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. “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 to try:
1. Keep an eye on your weight and work on making sure you are not gaining extra. Even if you gain just a pound or two every year, the extra weight adds up quickly. My advice would be to weigh yourself once per week if you are attempting to lose weight or once per month if you are looking to maintain your current weight.
2. 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. By increasing your steps you will increasing your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) and you will also improve your cardio health.
3. Eat breakfast. Breakfast eaters tend to weigh less and have better diets overall. For a filling and nutrition-packed breakfast, have a bowl of oatmeal with almond milk and top with fresh fruits and a drizzle of honey. If you are someone who just can’t stomach breakfast or feel that you don’t have the time then look for some simple alternatives, such as fresh juice or a protein packed smoothie.
4. Switch three grain servings each day to whole grain. If you’re like the average Westerner, you eat less than one whole grain serving a day. Whole grains have a whole host of health benefits and are great for sustained energy throughout the day.
5. Have at least one green salad every day. Eating a salad (with a healthy dressing) is filling and may help you eat less during the meal. It also counts toward your five daily cups of vegetables and fruits. You can get inventive with your salads and its a good idea to include a source of protein in there as well.
6. Trim the fat. Fat has a lot of calories (9 kcals per gram to be exact), and calories count. Consume lean meats, eat poultry without the skin, switch to lower-fat cheeses, use a nonstick pan with only a dab of oil or butter or an air fryer. Don’t avoid fats altogether though as they are essential for a healthy mind and body. Look to get about 25-30% of your daily intake from fats and choose healthy fats when possible.
7. Consider calcium by including two or three daily servings of milk or yogurt. Dairy calcium is good for bones and may also help you lose weight. If dairy isn’t your thing you can get calcium from other sources, such a spinach or fortified flour foods.
8. Downsize. The smaller plate, bowl or cup the less you will eat. Understanding your serving sizes is an important part of maintaining a healthy weight. It can be easy to underestimate just how much you are consuming by eating from bigger dishes.
9. If you are overweight then losing just 5 to 10 percent of your current weight can have huge health benefits, such as – lower blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides.
10. Keep track of your eating and drinking. Write down what you eat and drink over the next couple of days and look for problem spots. Often, just writing things down can help you eat less. Awareness is key to developing new healthier habits.