ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.



July 2015



Small Move, Big Change by Caroline Arnold

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Three Stars

Continuing down my path of attempting to be more successful in my goals, I found this mostly well-done book a couple of weeks ago. The premise is fairly simple: large, sweeping changes don’t stick. Saying “I’m going to lose 20 pounds this year” on January 1 doesn’t work because it’s a pretty giant goal and it doesn’t address what is involved in actually losing those 20 pounds. What Ms. Arnold suggests is that instead you make microresolutions throughout the year, turning things into habits and slowly shifting yourself closer to reaching your goals.

I’ve had some success with large, sweeping changes (see: “The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up”) and I’ve had some failures (see: “It Starts With Food”). But in general I think that what Ms. Arnold is proposing makes a whole lot of sense. I’ve done it a few times without really realizing it. For example, every night before bed I get out my workout clothes for the next day. Every night. So every morning I can easily shift into my workout gear without banging open drawers. Yes, probably once every three or four weeks the alarm goes off and I look at my running shoes, reset my alarm and go back to sleep, but the vast majority of the time, I go work out. It’s now a habit, and it feels weird to not do it.

The book is split into two parts: the rules of the microresolutions, and examples of microresolutions by common topic areas. Microresolutions need to be specific and easy. So a microresolution is not ‘eat healthier,’ because huh? What does that mean? Are you really going to change everything overnight? No. A better example would be ‘I will eat salad at lunch every work day.’ It doesn’t mean you’ll ONLY eat salad at lunch, and by limiting it to work days, you leave yourself some wiggle room for weekends or vacation, but it’s easy, you know what you’re doing, and it has a cue (lunch, work day). It’s kind of a cool idea, although it requires some patience, for sure.

The second half of the book I didn’t find to be AS useful, because a few of the areas aren’t really big problem ones for me. However, the first chapter of the second section, on sleep, resonated so much that I shifted one of my first two microresolutions to focus on increasing my sleep. I’ve also made a note in the to-do app I use to check in on my resolutions, and choose new ones.

One note that I would warn on – the section on losing weight is full of a lot of bull shit. The author reiterates a lot of ‘common sense’ ideas about why people gain and lose weight that aren’t actually supported by evidence, and in many cases are actively refuted by science. Like the idea that it’s ‘simple math’ as to why people gain weight (ignoring that two people can eat literally exactly the same food and still have vastly different weight gains or losses). So that definitely gave me pause, because what else in the book isn’t fact-based? But I’m willing to ignore that junk chapter in favor of the fact that the first half offers up what could be some useful advice.

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