Research shows that making small, step-by-step changes, instead of Major, Earth-Shaking Resolutions, can set you up for success.
That means that this year, don’t promise you’ll lost 20 pounds or go 100% Paleo or make an extra $10K. Instead, create a list of small changes that will get you to that end goal. Small steps that we’ll call lifestyle adjustments, because adjustments are easier to stick with than major changes.
1. Don’t Worry About Exercise; Just Get Active
If you loathe the thought of exercise (or even just the word “exercise”), don’t promise yourself that 2016 is your year to start exercise. Instead, think of it as activity. Promise yourself you’ll move more everyday, even if it’s just a little bit more than you moved yesterday. This can be as easy as taking the stairs to the office or walking to not the closest, but the second-closest favorite lunch spot. Every little bit of activity helps.
2. Clean Up Your Diet
Another big promise people make come the New Year? That they’re going to achieve the perfect diet. Reality check: No one eats perfectly for every meal. So instead of holding yourself to an impossible standard, simply promise yourself to do better. If you cook approximately zero nights a week, challenge yourself to ditch the takeout once or twice weekly. If you love carbs and meat, commit to eating a low-carb, veggie-packed meal a couple times a month. Whenever you can, incorporate fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, whole grains, and lean protein, and you’ll be well on your way to the almost-perfect diet.
3. Bust Out the Stress-Busters
Did you know that lowering your stress can not only prevent heart disease, but also reverse it? (‘Tis true.) So this year, make small lifestyle changes to reduce your stress: put the kibosh on political discussions, if they send your blood pressure soaring. Reserve a few minutes everyday to enjoy your garden. Take a walk or schedule a yoga class. And spend time – lots of time – with the people you love.
4. Let it Go
My apologies to the parents of young children; “That Song” is now in your head again (and it’s probably going to stay there for a torturous amount of time). But here’s the deal: letting go of anger, or frustration, or grudges, or any other soul-sucking emotion can have surprising, but very real benefits to your health. Seriously. Letting go has been proven to lower blood pressure, improve breathing, reduce anxiety and yep, make you feel better. So forgive. Forget. Let go. Turn away and slam the door [on stress]. (I just can’t help myself.)
5. Involve Your Friends & Family
We all know that having an accountability buddy vastly increases our success rate. But that’s not what we’re talking about, not exactly. Of course, cluing your friends and family into your lifestyle adjustments will help you stick to new habits, but even more importantly?
Friendship has been shown to improve life span and boost life satisfaction. And if that seems like common knowledge, it is. But in an age of rush-around-everywhere, schedules-tighter-than-a-corset daily life, here’s your gentle reminder: make time for your friends and loved ones. Spend quality time together. Eat together. Play together. Be active together.
Here’s to a happy, healthy 2016!