Who’s made a new year’s resolution only to have ditched it less than one month later? I know I have.
But what if instead of big and grand resolutions we made small changes in our life that over time actually made a difference?
When I talk about changes I am suggesting little habits, thoughts, ideas, that over 2015 will add up to real results.
We all the know the most famous resolution is the “I am going to lose weight”, whether it is 5lbs or 50lbs, these resolutions almost always fall short. Why?
To lose any weight there has to be life changing actions made. Like going to the gym. You use to get up at 6am, get ready for work and get in around 9am. Then at about 5:30pm you head out, you go get groceries, make sure the kids get to the places they need, do laundry, clean the house, walk the dog… the list is endless. Then finally you get to bed and repeat it all again the next day.
How will you change that schedule to lose weight? Most will set a goal to get up an hour earlier 3 days out of the week (for example). While most start full steam ahead... that 1 less hour of sleep adds up. 2 weeks in and you are now behind 6 hours of quality sleep.
Those thoughts of quitting start sneaking in. It’s cold and dark, feels like you just went to bed. Before you know it that resolution is just a distant memory.
So why not start small? Changes that won’t cause a shake up to your daily schedule and fizzle out a few weeks in.
Make a little change or a few small changes that will add up over time.
Think about the big resolution that you want to make. Have it? Good!
Now how can we break that down into little changes that will help you get there?
At the end I am going to give you a list that will help with your overall health, from emotional health to physical health.
Since we started with the “lose weight resolution” lets keep going with that.
We know shaking up your entire life for a resolution rarely works, what are 5 small things that you can do to help this goal?
(For any large goal start here. What 5 small changes you can make that by themselves they won’t necessarily make a big impact right away but over time they will add up to make the change you desire.)
How about instead of getting up 1 hour earlier you get up 15 minutes earlier (Small change #1) to do a quick at home workout? While you are still in your pajamas.
And do it everyday, rather than 3 times a week, you will soon get accustomed to getting up 15 minutes early, in a few weeks it just becomes your normal time.
(In a future article I will write about quick 15 minute workout that can be done anywhere)
Onto another small change, you almost always skip breakfast. While there is some debate on whether it is healthy or not to extend your fast, what is not healthy is at about 10:30am you’re at the office and starving.
You don’t take lunch until about noon, so the food scavenge starts. “I’ll just have a quarter of a donut that was brought in this morning”. Before you know it you ate two donuts one quarter at a time.
Oh and don’t forget the diet coke you drank as well. And don’t try to justify it by saying it has no calories. You know the fake sugar (aspertame) signals the body to become more hungry and the next time you eat you will overeat to make up for those empty calories in the diet soda.
How about instead you eat breakfast (small change #2) and forget about the donut and diet coke. Eating breakfast can be as simple as an apple and some peanut butter. The real peanut butter not the sugar packed stuff.
Did you know eggs cook very well in the microwave? Or reheating pre-cooked eggs. Make a giant egg bake with some veggies, frozen chicken, and a little bit of cheese. Add a small handful of almonds in and you have a fulfilling breakfast.
Don’t over complicate it, simple and easy is the way to go.
Let’s talk about lunch, how many times are you rushing to get out of the house and you say “forget it I’ll just order or go out to lunch.” We know that’s never the best option.
How about doubling up on how much you normally make for dinner (small change #3). Having burgers for dinner? How about make an extra one and save it for lunch the following day.
Don’t like to eat the same thing two days in a row? Make that extra burger, grab a bag of pre-mixed salad, boom hamburger salad. Skip the pre-made dressing (normally loaded with sugar. Even the vinaigrettes) Mix up your own. Dijon mustard and olive oil makes a great healthy dressing.
Let’s roll number 3 into number 4, you don’t cook dinner. I’ve been there, get home exhausted tired and the thought of cooking dinner feels like you are about to run a marathon. And then the clean up. How I hate the clean up.
How about a crock pot recipe? (Small change #4) You can make wonderful meals in a crock pot. I’ll write up some healthy options later but for now why don’t you head over to Google and see what’s out there. (Hint: search simple healthy crock pot recipes)
You can prepare a couple of these on the weekend. And by prepare I mean buy and cut whatever is necessary. Then the night before throw it in the crock pot, store in the refrigerator and right before you go to work plug it in and when you get home … voilà...dinner is made.
For the last small change how about something right before bed. Now this might be asking a little much and for some, falls into the category of a resolution. But remember start small.
Read for 15 minutes before bed, instead of watching TV (Small Change #5). You might be asking “how does this affect my weight loss goal?”
Light greatly affects our sleep, this is a whole topic in itself. To get a good night sleep and make sure you have the energy throughout the day, shut the screens off before bed. This means phones, TVs, and tablets. Read a book, a magazine, anything that isn’t a screen.
Screens, like smartphones, computers, tablets, TVs emit blue light. Blue light disrupts melatonin, the hormone responsible for your circadian rhythm. That internal 24 hour clock that helps you fall asleep (and stay asleep) as well as help you get up in the morning rather than rolling over and hitting snooze 5 times.
I know for 2015 this might be asking a lot, but improve your sleep and you will improve more than just a healthy weight.
There it is, a breakdown of how to start with small changes to create a big resolution!
Here is a list, by no means all inclusive, that you can choose from to create small changes that over time will have a huge affect on you both physically and mentally.
Add lemon to your water - Excellent source of potassium, aids digestion, cleanse your system and the list goes on.
Drink a homemade smoothie with spinach (I promise you can’t taste it)
5 minutes of yoga/stretching (First thing in the morning or right before bed)
1 mile walk right after work
Read instead of watching TV
Drink more water (I’m not going to say how much, try just an extra glass for breakfast.)
If you have a desk job stand up every half hour and walk for a minute around the office. (If you walk quickly people will think you are doing something important and won’t think twice about it)
Get a fitness band. Being aware of your sleep and activity will help you achieve your goals.
Make extra dinner for leftovers to bring for lunch
Turn off the screens before bed
Take a vitamin D supplement or get 15 minutes of sun per day
Keep a daily motivational calendar on your desk, your refrigerator, or your bathroom mirror.
Slow down while you eat. Eating too quickly easily allows you to overeat after you are satiated. Try fully chewing your food almost to a liquid and I guarantee you will eat slower.
Swap your chair for a stability ball to practice “active sitting”. It will tone your abs and activate your lower body!
Eat good fats, like olive oil and avocado. People who eat fat free often end up consuming more starch and sugar and ultimately gaining weight.
Laugh Often- Laughter can increase your infection fighting antibodies while boosting your mood. Read a funny book or go see a comedy show, find things that make you laugh. Just spending more time with friends tends to do this.
Cut out processed bread. The average slice of bread contains up to 3g of sugar, that’s more than a hershey’s kiss.
Breathe Deeply: Breathing is a powerful workout tool. Mindful/deep breathing helps fend off muscle cramps and can increase endurance. First thing in the morning or right before you go to bed is often the best time.
What are you waiting for? Don’t wait until “Monday”, start now. Figure out your 5 small changes and start today. If you small changes feel life changing they are going to fizzle out. They need to just fit in!
To a great 2015!
What are some other small changes that are not listed above that you have found work great for you? List them in the comments section.