Wanna change? Start small and doable. (#2thingschallenge)

start small - like really small

I remember when I first felt a glimmer of hope that I might actually be able to lose the weight I’d gained over the course of several stressful years. I found a website for a personal trainer, and the people in the “before pics” looked a lot like me. But what was even more encouraging was their “after pics.” They looked leaner, healthier, happier — but not like they were spending two hours a day working out. Maybe this is possible, I thought. And I actually cried from relief. I hadn’t realized just how hopeless I felt until a little ray of hope shone into my gloomy heart.

I’ve found that’s a pretty common feeling. I recently asked on Facebook how people feel when they think about starting a new diet. Here are some of the responses:

“I cringe, and say, ‘Whatever. Gonna fail anyway. Why try?'”

“I love the idea of a fresh start, but I haven’t been very successful in keeping that going. So my emotions are all over the place — hopeful, doubtful, scared to fail.”

“What’s the point? I never stick to anything. I don’t have enough willpower.”

“I always fail at these things. I can’t change long term.”

“Failure and depression.”

“I’ve done this so many times – why try again?”

“Willpower and self-discipline — I have zilch!

But I’d like you to consider something: maybe it’s not a matter of willpower. Maybe the problem wasn’t with you, but with the diet, or approach, or rules. Maybe it’s a matter of finding the thing that works for you.

Sweating it out for hours every day or pounding the pavement for miles a day would not have worked for me. But when I found a smaller more doable way, things began to change. I felt encouragement from small victories, and then gained momentum over time as small successes encouraged me to work toward other goals.

So if you’ve tried big, sweeping changes and found them overwhelming, or if you’ve tried a system with strict rules where one single misstep is seen as a complete failure, you might find the 2 Things Challenge refreshing. And doable. And hope-giving.

The 2 Things Challenge

Here’s what it is:

  • Change two things for 20 days. That’s all!
  • One of the things will be about what you eat, and the other will be about why you eat. (I wrote recently about why you need to change both if you want weight loss to be permanent. If you missed that post, read it here.)
  • You choose the things! You’re not living by someone else’s rules. Choose what’s most important, or easiest, or makes you feel the most positive about tackling.

The point isn’t to lose x pounds in 20 days. The point is to start somewhere, focus on what you can do, enjoy a small victory, and see where you want to go from there.

Want to join? Here’s what you do:

  • Choose your two things. (There’s a list of ideas below.)
  • Declare publicly that you’re doing this. The accountability helps you follow through, and you might inspire a friend to join you — which will help boost your success! You can just post a comment wherever you hang out online, or grab one of the images from this post and share on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Include the hashtag #2thingschallenge, so we can find each other. 🙂
  • Write it on your calendar. Studies show that this one simple act doubles your chances of success! Write the start date, and notes on the following 20 days. For example…
    • Packing your lunch three days a week? Write “pack lunches” on Sunday night, or every night before you plan to take lunch.
    • Trying some new recipes? Day 1 – pick a website to follow; Day 2 – choose three new recipes to try; Day 3 – get the groceries; Day 4 – cook one new thing.
    • Planning a walking date with a friend? Write those days down.
    • Seeking pro help? Write “ask three friends about their coaches,” then write “contact potential coaches” on a later day.
  • Get regular encouragement. Optional but recommended — follow me on Instagram or Facebook. I’ll be posting encouraging comments and easy food ideas in both places during the official days of this round.

This round starts on Jan. 2 and goes to Jan. 22, 2018. Of course, you can start anytime you like. Start early, jump in late: nobody’s taking names or rapping knuckles! And give yourself grace. On this challenge, one slip-up is not busting you back down to the bottom of the chutes and ladders.

Any day is a good day to try again.

Important to know:

You’re aiming for things that are within your control.

