Seeking more energy, better commitment to fitness and smarter eating habits for your next lap around the sun? Here are mini resolutions that are way more impactful than say, vowing to drop 20 pounds before spring.
Why thinking small works
Instead of declaring a sweeping resolution that—let’s be honest, you’ll probably forget about in February—making micro monthly goals can be more effective. “Attempting to improve your health is much easier when you take small steps towards wellness, one step at a time, one bite at a time,” explains Patricia Greenberg, a health and nutrition expert and author. “Jumping in too quickly often results in disappointing progress or, worse, an injury because you are hoping for a quick fix or an unattainable goal.”
To make a true commitment to your health and transform your lifestyle in a long-term, meaningful way, try manageable tweaks. “Starting today, set small, easy-to-complete goals for yourself, and you’ll see over time how you can add a little more each day to get to where you want to be. Eventually these will become your habit,” she explains.
Here, your month-by-month guide to better health in 2018.
January: Makeover your pantry
You made it to the gym after a stressful planning meeting at work and you somehow managed to drink four full glasses of water throughout the day. You’re on the right track, but then it’s suddenly 10 p.m. and you’re staring down that box of Girl Scout cookies in your cabinet, wondering if one bite will make that much of a difference. The solution: a top-to-bottom pantry makeover so you never get in that position in the first place. “The physical action of changing over a pantry is very satisfying, and it’s step one when thinking of small achievable goals,” says Maya Feller, RD. Swap out those processed salty and sugary foods (Bye-bye, potato chips!) for minimally processed whole foods (Hello, raw nuts, quinoa, and dried fruit!). If you do want to keep an indulgent treat or two, place it on a high shelf that you don’t use regularly, so it’s not the first thing you see when you open the cupboard in search of something to eat. “We know when smart food choices are accessible and convenient, people are more likely to make healthful balanced meals.” Find out the 19 pantry staples healthy folks always have on hand.
February: Get your heart racing
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Celebrate Heart Health Month by focusing on cardio, suggests Joseph Young, MD, hypertension lead and researcher at Kaiser Permanente. Because this essential organ is paramount to your vitality and longevity, keeping it in tip-top shape will improve your energy levels and help build endurance. “It’s as simple as walking outdoors or indoors at a shopping mall,” he says. “Regular, moderate physical activity, or walking 30 minutes a day, five times a week, helps lower blood pressure because exercise helps the heart work more efficiently. Pick something you enjoy and make it a habit.” Want to do more for your ticker? Here are the 15 best ways you can improve your heart health.