Our recycle bins have been stuffed with wrapping paper and those hideous, inflatable, life-sized Santas are finally starting to drop like flies. This means we can now fully focus on New Year’s party planning and resolution writing! After one too many sticky buns and skipped workouts this holiday season, we’re motivated to make 2014 the healthiest year yet. While those intentions to lose weight and exercise more may be good, lofty resolutions are usually swept under the rug and forgotten within weeks of the start of the New Year.
One thing to keep in mind when choosing a New Year’s resolution: less is more. To help us avoid being overly ambitious, I put together 50 bite-sized resolutions for better health. Choose one, two, or combine a few. The key is only committing to ones you think you can stick with. Just write yourself daily, weekly or monthly reminders until they become second nature–and then come back for one or two more!
1. Swap out your large dinner plates for smaller salad plates. This simple but effective way to trick yourself into eating a little bit less will add up to a lot less excess calories throughout the year.
2. Make fast food restaurants within 50 miles of your home off-limits. This is a personal favorite I swear by.
3. Spend 15 minutes each week writing a healthful shopping list before heading to the grocery store. You can even jot it down on your phone in the parking lot. Whatever you do, don’t walk in there hungry.
4. Roast vegetables you normally boil, steam or saute. You may just like them better! Brussels sprouts are one of my favorites.
5. Give up shopping the packaged snack aisle at the grocery store. And see #12.
6. Skip that nightly glass of wine during the work week. And see #45.
7. Plan out your meals every Sunday for the whole week. And follow it up with #3.
8. Eat meatless one day per week. Meatless Mondays are actually quite trendy and you never know, one meatless day may lead to two, or three and eating less meat means more room for veggies!
9. Make a double batch of dinner whenever you cook and freeze it into individual servings. That way you have a healthy meal for nights you’re too tired to deal with prepping a meal.
10. Keep a tally of your fiber intake 3 days per week and aim to hit at least 25 grams per day.
11. Cap those fancy, high-calorie coffee drinks at 2 per week. And see #45.
12. Instead of buying, bake sweet treats like cookies, cakes and pies. You’ll likely eat a lot less dessert if you have to make them from scratch.
14. Take a cooking or knife-skills class. Becoming a better, faster and safer cook is more incentive to make your meals at home.
15. Schedule a healthy potluck once a season. Have your friends to bring their favorite, healthy-but-you-wouldn’t-know-it dishes and swap recipes.
16. Make an standing exercise date with a friend 1 day per week. And don’t be that workout buddy that backs out.
17. Plan your workouts in advance in one or two-week increments. And be sure to work in variety so you don’t get bored.
18. Auto-schedule 1 additional active outing or workout for every social event on your calendar.
19. For every hour you at your desk, set a timer and do 30 seconds to 1 minute of body weight exercises. Here are 8 to get you through the work day: push-ups, squats, burpees, lunges, jumping jacks, tricep dips, plank, mountain climbers.
20. Set up a small, inexpensive, home gym. Grab a mat, some light dumbbells, a jump rope and try one new, at-home workout per week. I’ll be posting some fun ones here, hopefully once a week for 2014.
21. Adopt a stair-only policy. Pretend elevators and escalators don’t exist if you have 6 flights or less to go and you’re not hauling a heavy bag.
22. Treat yourself to a personal training session or private lesson/class once a month. It’ll help you stay motivated and learn some new exercises!
23. Bike or walk to work, or to run an errand once per week.
25. Set up a stand-up desk in your office and use it at least one hour per day. Encourage your co-workers to use it too!
26. Learn how to accept a compliment. Here’s a great article to help. And see #30.
27. Choose 1 day per week to catch up with a friend or family member, whether by phone or an in-person coffee date.
28. Read a book, magazine or write in your journal instead of using phones, tablets or watching television before bed.
29. Set aside a certain amount of cash each week for a solo getaway weekend. Okay, or a girls-only weekend.
30. Pay someone a compliment at least once per day. Pick a stranger out of a crowd or say something nice to a co-worker, or better yet, your boss.
32. Turn your alarm clock around and don’t look at it once the lights are off. Doing so only promotes anxiety about how long you’ve been awake or how little time you have left to sleep. Trust that your alarm will wake you when it’s time.
33. Find an organization that is special to you and volunteer a certain number of hours there each month.
34. Share your expertise (not necessarily professional or work-related) with one person per month. Teach a neighbor how to cook a new dish, help a friend organize their pantry… Write 12 down this week and you’ll be set up to spread knowledge for the rest of the year.
35. Unplug from all things digital one day per week. Spend your free time with family, friends or doing something special for yourself.
36. Add a new & different blog to your Feedly each month. Instead of your usual healthy living, check out a finance, social media or home design themed blogs to mix things up and learn new things. See #44.
37. Write down one thing you love about yourself in a journal each day. You’ll have a nice list of 365 lovable things about yourself at the end of the year.
38. Stop mindless surfing. When you catch yourself mindlessly cruising the web, power down your laptop, phone or tablet.
39. Get organized. Go through 1 closet or bookcase per week and donate unwanted items and poorly fitting clothes to those in need. When those have been organized, section off the garage, basement, attic and tackle those next.
40. Enjoy what you love every day. Stop saving your china, silverware and favorite perfume/cologne for special occasions.
41. Learn a new skill. Study a new language, take a workshop in sewing, crafting, woodworking, sign up for a cooking lesson… the possibilities are endless.
42. Plant a garden—preferably one that’s edible.
43. Back up your phone and computer on an external hard drive on the 1st of every month.
45. Keep a standing tally of the money you save every time you avoid a Starbucks run–or other indulgent money pit–and put those dollars into a special “you-time” fund for a treat once a month. See #29.
46. Purchase a pretty new water bottle–and don’t let it out of your sight. Set a timer to remind you to refill it every couple of hours.
47. Only purchase clothing that fits, flatters and makes you feel good—no matter how heavily discounted it may be.
49. Open a retirement account and budget to save the maximum amount allowed by the end of the year.
50. Swap one chemical-filled household cleanser for safer, more eco-friendly, vinegar.
Bite-sized Resolutions: Got any others up your sleeve?
Inflatable life-size Santas on the lawn: Yay or nay? Personally, I find them somewhat terrifying. And weird. :)