You know the problem with a weight loss goal? You can work towards it, but you can’t really control whether you hit it or not. Especially under a certain deadline. But if you make a habit or an action your goal — and if it’s something realistic — then you have a much better chance of success. You might not make it perfectly, but you will do it better than you did last month, and that totally counts as progress!

Describe your goals in habits, not pounds.

Need some ideas?

Suggested items for your “2 things”:

Thing 1: What you eat (Remember: just choose one)

  • Switch from pop to soda water (cold turkey, or taper off — you choose).
  • Switch from sugar to stevia  (cold turkey, or taper off — you choose).
  • Quit anything made with flour, and/or gluten.
  • Eat protein with your breakfast.
  • If you’re a big salad eater, switch to homemade salad dressing (search this site; you’ll find lots of easy, yummy options).
  • Cut carbs in half.
  • Replace cereal or granola with a whole food alternative.
  • Replace fast food with homemade, or revise your order. Skip the bun, skip the breading. Make sure you have protein, veggies, and if possible, a healthy fat.
  • Replace three meals out a week with three homemade meals.
  • Give up that one thing you know causes you problems.

Find more options and details in my e-book, Small Steps to Big Change. Free when you sign up for my email list.

ebook; small steps to big change

Thing 2: Why you eat

  • For emotional eating: Privately journal about what you’re feeling before and while you eat. If you hate writing, try recording voice or video. But keep it private. You don’t need the noise of the internet here. The goal here is not to shame yourself about what or why you’re eating. It’s to help you connect the two and learn from it — whether that causes any immediate changes or not. (If you don’t think you can do this without shaming yourself, kindly choose a different thing. Like the next one…)
  • Stuck in a cycle of beating yourself up: Work on giving yourself grace. Try to notice when you’re having a self-critical rant in your head, then stop the tape, and speak to yourself the way you would to your best friend. Rename”failures” as “lessons learned.” Replace “I’ll never change” with “I’m learning to change; it may take a while, and that’s okay.”
  • For stress management: Eliminate or pause what you can. Delegate or postpone some duties, maybe. Meeting friends for pizza a problem? Ask them to meet at a different place, or plan a walking date. Good friends want to help. If your friends don’t, maybe you need to beg off for a few weeks, saying you’re really busy this month. (You are: busy working on a healthier you.)
  • To cheer you up: find alternatives – funny movies, time with friends, play with a dog.
  • Boredom or loneliness: Seek challenge and/or community — call or text a friend to take a walk together, take a free adult class, host a weekly game night with family or friends.
  • Physical fatigue: Take steps to improve your sleep.
  • Wanting something sweet after a meal. Brush your teeth or chew gum.
  • Weary heart or soul: Work on finding a daily soul care practice that helps you, such as prayer, meditation, writing in a gratitude journal, or ten minutes of uplifting music and intentional rest.
  • Know you have depression or anxiety? Take steps to seek professional help.
  • Not sure what’s going on under the surface? Try “morning pages.” Google it, or see the book The Writing Diet for more info.

Need more ideas? Check out the Why we eat section of this blog.

That’s it! Got questions? Comment below or message me through the contact page.

I hope you’ll join me. I think you’ll find yourself in friendly company. 🙂

If you decide to join:

Follow me on social media for frequent tips and encouragement.

Follow me on Instagram: @jana.realfood

Find me on Facebook: ohthatstasty


Share so your friends can join you!

Images for social media –

For Instagram:

I'm changing 2 things for 20 days

For Facebook:

join the #2thingschallenge

join the #2thingschallenge



Image by Ilya Yakover on Unsplash.


If you’re new to ohthatstasty.com, you might like to know a little bit about what I consider healthy eating. Learn more here:

About me and my approach

Your four hungers (and why you shouldn’t feel guilty for every craving)

My 5-star formula for healthy eating


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  1. I’m in! Looking forward to this challenge! I am going to drink water -64 ounces-each day. And I am going to journal my reasons for eating. I’m so ready to beat this emotional eating cycle!

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