Call Us
Back to Blog

The Incremental Path to Wellness: Small Steps, Big Changes

Jan 02, 2024


A blogpost by Samantha "Dr. Sam" Graber (


Who doesn’t like a dramatic transformation?

Not this gal. I love ‘em! 

We all know someone who has overhauled their lives in a big way in a seemingly short amount of time. It’s fantastic to witness, but not so realistic to expect. 

The journey to better health begins not with a giant leap, but with small, manageable steps. In a world where dramatic transformations are glorified, the true path to sustained wellness lies in the little changes we make each and every day. Read on to explore how you can enhance your health and well-being, one small step at a time.


The Power of Small Steps

When it comes to making lifestyle changes, small steps are more sustainable and less overwhelming than attempting a drastic overhaul. Opting for the ‘small steps’ approach aligns with the psychological concept of 'habit stacking', where you add new, small habits to your existing routine.

These incremental changes can lead to significant, long-lasting improvements in your health. Research in behavioral science suggests that when we experience success in small steps, it boosts our confidence and motivation, making it more likely that we'll stick with the changes long-term. PMID: 23211256


Nutrition – Simple Swaps and Incremental Additions

Nutrition is a cornerstone of good health, and small dietary adjustments can be incredibly effective.

  • Hydrate Fully: Start your day with a glass of water and keep a water bottle handy to stay hydrated. Aim for a daily intake of ½ ounce of water for every pound you weigh.  Add 10 ounces daily per week until you meet your goal. Gradually replace sugary drinks and excessive caffeine with water, herbal teas, or infused water.
  • Incorporate More Vegetables: Aim to fill half your plate with vegetables at each meal. This can be as simple as adding spinach to your morning omelet, or tossing extra roasted veggies into your pasta sauce. Opt for leafy greens and colorful veggies while passing on the starchy ones (I’m eye-ing you potatoes).
  • Mind Your Portions: Use smaller plates to naturally reduce portion sizes. Be mindful of serving sizes and listen to your body's hunger and fullness cues.
  • Reduce Added Sugars: Gradually cut back on sugar in your coffee or tea. Be aware of hidden sugars in processed foods by reading labels. If you're ready to kick the sugar habit and break free from sugar cravings, join our 7 Day No Sugar Challenge which runs all of January 2024. (Details here.)

  • Cook at Home More Often: Home-cooked meals typically have fewer added sugars and additives that are often not on the menu at even the swankiest of restaurants. Start with simple recipes and batch cook to save time during the week.
  • Eat Mindfully: Take time to savor your food without distractions like TV or smartphones. Eating slowly and mindfully can improve digestion and satisfaction with meals.
  • Plan Your Meals: Planning meals in advance can help you make healthier choices and avoid last-minute fast food. Start with planning just a few meals a week and gradually increase.
  • Optimize Your Plate: Aim for an optimized plate with a mix of adequate protein, carbohydrates that nourish (not just fill you up), along with ample healing fats. This type of eating strategy helps with satiety and ensures a range of nutrients in your diet. Satiety is that feeling of being fed just right.  Not too full and not hungry in the least.


Physical Activity – Integrating Movement into Daily Life

Physical activity doesn't have to mean hours at the gym. Integrating movement into your daily life can be just as beneficial.

  • Take the Stairs: Opt for the stairs instead of elevators or escalators whenever possible. This small change can increase your daily energy burn and strengthen your leg muscles.
  • Short Walks: Incorporate short, brisk walks into your day. A 10-15 minute walk during lunch breaks or after dinner can improve cardiovascular health and aid digestion.
  • Stand More: If you have a desk job, try standing for a few minutes every hour. Consider a standing desk or a high table to alternate between sitting and standing while working. At a minimum, stand up every hour for a quick stretch.
  • Stretch Regularly: Incorporate stretching into your daily routine. Morning stretches or stretching during breaks at work or when working on projects can improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension.

  • Active Commuting: If possible, bike or walk to work and when “running” errands. If you commute by public transportation, consider getting off a stop early and walking the rest of the way.
  • Park Further Away: When driving to work or shopping, park further from the entrance. This small change can significantly increase your daily steps.
  • Use a Fitness Tracker: A fitness tracker or a smartphone app can motivate you to move more by setting daily step goals and monitoring your progress.
  • Household Activities: Engage in more active household chores like gardening, vacuuming, or washing the car. These activities can be surprisingly good for upping your energy demand and staying active.
  • Social Activities: Make your social activities more active. Instead of coffee dates, suggest a walk in the park. Join a sports club or a group fitness class to combine socializing with exercise.


