As a culture we tend to think that the best way to get healthier is to implement big changes, particularly in the new year. If you have tried that you might already know it’s hard. This is one of the most significant reasons why resolutions made at this time of year are unreachable for most.
For example, a plan for long hours at the gym and highly restricted eating which lead to feelings of deprivation are not the only way to create success when it comes to weight management.
One of the reasons small changes can make a big difference is because they feel less overwhelming. An overwhelmed mind tends to not act so people may never get started. But modest changes are easier to start, achieve and maintain. Also, small changes done consistently over the long haul can lead to better habits and more self-confidence. The point is that successful change is more achievable and easier if you eat the elephant one bite at a time. No pun intended.
5 Small Changes to Create Big Health Results for 2022
Pick just one of these to practice over the next 2 to 3 weeks. Once you feel like you are getting in a groove, move on to the next one. If you feel overwhelmed, start with tip #5. By the first day of spring, you will be feeling fabulous about yourself.
1. Pay more attention to your eating habits. Many of us are distracted when we eat or are just in the habit of not paying attention. As a result, about 99% of our eating is mindless rather than mindful which leads to overeating. Just work on becoming the observer. Be curious and see what happens. Keeping a food journal will help you to be more conscious and to get clear about the changes that will make the biggest impact for you. The good news is that you don’t need to, and shouldn’t, change everything.
2. Eat until you are satisfied. This requires learning to listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Most of us can easily describe in detail what if feels like to be over-full but are not clear what satisfied means. How do you imagine comfortable satiety? Some common descriptions are a subtle feeling of stomach fullness, feeling satisfied and content or just feeling neither hungry nor full.
Try to observe the things that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes and what your current hunger level is. It might be helpful to aim for feeling 80% full which is the difference between feeling satisfied and needing to unbutton your pants.
3. Sit less and move more. A little bit every day can make a difference. Notice I didn’t say go to the gym or start running. You don’t need to push yourself beyond your limits. Be gentle with yourself. The more you move your body the better. Self-love, right? Keep this simple by using the 5 min rule. Just start with the commitment to yourself that if you want to stop in 5 minutes you can.
4. Stay well hydrated. I wrote about this last month, but it is worth saying again. Even mild dehydration makes us feel sluggish, headachy and it doesn’t help with brain function. Also, we often mistake thirst for hunger. The goal is to drink about eight 8-ounce servings of water a day and perhaps a bit more if you are a larger person. Small steps will get you to the optimal intake. Start with getting a handle on how many ounces you are consuming right now. That is your baseline. So, if you are drinking about 16 ounces per day, set a goal to double that over the next two weeks. Just add 1 to 2 ounces per day and you will meet your goal. The best tool is a colorful water bottle that will help you monitor how you are doing. You can find some great tips for increasing water intake on this blog post: Conquer Cravings by Hydrating
5. Implement daily self-care strategies. It is impossible to know how stressed we have all been over the last 2 years. Even if we don’t feel it, we have all experienced some level of strain during the pandemic that seems to not be going away. Self-care is not selfish but vital to our mental health, stress management and well-being. Think about what makes you feel less stressed and start practicing it every day. Some great ideas include finding or practicing a hobby, walks in nature, meditation, cooking healthy meals (if you love it!), reading, taking a relaxing bath, giving yourself a facial, or listening to music. Make sure it is something you love.
You can start 2022 off on the right foot by going slow, paying attention to what you really need and making some space in your life for small changes. If you are consistent with them by next holiday season you will have created big results for your health.