Motivation & Small Steps: The Precision Nutrition Method

I’ve been particularly discouraged with the fitness world lately, not the least of which myself personally, including the blog.  I’ve written a lot of posts, with a lot of effective information.  Anyone looking to get in shape could implement the information in no more than 2 of my posts and probably achieve 150% of their goals.  The problem is, most of my readers aren’t implementing anything.  You read (or skim), maybe you click the like button, but you don’t put it to use.  This is the way the fitness world works.  There’s a ton of information production and consumption but not a lot of application.  As a result, there are not a lot of results.

Yes, it’s discouraging.

Before I go on, I should acknowledge that this isn’t all consumers of fitness info.  Obviously some of us are putting it to use.  Many thanks to those of my readers who make a point of letting me know that they’re making use of the info.

That said, I’ve recently been very interested in the science of motivation, particularly as it applies to nutrition and fitness.  Coincidentally, Precision Nutrition just produced a set of videos about motivation and compliance, which I enjoyed greatly and recommend to anyone.  Though they are geared towards fitness professionals, the methods are applicable by anyone.

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

The main point I took out of the series that’s immediately applicable is that small habit changes, implemented one at a time, are most successful.  People don’t get in shape when they try to change their whole lifestyle at one time; success comes when they change slowly, over time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are healthy lifestyles.

What Precision Nutrition does, over the course of their 6 month coaching program, is implement one small new habit every two weeks.  That’s it.  No huge workout plans and detailed diets on day one.  Just one new habit every two weeks, building on each other, for 6 months.  Compliance numbers are staggering compared to traditional coaching.

For example, the first few habits they implement are these:

  • Weeks 1 & 2 – Take fish oil and multivitamin every day (one gram of fish oil for every percentage point of your body fat – yes, it’s quite a bit)
  • Weeks 3 & 4 – Slow down your eating (take 20 minutes to eat every meal)
  • Weeks 5 & 6 – Stop eating at 80% full
  • Weeks 7 & 8 – Eat 5 servings of vegetables per day (size of a fist)
  • Weeks 9 & 10 – Eat lean protein with every meal

Think about that for a minute.  It looks maddeningly simple.  You’re thinking, I could do that, no problem.  Yeah, that’s the point.  If you took 10 weeks to implement those habits one at a time and kept them up the rest of your life, you’d get way closer to your goals than you are now and way closer than you’d get with a traditional “change everything” diet program.

Honestly, how often have you tried to start a nutrition program/diet outright and failed?  How many times have you dropped that New Year’s resolution after 2 weeks?

So here’s the challenge – start with step one this week and spend two weeks on it.  After you conquer that, bring on step 2 on day 15.

If you want to try this method, leave a comment below.  I (and I bet the readers too) would love to hear how it goes.

I honestly believe that this method is the future of the fitness industry.

Small habits, implemented one at a time, build a healthy lifestyle.


PS – more info on the Precision Nutrition Lean Eating Coaching Program here.  Incredibly highly recommended.

PPS – Here’s the full list of the first 16 habits:

Precision Nutrition Habits