Monday, November 30, 2009
We’ve all made live-healthier declarations at the start of a new year (Exercise every day! No dessert!). Problem is, most of the time, they’re just too grand. The key to making resolutions stick is to take little steps toward your main goal. Here’s how to boil down those ambitions into action-size bites so that by year’s end, you’ll count yourself among the resolution keepers.
Your goal – Lose Weight
Resolve to---sit down whenever you eat. This simple behavioral change can help you lose several pounds without even trying. In fact, one study found that people ate 30% more when standing up. That’s partially because we tend to eat more quickly when we’re standing up and miss our body’s “fullness” signals that tell us when we’ve had enough.When you sit, you’ll eat more slowly and savor each bite, which will help you feel more satisfied.
Your goal – Eat Healthier
Resolve to---snack on one-ingredient foods. Many of us get a ¼ of our day’s calories from snacks, most of which aren’t healthy. Switch to one-ingredient snacks (think fruits, yogurt and nuts) or combos of one-ingredient foods (like trail mix) & you’ll eat fewer packaged & processed foods, which will help boost nutrition while decreasing calories. The more ingredients, the more processed it is. And processed foods tend to be higher in fat, salt, sugar & additives that we don’t need.
Your goal – Exercise Regularly
Resolve to---walk at least 5 minutes daily. It may not sound like very much, especially when you’ve heard you need to do at least 30 minutes daily. But at this point, it’s all about setting the groundwork to make exercise a habit. Building a habit gradually & consistently makes it more likely that you’ll stick with it long-term. After the first week or two, bump those walks up to 10 minutes; keep adding 5 minutes every week until you’re walking 30 minutes or more every day.
Your goal – Have More Energy
Resolve to---list 3 things you’re grateful for every day. It might sound silly, but it works. Negative thoughts are a big energy zapper, and this can help even the grumpiest of people feel just a little more positive. When researchers asked people to do one of 3 things-keep a diary of what happened to them that day, record unpleasant experiences or list the things for which they’re grateful-the gratitude group has 25% more energy. They also slept better & felt more alert & enthusiastic.
Your goal – Stress Less
Resolve to---hug someone every day. Studies show that hugging decreases levels of stress hormones & lowers blood pressure. In fact, one study found that people who have loving contact (like hugging) in the morning are protected against stress throughout the day. Cuddling with a pet counts, too, as a growing body of research shows that the mere presence of pets can help alleviate stress and lower blood pressure.