The Power of the Small Things
By Emily G Samuels, MS, RD, LDN
Did you make a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier and exercise? If you are like many, it can be challenging to stay committed for the year. Look no further for inspiration to help make your New Year’s goals last.
Small Steps = Big Changes
To make changes that will last, we need to practice breaking them down into smaller parts. If your goal is to use your new gym membership, then commit to going every day for 15 minutes so the task feels less daunting. If you are trying to be more physically active, then track your steps and set a goal to add another 1,000 steps per day until that goal can be doubled.
Small Things = Great Power
Small changes can ultimately result in major life changes. If you tend to snack while watching TV on the couch at night, then consider changing your location. Try reading a book in bed instead. Even if night eating was not on your radar, disrupting your normal rhythm can indirectly and significantly support your health goals. For example, eliminating 250 calories per day may help you to lose another 25 pounds this year.
What else has great power? Food! From crunchy omega-3 healthy fats in chia seeds to energy yielding properties in whole grains, we cannot forget the importance of selecting our food wisely.
Many Hills vs One Mountain
Another approach for success in 2020 is to designate a new goal each month, which may seem less daunting than setting a whole bunch of goals all at once. Some believe that the more challenging a goal is to keep, the less likely it will be kept. Instead of unreasonable or rigid goals, commit to a collection of goals each month. Curious to see what that could look like? Consider the list below.
Examples of Monthly Goals:
Month 1: Try one new vegetable, whole grain, and /or protein each week. Learn how to prepare it two ways.
Month 2: Sign up for and try different kinds of exercise classes (Zumba, Yoga, Aqua Aerobics, Kick Boxing or cardio classes, to name a few.)
Month 3: Ask a co-worker or friend to join you for an exercise activity or class.
Month 4: Track food intake daily.
Month 5: Hydrate more often! Be diligent about drinking calorie-free fluids between every meal. Purchase a new water bottle to keep track of your daily intake.
Month 6: Meditate and practice deep breathing every day for 10 minutes.
Month 7: Strengthen your core muscles to support your back. Find exercises you can do at home for 10-15 minutes every day.
Month 8: Make meals in advance for a week so they’re pre-portioned and ready to go.
Month 9: Eat mindfully. Pick one meal every day to enjoy with minimal distraction. Set a place setting, use a nice plate, listen to relaxing music and practice tasting your food one bite at a time.
Month 10: If you’re prone to nighttime snacking in front of the TV, read in bed each night rather than your usual pre-bedtime routine.
Month 11: Make a new recipe twice a week.
Month 12: Practice self-care. Commit to opening up 30 minutes every day to do what makes you happy and healthier. It could be anything from exercising to writing to taking a nap. Make yourself a priority, 30 minutes per day.
Make this year special and make it count. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s ok to slow down. Goals don’t have to be big to count. And if you are still struggling with these commitments, forgive yourself and get right back at it. Starting again and without punishment is perhaps your one greatest goal of all.
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