How small substitutions lead to big changes

In keeping with my theme of REALIZING THE POWER OF ONE, I’m all about balance in life! … Especially if it means less to stress about and expectations being lowered just a smidge. I know a lot of us talk about having a “Weight Loss Experience” but I truly believe that experience never actually stops. Since we have to maintain what we’ve learned over the course of our journey, it’s important to keep little notes in the back of your head of how you made positive progress so we don’t lose focus!


One of the biggest ways I’ve focused on making healthier decisions in my life and diet, was to make SUBSTITUTIONS. When you TAKE OUT items from your life, you can seem to be left with a void that causes stress instead of happy vibes. Negativity can also be a cause for relapse of sorts back to bad habits – especially eating habits.


* Many of these substitutions aren’t ideal, per say, when you’ve been on the journey for a longer period of time – but we all have to start somewhere right?


Here are some substitutions I started with when I first began my journey … many that I still keep in mind to this day – Small Substitutions Lead to BIG Changes!


1) Water instead of Soda and Juice – juices and sodas are a huge source of ’empty’ calories that can take up our ‘meal allowance’ for the day. After you’ve mastered that, switch to water only with green tea 2.2L or more a day.


2) Trade a sweet treat like pastries for fruits, then trade those fruits for vegetables.


3) Brown rice versus White Rice, Sweet Potato versus White Potatoes, and Whole Wheat versus White bread. Gradually bread came out of my diet all together, but little by little taste buds change and adjust. The value of Brown rice, Sweet potatoes, and whole wheat are that they are all lower GI foods than their bleached or starchier counterparts – but that’s another post 😉


4) Coconut Water instead of Gatorade or Powerade for post-workout electrolytes and replenishment.




5) Greek Yogurt instead of sugary yogurts – even those with added sugars in them are better than those that have added sugar and barely any fruit. Plain Greek Yogurt also makes a great substitution for Sour Cream.


6) Romaine lettuce or baby greens instead of Iceberg Lettuce. The Greener the vegetable, the more nutritional value it brings. Then, kale greens or swiss chard instead of lettuce (go greener!)


7) White meat chicken instead of dark meat as well as chicken or turkey burgers instead of hamburger. Lean buffalo or bison is also a good substitute for fattier blends of ground beef.


8) Frozen yogurt instead of Ice cream, just saying. Sorbets as also a better option than Ice Cream.


Other daily habits that can me adjusted:


1)  Food Prep time instead of watching 30-60 minutes of TV. Eventually, you can master the skill of doing them simultaneously.




2) Taking the Stairs instead of the Elevator – why not get in some calorie burn?


3) Taking a 30 minute walk during a lunch break rather than going to grab a bite of fast food.


4) Core work and pushups or other excesses during commercial breaks – we don’t need to watch those anyways right?


5) Intervals while on cardio equipment instead of steady-state exercise – increase your caloric burn and maximize your time!



 What other substitutions do you want to focus on?

What others do you feel have benefited your fit life?

HI! I'M KAT - I am a pug-mom, wife, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, & Fitness Coach focusing on living the fit life while tackling work, coaching others - doing it all! My blog is to hold me accountable for all the goals I plan on accomplishing and also a way for me to try to inspire others through my own experiences - if I can do it ANYONE can! Fitness is a huge part of my life as well as travel and seeing all that life has to be lived! PAY IT FORWARD!

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  • Reply
    September 24, 2014, 8:23 am

    you know I believe in this.
    live this.
    CARLA recently posted…The lies we tell ourselves: part one.My Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:38 pm

      Baby baby steps for sure!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014, 8:40 am

    Yes to all of this! I made most of these subs a long time ago, the rest I was already doing (hate soda, yuck!) but they are all super simple and make living a healthy life that much easier!
    Annmarie recently posted…Seriously Amazing Apera Bags: Performance Duffel ReviewMy Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:39 pm

      It’s ok long as we start when we can!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014, 8:50 am

    Great post! It’s those small substitutions, and not even all at once, that over time make such a difference. I love that I started interval training. It’s my favorite way to workout and most effective. 🙂 I also love trading dark leafy greens for my buns when I eat burgers, wraps, etc.
    Rosi recently posted…Stop and Taste the RainbowMy Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:39 pm

