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Skip the Resolutions for 2021 and Start with Little Habits

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I am not a big fan of resolutions as they tend to be large, lofty, and less specific goals for the coming year. Like losing 20 pounds, or being healthier, or improving fitness levels – these are all admirable goals, but they provide no guidance on how to get to that trim, healthier, fitter person. I recommend instead, a focus on little habits to make behavior change more manageable. One of the most useful tools that I offer my clients is support with forming and committing to little habits.

Brushing your teeth, for example, is a little habit that we start out with in our baby years. When I ask a client if she brushes her teeth twice a day and does it seem like a lot of work, the answer is yes to the brushing and no to the perception of hard work. This little habit is created with the support of a parent or other adult guardian and then continued independently twice a day every day (most of the time) with ease for most people.

I encourage my clients to lend this little habit idea to nutrition with a single, simple goal to create positive behavior change. For instance, if you would like to eat more vegetables (and you don’t eat any yet), start out with one piece of a vegetable at one meal every day. Even if you do not feel like eating said veggie, just put it on your plate, and sometimes you will eat it and sometimes you won’t, but if it is not there you certainly won’t be eating it. Keep this up for three weeks and you will likely find the perception of hard work associated with eating veggies to ease. 

Another example may be that you want to move more in your day and you’re currently pretty sedentary. Start with a 5 min walk around your home (inside or outside) at about the same time each day. Maybe it’s easier to do this first thing in your day or at the end of the day. A key aspect of creating the little habit is a cue, like the veggie in the above example. So leave your comfy sneakers in a visible area to prompt the 5 min walk. Put these comfy walking shoes on, and again, perhaps sometimes you will walk and sometimes you won’t, but I expect that the walk will occur more times than not. Once the 5 min walk feels easy, challenge yourself with a longer period of time. 

Content submitted by Jessica Roy MS RD LDN