There's a reason most New Year's resolutions are doomed to failure: Adopting an all-or-nothing attitude just isn't sustainable. Sure, swearing off sugar for life or vowing to run 4 miles a day sounds mighty virtuous. But for most of us, that kind of dedication just isn't realistic. And you know what? That's okay.
Because when it comes to making healthy changes, baby steps are a whole lot better. If you make just one small tweak to your food choices or activity levels each week, you will lose more weight and more inches off your waist compared to those who tried to overhaul their routine.
In fact, you can bring about positive changes in any area of your life using the small-change approach. Whether you're trying to eat better, move more or manage your stress, taking it one tiny tweak at a time is the key to real—and long-lasting—success. Here are 10 simple shifts to try in 2017.
Eat all your meals off of a smaller plate. We woof down a whopping 92% of what we pile onto our plates! Trading your dinner plate for a smaller one is an effortless way to serve yourself a little bit less—and chances are, you'll still feel satisfied.
Take one-minute stretch breaks. Staying limber can help stave off injuries and make it easier to keep doing the activities you love. But you don't have to hit up weekly hour-long yoga classes to reap the benefits, building a few 60-second stretch breaks into your day is just as effective.
Have a real-food snack. When the midday munchies strike, trade the usual cookies or cakes for something minimally-processed, like fruit and nuts or plain yogurt. Whole foods are more nutritious, but that's not all. They can actually boost your calorie burning.
Swap white bread for whole wheat. Or, find other ways to sneak more fiber into your diet—like having oatmeal for breakfast instead of a muffin, or tossing a scoop of beans to your salad. Simply eating more roughage could be enough to help you shed 5 pounds in a year.
Draw out your stress. Next time you're THISCLOSE to losing your mind, try putting pen to paper. Repetitive, creative activities like doodling or coloring are soothing because they encourage you to be in the moment instead of worrying about your problems. If you're not a natural Picasso, don't worry, it’s about doing something aimless—not being perfect
Move for just five more minutes. Trying to kick your exercise routine up a notch? You don't have to dive into training for a marathon. Just start by tacking a little extra time onto your workout. Five more minutes of brisk walking will burn an extra 22 calories. Do it every day for two weeks, and you'll torch 330 more calories, which is equal to an iced donut!
Use a little less sweetener. Ditching sugar altogether can be hard. Find ways to use just a little bit less—like adding one less sugar to your coffee, or cutting the sugar in your favorite recipe by 1/4,. Your taste buds will adjust, and over time, you'll actually come to prefer the less sweet flavour.
Pop a plant on your desk. It's no secret that spending time in nature makes you feel good. But even tiny doses of green can have positive effects: Having your workspace decorated with plants helps you concentrate better and makes you happier on the job.
Sip milk instead of a nightcap. The alcohol in that glass of wine or cocktail disrupts your sleep cycle, leaving you groggy in the morning. But milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which helps you feel sleepy. Have a warm glass with a drizzle of honey—the carbs from the sweet stuff help make tryptophan more available to your brain.
Carry your laundry upstairs in batches. Rather than try to haul everything up in one impossible load, take a few separate trips. Tacking on just three minutes of extra stair-climbing per day burns enough calories to help you shed an extra two pounds per year. Go ahead—step to it!