We all get tempted this time of year to create big, lofty goals for our New Year’s resolutions, and this year we may be thinking even loftier. But can they last?
Research suggests that for about 80 percent of us, the answer is no. When the second week of February rolls around, that’s how many people have already failed at their yearly goal for self improvement.
If big, sweeping resolutions have been recipes for disaster for you, maybe it’s time to try a different approach.
Try smaller changes over time
According to the American Psychological Association, small changes, one at a time, are the way to go.
Instead of one drastic change you struggle with all year, try taking on a new healthy habit each month. We’ve got some ideas for you here, or you can choose your own to build healthy habits one step at a time.
January: Track your food, activity
Start your journey to a healthy lifestyle by keeping track of what you eat, how much you sleep, how much water you drink and how much you exercise.
Tracking is key to holding yourself accountable to meeting your goals. Once you make it a habit, it will be easier to adopt other small changes later in the year.
This can be a small notebook, a one-page habit tracker you print out each week, a smartphone app you add your information to, a wearable health tracker that records much of the data for you, or a combination of these.
The app also serves as a digital coach. As you start tracking your diet and activity, it will deliver personalized feedback and advice on areas for improvement moving forward.
February: Measure all your food
We’re all prone to “portion distortion,” not being aware of just how many servings of food we’re actually eating. This month, measure absolutely everything to become aware of your own areas of portion distortion.
March: Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables
Very few of us get as many fruits and vegetables as we should in our diet. The World Health Organization recommends we get at least five servings each day.
Low in calories and fat and high in fiber, nutrients and phytonutrients, aim to fill half your plate at each meal with colorful fruits and vegetables.
April: Increase your water intake
Now that you’ve been tracking your water, you might be realizing that you’re not drinking enough of it.
Every day, the average person should drink between 72 and 96 oz. of water – or between nine and twelve 8-oz. glasses – to replace the fluids normally lost throughout the day.
Falling behind? Try filling up all the water bottles you need to reach your goal at the start of the day, to make it easy to track your progress.
May: Move more
Moving our bodies is important for mental and physical strength, so pick one way you’ll move more in your day. Even adding a 10-minute walk during your lunch break or after dinner can be a great place to start in increasing your steps.
Already doing that? Consider adding a new sport, activity or exercise to your routine. Even running around the playground with your kids or making more trips to the beach to swim out to the buoy and back can increase your exercise levels—and your fun!
June: Practice self-care
Every healthy habit you have can be considered self-care, but it’s important to dedicate some down time for yourself.
It may not seem like a lot, but you can do a lot for yourself in 15 minutes. Here are four ways to carve out a small window of time for yourself.
July: Reduce added sugars
The abundance of summer’s fresh fruits makes it the perfect time to reduce the amount of added sugars in your diet.
Stock up on seasonal fruits at your local markets or pick your own at area farms so you can reach for them whenever you would normally reach for candy from the vending machine or dessert after a meal.
Cutting out nighttime snacks has health benefits well beyond your waistline—including digestion, blood sugar levels and heart health.
Finding it hard to give up your nightly routine? Try brushing your teeth soon after dinner to help your resolve.
September: Prioritize sleep
As the sun begins to set a little earlier, try following its lead and get yourself to bed earlier, as well. Going to bed just 30 minutes earlier can be enough to reap the overall health benefits of getting your beauty rest.
Need some help falling asleep? Read 7 Tips for getting a better night’s sleep for some suggestions.
October: Explore new recipes
Make this the month you try out new, healthy foods and flavors. There are plenty of simple ways to cook healthy, delicious foods
You can start by checking out our recipes on Amway Connections, including those that use BodyKey products to help with your weight management goals.
November: Take your vitamins
With all the ways we work to improve our healthy habits, it can still be hard to get everything we need for optimal health.
A well-rounded, high-quality vitamin and mineral supplement can help fill any nutrient gaps. Find it hard to remember to take it every day? We can help: 6 Tips for remembering to take your vitamins.
December: Create new holiday traditions
To avoid the weight gain and sluggishness that can come with the excesses of holiday festivities that seem to center around food, get creative and identify some new traditions.
Hike out on a tree farm to cut down your own tree, go ice skating or sledding, plan a wreath decorating party or create handmade gifts together.
There are plenty of memories to be made without food laden with fat, sugars and calories.
It all adds up
These are just a few ways you can integrate new healthy habits into your life. And adding them one month at a time will help you reach success where a grandiose resolution may fall flat.
Take the first step, and then the next one, and before you know it, you’ll be living the new, healthy life you want for yourself.