Biting off more than you can chew is usually disastrous when making long-term changes. In order for a lifestyle change to last, approach it as a process of evolution instead of one big, complicated resolution.
Because all of those unhealthy behaviors evolved over time, you should expect to conquer them over time. As you create a new habit and are confident about it, then add a new goal. Achieve that goal, then repeat.
Once you’ve identified the area of your life you want to change, pick a small step to start with. Especially at the beginning, don’t be embarrassed to pick one that you are 120% confident you can achieve. Starting from a solid base of success will build your confidence moving forward.
We’ve come up with a few easy “baby steps” to get you started:
Nutrition and Diet
- Consume more plants: More fiber, vitamins, minerals, and taste – you can’t go wrong.
- Add one more serving of vegetables a day.
- Try a new vegetable or fruit each week.
- Have a meatless dinner each week with beans or other plant-based protein.
- Make it a game and try to get a plant of each color of the rainbow throughout the week.
- Get cooking: Eating out is generally unhealthy and expensive.
- Make a simple sack lunch instead of eating out a couple times a week. It can even be leftovers from the night before.
- Keep it simple with a chicken breast, steamed vegetables, and a healthy starch for dinner.
- Stock up with healthy and easy crock-pot meals. Recipes are available online so you can cook a batch on your day off, freeze, and enjoy over time – with the convenience of heat and eat!
- Cut back slowly: Cold turkey is a sure way to freeze your success.
- Sugar in your coffee? Cut it in half and give it a week or so. Then cut it in half again until you reach a point you’re happy with.
- Love that red meat? Replace one meat and potatoes night each week with a chicken and potatoes night. Feeling adventurous? Replace it with a fish and vegetables night!
- Bread-a-holic? Try having an open-faced sandwich with just one slice of bread or make a whole grain tortilla roll-up instead. Cut rolls in half and share with your neighbor.
Movement and Exercise:
- Add one extra movement to your day: You’re building a new life, so start with a new routine.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park at the outside borders of the lot or several blocks from your destination for extra steps.
- Walk to the farthest restroom in your building when you take a break.
- Make an exercise date: Treat your health with as much importance as your business meetings.
- Just pick one day or even two and make a date for 30 minutes in your calendar – actually write it in your schedule.
- If 30 minutes seems too long, try a short, but effective Tabata
- If that even still feels like too much pressure, decide to just get dressed for a workout and step into the gym at that scheduled time. You’ll probably find that once you place that foot into the gym, you’ll exercise anyway. And if not, you still achieved your goal and started creating a habit.
- Join a team or take a class: Add more movement and have fun at the same time.
- Quidditch anyone? Join a neighborhood softball or basketball team. Or express yourself with roller derby or bowling. And there really are Quidditch leagues if you’re a Harry Potter fan!
- Be like Bruce Lee. Martial arts can be good for the body and the mind. Plus, an excuse to release excess energy in a cathartic way.
- Flexible and strong. Yoga classes are all around. Ask when you register if there is a beginner class or help with modifications. And don’t worry about perfect form or if you can even do every position. It will come.
Other bite-size healthy changes:
- Unplug: Taking a break from technology has benefits you probably haven’t even considered. Check out this article for more information and easy ideas.
- Mindfulness: You don’t have to have a structured routine to benefit from mindfulness. Pick a regularly occurring event and create the intention to stop, breathe, and observe when that event happens.
- When waiting at a crosswalk, take a few deep breaths and find 5 details around you that you may not have noticed before.
- Each time you get in your car, before putting your seatbelt on and inserting the key in the ignition, close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and note what your senses discover.
- As you brush your teeth, focus on the experience, how the bristles feel on your teeth, the flavors and textures of the toothpaste, the feel of the toothbrush in your hand.
- Posture: Improve your posture to improve circulation, decrease pain, and increase confidence. It’s easy to build into your day.
- Pick a color or object or word. When you run across that color/object/word in your daily activities, check your posture.
- Each time you sit at your desk, take a moment to assess your posture and start your next segment of work on the right path.
- Not sure what it means to have good posture? This infographic is a great place to start.
You’ve heard it before, but that’s because it’s true. Small changes add up and before you know it, a big change has taken place. Your evolving health will mean more and last a lifetime if you make it a lifestyle rather than a short-term challenge.
What is your first “one change” going to be?