Writer Robert Brault once said, “Enjoy the little things in life for one day you’ll look back and realize they were the big things.” While there is a deeper philosophical meaning to this quote that we’d love to talk about in length, it can also be applied to how you approach improving your health. January is obviously a popular time to make resolutions toward being healthier, living better, and making changes for the better. We applaud those and cheer you on toward achieving them. However, before you dive into the deep end with big goals that may seem great in theory but are not necessarily realistic for the here and now, start small.
Just like with everything, you must walk before you can run–and in this case, that’s meant in the more philosophical than literal sense (although both hold a lot of truth). Whatever improvement you are after, break it down into smaller steps. If you want to run a marathon, start by walking. If you want to eat healthier, start by ditching one junk food for a day, then try for two days, and so on. But here’s the bigger truth: You don’t have to run a marathon, give up all foods that you love, or even abandon downtime on your couch with your favorite TV series in order to be healthy. Sure, those all help, but all or nothing is a tough route to take and one that is often abandoned for old habits. Instead, focus on the little things, because when it comes to your health, they might just be the big things. Here’s a list to get you started.
- Want to drink 8 glasses of water a day? Start by drinking one more a day than your normal intake.
- Swap out chips for a piece of fruit or a small salad for one lunch this week.
- When your nighttime sweet tooth starts craving ice cream, grab a cup of frozen Greek yogurt instead.
- Take your snack for a walk. Instead of eating your afternoon treat at your desk while you work, eat it on the go. You’ll be more mindful of the food–which can make the snack more enjoyable–and you’ll be moving, too.
- Food journals are great for keeping track of food and portions you’re consuming but can be overwhelming with constant logging. Choose two days each week, or a 4-hour window each day to journal instead. If breakfast and lunch tend to be healthy meals for you, journal dinners or snack times that tend to be tougher on your willpower.
- Combine evening downtime with fat burning by working out during the commercials of your favorite TV shows.
- Instead of letting Fido out in the backyard, take the dog for a walk around the neighborhood for bonding time that also burns fat.
- Strength training is an awesome way to shed weight, but barbells and dumbbells can be intimidating. Choose body weight exercises instead, such as chair dips to tone upper arms, soup-can bicep curls, and walking lunges to firm below the waistline.
- If eating out is something you’d like to limit, plan a dinner party with friends one night a month where you cook for your company. Keep the menu healthy, and you’ll get a great meal in a social setting, without a waiter to tip.
- Have to eat while out? Order from the kids’ menu. Meal sizes are smaller and many now come with more healthy side options than do the adult variety.
What small changes have you found helpful for your healthy life goals? Share with others in the comments!