Mental Health – Daily Practices for Well-Being

Mental health is as important as physical health. These practices help in managing stress, improving focus, and fostering a positive mindset.

  • Practice Mindfulness: Dedicate a few minutes each day to mindfulness or meditation. This can help reduce stress, improve focus, and promote a sense of calm.
  • Gratitude Journaling: Start or end your day by writing down three things you are grateful for. This practice can shift your mindset to a more positive outlook and improve mental well-being.
  • Digital Detox: Allocate specific times in the day, such as during meals or before bed, to disconnect from digital devices. This can help reduce stress and improve sleep quality.
  • Regular Sleep Schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. A consistent sleep schedule can significantly improve your mood and energy levels, not to mention the quality of your sleep.
  • Deep Breathing Exercises: Practice deep breathing techniques when you feel anxious or stressed. This can help calm the mind and reduce anxiety levels.

  •  Connect with Others: Make an effort to connect with friends or family regularly, even if it's just a quick call or text. Social connections are vital for mental health.
  • Set Realistic Goals: Break down large tasks into small, achievable goals. This can help prevent feeling overwhelmed and increase a sense of accomplishment.
  • Time for Hobbies: Dedicate time each week to engage in activities or hobbies you enjoy. This can be a great way to relax and take a break from daily stressors.
  • Positive Affirmations: Start your day with positive affirmations for self-encouragement. This can help build self-esteem and combat negative thoughts.


Sleep – Small Steps for Better Sleep

Good sleep is essential for health, yet it's often overlooked. Small steps can greatly improve your sleep quality.

  • Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule: Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. Consistency reinforces your body's sleep-wake cycle.

  • Create a Bedtime Ritual: Develop a relaxing routine before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or practicing gentle yoga. This signals to your body that it's time to wind down.
  • Optimize Your Sleep Environment: Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep – it should be dark, quiet, and cool. Consider using blackout curtains, earplugs, or a white noise machine if necessary.
  • Limit Screen Time Before Bed: Turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with your ability to fall asleep.
  • Be Mindful of Eating and Drinking: Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol close to bedtime. These can disrupt sleep quality.
  • Get Comfortable: Invest in a comfortable mattress, pillows, and linens. The quality of your bedding can significantly impact your sleep.  If you’re prone to heating up at night, look to a cooler fabric for your sheets along with a couple blanket options to choose from during the night.  
  • Limit Naps: If you have trouble sleeping at night, try to limit daytime naps or keep them short – no more than 20 minutes.
  • Manage Stress: Try to resolve your worries or concerns before bedtime. Techniques such as journaling, meditation, or deep breathing can be helpful.  I like to do a “brain dump” like Mel Robbins recommends. In short, you take out a piece of paper and write down everything that’s bouncing around your mind. What’s got you worried?  What’s got you distracted?  Who is on your mind? Don’t go deep, just get the thought on paper.  You can look at the written page the next day and prioritize.  
  • Expose Yourself to Natural Light: Getting plenty of natural light during the day, especially first thing in the morning, will help regulate your sleep patterns. If you can't get outside, consider using a light therapy box.


Building and Maintaining Motivation

Maintaining motivation is crucial when implementing new health habits. Setting small, achievable goals can provide a sense of accomplishment.

Keep a journal to track your progress and celebrate your wins, no matter how small. If you encounter setbacks, treat them as learning opportunities (feedback) rather than failures. Think, “This is feedback not a failure.” Keep in mind that the  journey to better health is a marathon, not a sprint.

Improving your health doesn't need to be a heavy lift. It doesn’t require big, drastic changes either. It's the small, daily steps that lead to lasting, meaningful improvements in your well-being. Whether it's choosing a healthier snack, taking a brief walk, or simply getting an extra hour of sleep, these small changes can accumulate into significant health benefits over time. 

Start with one small change today, and build your way up to a healthier you.

For more health tips and guidance, sign up for my email updates or grab my Top 10 Tips for at

Receive Our Newsletter

Stay up-to-date with the latest from Dr. Treanor and the TC Team delivered to your inbox monthly. 

We won't share your information with anyone. Not only is that rude, its not our style. Please check your email to confirm your submission.