Without exception, January 1st marks the yearly anniversary of people sending me hundreds of excited and desperate emails asking if some new exotic exercise or diet plan will work for them. Usually these plans involve removing one or more food groups, over exercising, or purchasing very expensive pieces of useless equipment. It’s really important to remember that the more drastic of a change we make in our lives, the shorter that change will last. The key to success is to make small, sustainable changes one at a time. Hold these four principles in the front of your mind whenever you consider making changes this year, and you’ll thank yourself.
Step First, The Run
Rather than going from being sedentary to trying to train for a marathon, try adding 1,000 steps to your daily step goal per week until you hit 10,000 steps a day. How can you do this? Park your car one block away from your destination, take a morning coffee walk to your local cafe instead of brewing a cup at home, or go for an after-dinner walk. You’ll be surprised how quickly the steps add up.
Cut Out Calorie Bombs, Not Entire Food Groups
Instead of drastically cutting your caloric intake from 5,000 calories a day to 1,000 calories a day, you might want to consider a more gradual approach. Take small steps, like shrinking your daily giant caramel latte to a medium size and then a small before dropping the habit altogether. You could save around 170 calories every day, 1,190 calories per week. Rather than digging into a morning yogurt parfait with granola at 290 calories, opt for plain yogurt with berries. You could save 100 calories. Also think about swapping your glass of morning juice for real fruit. You’ll pack in more fiber and consume close to half the calories.
Find Your Fit, Don’t Go Cookie Cutter
One important thing to keep in mind: only make lifestyle changes that are enjoyable. If you hate spinach, forcing yourself to eat keeping multiple servings of spinach every day will not last. Instead, focus on the few veggies you do like. For example, I love cucumbers and broccoli. I add cucumbers to my sandwiches and salads for that extra crunch and blend up broccoli for a delicious, creamy soup. The same goes for fitness; there is no “one size fits all” prescription. If you’re like me and don’t love running, forcing yourself to do sprints every day until you’re nauseous won’t last. Instead, go for walks with friends to get a coffee, go dancing, or play sports that you enjoy.
Focus on The Big Picture, Not Just Small Wins
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “there is strength in numbers.” That adage is an important principle when it comes to improving your health. Rather than making one giant change in your life, make a few gradual small changes over time. Remember, improving your health is not a sprint; rather it’s a marathon that never ends. Make 2019 the year you finally understand the words moderate, sustainable, and enjoyment.
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.