for one egg on toast instead of two.  I skipped the butter on my toast as well and my 170 calories savings was bumped to 206.

When I was down town later that day I chose to take the stairs to the third floor office where my meeting was.  I managed a brief burn for my leg muscles and filed away another 30 calories I wouldn’t have burned if I had taken the elevator.

Since my car was in a great parking spot I chose to walk 6 blocks to my next errand 5 minutes there and back and I burned an additional 50 calories.

At lunch I found myself between a fast food burger outlet and a sandwich shop and I chose the latter because it had less temptation and healthier choices than the burger, fries and iced tea I was craving.  With that lunch I would have consumed a whopping 820 calories which is almost double what one of my meals should be.  Instead I opted for a chicken salad sandwich with extra tomatoes, a big bottle of water and a mandarin orange.  Not only did I save myself 445 calories I didn’t need but I felt pretty darn satisfied because it tasted good and I was proud for making a better decision.

I repeated that behavior later that day when I stopped for a caffeine hit.  Instead of the large mocha with whip that often taunts me I chose a small low fat latte.  Even with non-fat milk the mocha has 330 calories where as the latte has only 126. 204 calories in the savings vault!  Even if I had chosen the large I would still have saved over 160 calories.  YES!

At dinner that evening instead of having that second glass of wine I stopped at one.  ~Sigh. That was a hard one… but I saved another 150 calories and prevented a headache.

Every choice you make in a given day (in this case with food and activity) either gets added on or taken off.  Even the small choices.  By skipping opportunities to be active you miss out on calorie burning that can serve you in your overall caloric balance through the day.  By choosing less healthy food options or eating more than you need you add on extra calories that will either have to be burned later or will more likely be stored as body fat.  The chart below shows how these choices add up.

‘In an Instant’ CHOICE Calories burned/saved
Short and brisk dog walk 180
One egg on toast no butter 206
3 flights of stairs 30
Walk 6 blocks and back 50
Chicken salad lunch 445
Small nonfat latte 204
One glass of wine 150
TOTAL calories saved 1265

That day I saved 1265 calories through small choices to move more and eat differently.  It could have very easily gone the opposite way … where small poor choices add up to weight gain and energy loss.

MORE MATH: 1265 calories represents about 1/3 of a pound of fat that is either being added to your body or taken off based on your daily choices.  Imagine if you commit to small changes today like those mentioned above.  And what if you do the same tomorrow and the next day?  Even if you change nothing else, in those three days you will lose about one pound.  In a week you could realistically shed two.

That’s exciting because these results are possible without a full-blow diet (UG!) or lengthy workout sessions.  Small choices add up to great gains.

And did you know? There are a bunch of other brilliant bonuses that will come your way as a result of your ‘small steps makeover’.

1)  Additional exercise means better overall health.

2)  Healthy food will energize you in ways sugar and fat cannot.

3)  After activity your body burns calories at a higher rate for quite awhile so weight management will become easier.

4)  Healthy food is burned as fuel and nutrients where sugar and fat will most likely be stored as fat.

5)  Because of activity you get better muscle tone over time and those muscles increase your basic metabolism.

6)  You will experience feelings of well-being after exercise.

7)  You will feel proud of yourself for resisting food temptation.

8)  Your self-esteem will improve every day you do something good for yourself – even in small steps – because you’re finally taking care of you.


This small steps model works with anything you want to be spending time at.  don’t wait for more time and energy to ‘go big’.  Just get started with small daily efforts and build from there!


Small steps to ENERGY NOW. What are you waiting for?


Michelle Cederberg, CSP (Canada’s Newest Certified Speaking Professional) MKin, BA Psyc, CEP

Helping people with full schedules and a long list of responsibilities maximize their personal energy.


My GOT TO IT Accountability journal helps me plan and track small    daily self-care steps in my physical activity, healthy eating, even how much sleep and fun I have.

I take 2-3 minutes each morning to plan my day, and that way I remember to keep myself on my priority list.  Maybe it can help you?

To view sample pages click here

To order your copy today click here

Wondrous possibilities are steps away.