By Breanna Woods, Contributing blogger
It’s January, which means New Year’s resolutions are in full swing. Unfortunately, it’s likely that many resolutions have already fizzled, or will soon enough. One major reason why so many resolutions fall to the wayside is that they are simply too big.
Large, overwhelming goals might seem innocent enough because we are often thinking about long-term change. And thinking long-term is definitely the way to go when it comes to health and fitness lifestyle change! However, choosing a resolution such as cutting out entire food groups, or to exercise 6 days per week when you haven’t exercised in months is a recipe for failure.
People are often more successful with small, attainable goals. Smaller goals are less overwhelming, but just as rewarding when you achieve them. Each time you conquer a small goal, you will be motivated to tackle the next one.
Think about your New Year’s resolution
What kind of goal did you set for yourself this year? Are you already overwhelmed by the planning and the work that is going into your goal? Can you break it down into smaller goals that build up to the lifestyle change you’re working towards?
If you need help brainstorming, these ideas for small resolutions to help you make big changes will help you rethink your New Year’s resolution to have your most successful year yet!
1. Walk More!
A resolution to exercise when you’re starting fresh doesn’t need to be intense. If you go from zero exercise to high-intensity workouts 6 days per week, you’re likely to burn out or even injure yourself.
If you have a way to track steps like a fitness watch, set a daily step goal. Start at 5,000 steps per day and work your way up to 10,000. Or, just challenge yourself to spend a certain amount of time walking each day. Feel free to break your time up into 10 minute increments throughout the day.
Start small if you need to, and build up!
2. Drink more water
Most of us need to drink more water. Staying hydrated is extremely important for the body. It will also help with overeating, if that’s something you struggle with. Drinking enough water may also help you feel more energized throughout the day, and it’s great for your skin!
Track your water intake using a reusable water bottle. Again, start small and don’t force yourself to drink a gallon per day from the get go. Instead, set a goal to drink one additional cup of water to your usual intake. Then, build up to your ideal goal.
3. Less screen time
Although small, this change is harder for more people than you’d think! Time on a computer, watching TV or scrolling on our phones is often sedentary time. If you struggle to find time to exercise or cook, screen time might be a good place to open up some free time for these healthier goals.
First, simply evaluate your screen time. Be mindful about how much time you may sit at a computer each day for work, as well as how much time you spend watching TV or on your phone at home.
Next, set a goal to somehow cut some screen time each day. This small change will alter your routine just enough to incorporate a new habit like exercise, meal prep or going to bed earlier.
4. Take the stairs
This simple goal can have a big impact. If you tend to take the elevator in your workplace, try the stairs. Simply climbing a couple of flights a few times per day gets your heart rate up and burns calories. After a few weeks, you’ll notice that climbing stairs feels easier! It’s also a great way to take a short mental break when you hit that 2 o’clock wall during the work day.
If you have stairs at home and you’re able, make a point to go up and down a few times per day for a short exercise break.
5. Include a veggie with each meal
There’s no need to completely overhaul your diet all at once. Diet changes take time and planning, and may be the most overwhelming lifestyle change of all. Instead, make one small change - give veggies a spot on your plate with each meal. Vegetables are filling and low in calories. Therefore, you can simply replace a portion of something less healthy with a vegetable.
For example, instead of eating two slices of pizza, replace one slice with a salad or some baby carrots. The vegetables will fill you up for far less calories, but you still satisfy your craving for pizza.
6. Pack your lunch
Packing lunch will save money and calories. Don’t stress too much over what exactly you pack if taking lunch is already new for you. Simply taking food from home is already a change your body (and your wallet) will thank you for! If packing lunch is difficult at first, start with taking lunch two or three days per week. Eventually, try to build up to taking lunch most or all of the week.
After you adjust to planning and packing for each day, build on this goal by learning to meal prep healthy meals.
7. Get enough of sleep
Keeping up with work, family, your social life, self-care and your home may leave you sacrificing some shuteye. However, sleep is the foundation for our health! Running on little sleep may affect your metabolism, mood and brain function - pretty important stuff!
If your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight or something similar, you might want to evaluate your sleep first. If you know you aren’t getting enough, try to get to bed earlier. Then, take note of any changes you notice (i.e. more energy for exercise, better controlled appetite).
Make this your most successful New Year’s resolution yet!
If you feel yourself slipping on your New Year’s resolution, it’s not too late! These goals are in reach and buildable for anyone. Use them to work your way towards the big changes you try but struggle to make year after year!