Many of us make health-related resolutions, such as to lose weight, stop smoking or join the neighborhood health club. While it is common to set high goals, experts say that setting smaller goals could do more for our health than high goals.
“Small steps are achievable and are easier to fit into your daily routine,” says James O. Hill, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. “They are less overwhelming than a big, sudden change.”
Here are 10 steps to try:
- Keep an eye on your weight and work on making sure you are not gaining extra pounds of fat. Even if you gain just a pound or two every year, the extra weight adds up quickly.
- 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.
- Eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters tend to weigh less and have better diets overall. For a filling and nutrition-packed breakfast, try adding breakfast with fresh fruit slices and low-fat or fat-free milk.
- Switch three grain servings each day to whole grain like oats, whole wheat and whole wheat derivatives, brown rice, barley, corn, quinoa, rye, buckwheat, and millet. These foods might seem ordinary but they have a lasting effect on the body if consumed regularly. You eat less than one whole grain serving a day. Whole grains are cereals or pseudocereal that contains the endosperm, germ, and bran.
- Have at least one green salad every day. Eating a salad (with low-fat or fat-free dressing) is filling and may help you eat less during the meal. It also counts toward your five daily cups of vegetables and fruits.
- Trim the fat. Fat has a lot of calories, and calories count. Purchase lean meats, eat poultry without the skin, switch to lower-fat dairy, use a nonstick pan with only a dab of oil or butter.
- Consider calcium by including two or three daily servings of low-fat or fat-free milk or Greek yogurt. Dairy calcium is good for bones and may also help you lose weight.
- Downsize. The smaller your plate, bag, bottle or bowl, the less you will eat.
- Lose just 5/10% of your current weight. The health benefits are huge-lower blood pressure, diabetics, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Keep track of what you eat. Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat over the next couple of days and look for problem spots. Often, just writing things down can help you eat less.