“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change”


Have you ever heard someone say, “I’m not on a diet. I’m making a lifestyle change,” or even said it yourself?

Guilty as charged! There was a time that I believed you could actually make a lifestyle change by finding a magical way of eating and working out then sticking to it forever. 

Spoiler alert: It doesn’t exist.


It’s like when you start a program, get some decent results and feel amazing, so you exclaim, “I feel so good, I’m going to keep doing this forever! This is totally doable,” to your partner.

Five months later they ask you what happened to your “lifestyle change.” (You’re eating mint chocolate chip ice cream with a spoon straight out of the half-gallon container at the time. But you put the container in a bowl, so it’s okay 😉.

You’re like, “What? I never said that. It’s impossible to eat boiled chicken and steamed broccoli forever. I would never say that.” 

This is the typical cycle of failure you’ll find yourself in when you only have ONE plan and nothing to fall back on or keep you on track.

Enter a key piece of the “lifestyle change” puzzle: The ideal and minimum plan.

Helpful habits include a minimum and an ideal plan so you can always move towards your goals and maintain the results you desire to have.


An ideal plan is what your best intentions are. It’s the plan you’d follow 100% of the time to get the fastest possible results. You feel so accomplished every day that you cross it off your list. 

This is your 20-minute morning meditation, perfectly prepped meal of boiled chicken and steamed broccoli, 60-minute workout in the gym consisting of 20 minutes on the treadmill followed by a well-rounded total body resistance workout. 

Unfortunately, it only gets crossed off on the days where everything goes perfect. 

Because on the days when you wake up late, burn your forehead on the curling iron in a rush, and knock your full cup of coffee off your desk and into your lap as soon as you sit down...the last thing on your mind is following your ideal plan.

Ideal plans are just that. It’s what you do the days when everything ideally works out. Most people only have that option as a part of their plan. They don’t create a backup or a minimum plan for those other days. It’s one of the main reasons you find yourself sitting on the couch eating out of the ice cream container again.

Before we get into what a minimum plan looks like and how to create yours, let’s go over the most common reasons people don’t create them in the first place.


  1. I don’t need a minimum plan. I am committed to achieving my goals and I am committed to my one and only plan.
  2. A minimum plan is a fallback, an excuse to be lazy. If I make a minimum plan, I won’t be able to get myself to do my ideal plan...like ever.
  3. If I only do the bare minimum, I’ll never get any results.


  1. When has that EVER worked out for you? I mean, would you even be reading this right now if it did? Ideal plans are great for the ideal days but the reality is, there are a lot more “less than ideal” days when you truly can’t make it work. 
  2. If you can’t get yourself to do your ideal plan on your ideal days (with or without having a minimum plan) then you have the WRONG ideal plan. There is always another option to help you reach your goals. Always.
  3. Tiny consistent actions yield massive results. Think of it like compound interest for your body and life. A small daily investment builds overtime. At first, it doesn’t seem like much is happening, but when you look back a year later you’re practically a new person.


I get these types of questions all the time:

“Should I eat cooked vegetables or raw vegetables? Which is better?”

“Should I do cardio before or after my resistance workout? Which is better?”

This way of thinking is what we call “mowing your lawn while your house is on fire.” It’s worrying about details (perfectly manicured blades of grass) that don’t matter when you haven’t taken care of the bigger picture (your house on fire).

To these questions I always reply, “Which one will result in you actually doing [the action]?” 

If you’re missing vegetables in your diet, just start eating them, whatever that looks like. Cook them, juice them, eat them raw...until you’re getting them in consistently. Just do what you need to do to get them in your belly. Once you’re consistent, then it’s time to start dialing it in.

This is probably the number one reason people get stuck

Think about it…(assuming that these are an appropriate part of your ideal plan)

Is it more helpful to eat a carrot (prepared any way) or not eat any vegetables?

Is it more helpful to get cardio in at all (regardless of where it falls in your timeline) or do zero cardio?

🤦‍♀️ Eureka! Of course! I’ll actually do something because it’s better than nothing. And something at least gets me closer to my goal. Even if it’s just 1% better.


The “do something” is the minimum plan. It’s what you do to make sure that you are doing something to help you move forward. Life is constantly moving forward, if you’re standing still, you’re actually moving backwards. 

If you can’t get your ideal 20-minute morning meditation in, your minimum might be 60 seconds of some heart focused breathing

If you can’t make it to the gym for your typical hour-long workout, your minimum might be jumping jacks for 60 seconds, a brisk walk around the block, 10 pushups, or 10 crunches. 

If you’re working on getting your veggies in but looking at your salad makes you want to vomit, your minimum might be eating one carrot or drinking a cold-pressed vegetable juice from the market.

It doesn’t really matter what your minimum is. It just needs to be something that you will actually do no matter what. And you can even have a list of minimum options so that if you don’t feel like doing one, there is another option ready to roll.

If you find that you can’t get yourself to do any of your minimums or your ideal consistently, that’s okay. It’s feedback. And feedback is always good when you’re watching for it and using it to evolve. 

This particular feedback is another clue that what you’ve chosen isn’t right for you right now, and it’s time to reevaluate your goal, plan and priorities to make sure they are aligned.

Having a lifestyle that supports your goals involves having helpful habits like establishing ideal and minimum plans. It’s those magical minimum plans that keep you always moving forward. So what are you waiting for? Make some minimums today!


Sending you love, health and happiness,

Marylynn Burrows
Holistic Health Coach
Nutrition Coach
Personal Trainer
Owner: Serenity Fitness LLC
Creator of the Limitless Transformation Program

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