      Thanks girlie! for sure I love intervals

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014, 9:08 am

    Small steps definitely help lead to BIG changes. We recently switched to brown rice, and are making more sweet potatoes than ever before. I’m questioning why I waited so long to make the changes, but now is better than never!
    Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…Current CountdownsMy Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:39 pm

      It takes getting used to but it’s worth it!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014, 9:14 am

    Love this post Kat!!! Those small substitutions really add up!
    Mindy @ Road Runner Girl recently posted…10K Training Run PR!My Profile

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014, 10:08 am

    These are all the “small” steps that I take every day. I also like to limit myself to one serving of cheese a day. If I want a cheesy omelet, I’ll allow it, but then no more cheese indulgences later that day. Same thing with other high calorie condiments and toppings. Everything in moderation.
    Haley @ Running with Diapers recently posted…Mama & Baby One Week PostpartumMy Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:40 pm

      Little by little mama you’re doing a big job now!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014, 10:33 am

    Love the coconut water substitution! It’s a great idea, and we definitely have plenty of that here in Barbados!
    Bre & Ree recently posted…paleo butternut squash lasagnaMy Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:40 pm

      Yum! I’m so jealous!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014, 12:36 pm

    I love it! Great list of substitutions!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014, 2:53 pm

    Small steps are the best way to make progress…heck, I’m still in the middle of my own fitness journey 🙂 huge advocate of greek yogurt….and frozen yogurt too 🙂 sooo much better than ice cream IMO!
    Alysia @ Slim Sanity recently posted…Chocolate Coconut PopsiclesMy Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:41 pm

      I am too girl! Every once in a while I sneak a kids sized ice cream and immediately regret it!

  • Reply
    September 24, 2014, 9:14 pm

    Great tips and idea.
    For me it is the small things. Like when a friend and I got pizza Friday we did all veggie thin crust instead of thick crust or meat.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…Fall/Winter Race ScheduleMy Profile

  • Reply
    September 25, 2014, 7:23 am

    These are all great tips!
    Nicole @ myfitfamily recently posted…This is 36My Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:41 pm

      Thank you Nicole!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2014, 7:52 am

    So true Kat! It is the little changes that lead to permanent habits!
    Michelle @ Running with Attitude recently posted…ASICS GEL-Pursue ReviewMy Profile

  • Reply
    September 25, 2014, 8:07 am

    Brittany @ Delights and Delectables recently posted…Scenes from BostonMy Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:43 pm

      Thanks Brittany!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2014, 9:37 am

    Small changes are the only way I get any progress! The next two on my list are getting back to food prepping on the weekends and mixing in some intervals instead of all slow, steady runs.
    Lisa recently posted…Me vs. ThemMy Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:43 pm

      For sure, if I bite off too much I’m doomed!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2014, 11:10 am

    I’m still struggling with giving up my nightly bowl of ice cream, but with some important races coming up and lots of long training runs, I feel better without it. Who knows, maybe it will become a once a week treat!
    Pam recently posted…In the News (002)My Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:43 pm

      I just can’t have it in the house, but when you’re running that long it’s an easier trade off!

  • Reply
    September 25, 2014, 2:42 pm

    Great post! not only do the small things add up, but small changes encourage other small changes which lead to big progress 🙂 One step at a time!
    Laura @losingrace recently posted…Rochester Marathon Recap (Part I)My Profile

    • Reply
      September 25, 2014, 7:43 pm

      Thank you Laura!

  • Reply
    September 26, 2014, 11:15 am

    […] Just as you wouldn’t attempt to go from being a couch sitter to a marathon runner in a hot second, you don’t need to completely overhaul your diet all at once either. These small swaps, like intervals on cardio machines instead of steady-state cardio, can all add up to big changes over time. (Katrina Elle) […]

  • Reply
    September 29, 2014, 12:01 am

    […] How Small Substitutions Lead To Big Changes via Katrina […]

  • Reply
    January 23, 2015, 9:18 pm

    […] on big changes: with small substitutions  […]

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