15+ Actionable Small Steps to Make for Big Lifestyle Changes

15+ Actionable Small Steps to Make for Big Lifestyle Changes

At the beginning of the year, the air is rife with motivation. Your friends, family and coworkers may be striving to reach new goals in 2017 — losing weight, cutting sugar and alcohol, and much more. 

But, as we recently reported, resolutions fail.

Last week, we discussed overhauling your mindset as a key to sustainable changes — but how do you do that? Through small, incremental changes, rather than a total-life overhaul. When you aim to change drastically, your goals can quickly go from exciting and inspiring to overwhelming and defeating.

That’s why — no matter how you want your health to change in the new year — small steps are the key to getting there. Below, some suggestions to get you started and keep you motivated all year long.

Small Steps for Big Lifestyle Changes

Just walk.

For many people new to exercise — who don’t have a fitness routine at all, who hate exercise or who feel overwhelmed with options at the local gym — the best advice to to commit to putting one foot in front of the other.

Take this amazing story Michele Batz. Ph.D., wrote on FitDay.com. She asked a client who wanted to start exercising — but hated it — to commit to three 20-minute walks per week, in her most comfortable clothes and in tennis shoes.

The client tried it. Batz writes:

“Within weeks, I saw a more confident woman willing to accept new challenges in her life. What happened? Her self worth and self esteem rose, making her feel wonderful and wanting to live a fuller life. She registered for a yoga class and absolutely loved it. That led to walking her first 5K race and with that, she gained positive momentum. It was so enjoyable to watch this woman’s face being lifted, without going under the knife.”

Amazing!

women walking outdoors small steps healthy fun

Keep it specific.

Rather than aiming to lose 20 pounds, pick one habit you know needs an overhaul (say, your two cans of Coke a day habit). Commit to losing your single bad habit.

It might take weeks or months in this example, but eventually you’ll adjust to the taste of unsweetened beverages like iced tea and sparkling water — and you’ll be much healthier for it. (Take it from this former Diet Coke addict!) Next, you’ll wonder how you managed to drink so much of it in the first place, and you’ll be able to tackle your next diet demon.

Look for tiny opportunities.

WebMD calls the small changes to be healthy “micro-moments.” Whether it’s taking the stairs instead of an escalator, or ordering a side salad with your burger instead of fries, small chances to be healthier are all around — little or no effort required. And soon, you’ll notice how much better these efforts make you feel.

Here’s some more ideas:

  • Next time something stressful or infuriating happens, take a few deep breaths before reacting
  • Take time to greet your partner with a hug and a kiss in the morning and before bed (a tiny moment of connection that may make your relationship better)
  • Drink a glass of water next time an unhealthy food craving hits
  • Sit up straight
  • Set an alarm to get up from your desk and walk at least once an hour (drinking water at your desk helps with this)
  • Write down three things you’re grateful for
  • Skip the free donuts in the office this week
  • Do 20 air squats after your next bathroom break
  • Or 10 push-ups against the wall — quick and effective
  • Skip dessert tonight (just one night won’t kill you)
  • Skip the sugar in your coffee
  • Call a close friend or family member to connect for just a few minutes
  • Choose a healthier afternoon snack (like almonds or low-fat string cheese), just for today
  • Take a brisk 10-minute walk after lunch — you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!

TELL US: What tips or small steps have made big changes in your life?

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What to Read Next:

Changing Your Mindset to Improve Your Health

8 Social Psychology Hacks for Fitness Motivation

5 Reasons to Share Your Goals Out Loud

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