I vowed to enter my 30s in the best shape of my life. But my Lose the Dough challenge has been harder than I thought. I struggled to keep my sweet tooth in check and battled with my pantry to find healthy choices before moving to a new apartment, so the past month hasn't been easy. I also dined out quite a bit over the course of the month, so I didn't think that I would make much progress on the scale—and if I did, it would be in the wrong direction!

So I was admittedly a little scared when I had to check in with my trainer last week.

Here's the shocker: I had lost 2.2 pounds and nearly 2% body fat! I completely exceeded my expectations for the first month! I definitely didn't lay off the dessert, so how could this have happened? Somehow my minor changes added up in a big way. Losing weight has always seemed sort of painful for me—something that requires diligence and commitment. But since I lost weight this month without really trying, maybe I was wrong.

Here are three small changes that lead to big results:

1. I added more strength training to my workouts.
I've always been somewhat consistent with strength training, but this month, I increased my workouts with two 50-minute Body Pump sessions each week. I already feel stronger and muscles that I didn't know I had are starting to show. Plus I lost 2% of my body fat, and I know strength training is responsible for most of that.

(Getty Images)

2. I cut down on alcohol.
One of my goals for Lose the Dough was to limit the number of cocktails I consumed in one sitting. Last month, I didn't have more than 2 drinks in an evening— and a couple of nights, I skipped the alcohol all together. I kept in mind that a cocktail was a treat and focused on enjoying it instead of slugging it down. I probably cut hundreds of calories from my diet—and it was completely painless!

3. I viewed dessert differently.
I had a few slipups with overdoing it on desserts, but I took my own advice and cut back on the amount and frequency of dessert that I consumed. I'm surprised that I don't miss it as much as I thought I would!

Small changes really do add up, so I'm actually looking forward to my next weigh in. Wish me luck on Month 2!

Read Tina's daily food and fitness blog, Carrots 'N' Cake.