Many of us make health-related resolutions, such as to lose weight, stop smoking or joining the health club in order to improve our lives, our energy and our health. While it is common to set high goals, experts say that setting smaller goals could actually do more for our health in the long run.
Here are 10 small steps to try:
Keep an eye on your weight and work on making sure you are not gaining extra lbs. Even if you gain just a pound or two every year, the extra weight adds up quickly over time. This affects your energy levels, your mindset and then it becomes even harder to lose!
Take more small steps. Use a pedometer to count your daily steps; then add 2,000, the equivalent of one extra mile. Keep adding steps, 1,000 to 2,000 each month or so, until you take 10,000 steps on most days. This is a simple way to get your body moving and your blood circulating.
Eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters tend to weigh less and have better diets overall. For a filling and nutrition-packed breakfast, top a bowl of oatmeal with fresh fruit slices, chia seeds and walnuts. If you don't want to go for a big meal in the morning, consider having a green smoothie which will get you started on the right foot with healthy ingredients.
Switch three grain servings each day to whole grain. If you're like the average American, you eat less than one whole grain serving a day. Substitute oats, whole-grain rye, 100% whole wheat products, buckwheat, spelt, quinoa and brown rice.
Have at least one green salad every day. Eating a salad of leafy greens and lots of fresh, organic veggies (with a homemade, healthy dressing) is filling and may help you eat less during the meal. It also counts toward your minimum of five daily cups of vegetables and fruits.
Trim the unhealthy fats. Fat has a lot of calories, and calories count. Purchase lean meats, eat poultry without the skin and use a nonstick pan with extra virgin olive oil or organic, grass-fed butter.
Consider calcium by including two or three daily servings of organic milk or Greek yogurt. Dairy calcium is good for bones and may also help you lose weight.
Downsize. The smaller the plate, bottle or bowl, the less you will eat.
Lose just 5 to 10 percent of your current weight if you are carrying extra pounds. The health benefits are huge--lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides.
Keep track of your eating. This is one of the most powerful tips! Write down what you eat over the next couple of days, keep track of how you feel after eating (bloated, anxious, fatigued, energized, etc.) and look for problem spots in your diet. Often, just writing things down can help you eat less while making healthier choices and more in line with what makes you feel good.
Try incorporating these small steps into your life regularly and they should turn into sustainable healthy habits over time. Before you know it, you will be on track with your nutrition and exercise to feel healthy, happy and energized!