Recently, one of my clients offered some truly sage advice when she shared her recipe for health and fitness success: Getting healthier by the day. This approach—this mindset, this attitude—is a key component to a sustainable, long-term successful journey to improved health, body composition, and performance for a number of reasons as it:

This approach is really cool because it highlights action (i.e., what can you do right now, today), and it emphasizes the variables within your control: your behaviors and your attitudes.

It also helps you take on a more proactive mindset—instead of relying on being reactive. It also focuses our attention on behavior-based goals.

When we talk about goals, it’s important to distinguish between outcome- and behavior-based goals. Outcome-based goals (e.g., lose ‘x’ pounds) specify what we’d like to happen at the end of a certain time period. Generally speaking, outcomes are usually out of our control.

On the other hand, behavior-based goals are typically within our full control, and they specify what actions must be taken to get to the desired outcome. From an exercise standpoint, you might have a behavior-based goal of exercising for 45 minutes five times per week. From a nutrition standpoint, maybe it means boosting your protein intake, setting aside time for food prep, or doing a kitchen makeover to clear your house of tempting junk and trigger foods.

This mindset is also key because it highlights progress. In other words, good nutrition and being healthy is not about perfection; it’s about improvement, the process, the journey. It’s about making the best, wisest choices as often as possible. It’s about living with purpose and getting up each day being your “best self,” with integrity, and it’s about being self-compassionate and kind to yourself. It’s about pursuing health and wellness.

This attitude encourages a habit-based approach, which is sustainable and breeds success. In his book, The Power of Less, author Leo Babauta demonstrates the power and importance of taking things one step at a time. Specifically, Babauta conducted some informal behavior change experiments, and he found that:

  • If he assigned himself one practice/task/habit, he could do it consistently 85% of the time, which is very good.
  • If he assigned himself two new practices at a time, his success rate dropped dramatically, down to 35%.
  • If he assigned himself three or more new practices at a time, he was barely able to do anything!

The take-home point is, for lasting change, it’s crucial to focus on one small thing at a time. If possible, it’s often best to make it a daily practice. The more conscious you are of your “task,” the more likely you are to be mindful of it and stick with it.

This attitude promotes awareness, which encourages progress and growth. Awareness—paying attention to what is happening and why—allows us to:

  • Gain control
  • Lower stress and frustration
  • Prevent bad decisions before they happen, rather than feeling guilty afterward
  • Learn what we like and don’t like, what our “triggers” are, and how to work proactively
  • Recognize that we’re human
  • Bring out our best selves

Embrace the getting healthier by the day mindset, and take control of your health, nutrition, and body transformation journey. As yourself, “What’s one thing that I can do today, right now, to improve my health, fitness, and performance?”