Health-related resolutions can be among the most challenging to conquer, no matter when you start them.
What begins as “I’m going to get healthy” can quickly end in a watered down intention without real meaning. It happens to the best of us.
After all, “healthy” means something different to us all, especially as we try different things and learn how such a lifestyle fits into our sometimes unpredictable schedules. For one person, "get healthy" goals may be a strict workout routine, while for others it may be making more time for self-care, or a simple-yet-specific goal like getting eight hours of sleep.
“Getting healthy” doesn’t have to be an ambiguous, super high bar to live up to. In fact, baby steps might be the best way to go.
“When you are just starting a pursuit, feeling reassured that it’s actually doable is important, and achieving a sub-goal increases that sense of attainability,” says Szu-chi Huang, an assistant professor of marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business who studies goal-making.
Attaining a little can end up helping you attain a lot. Going bit by bit can also help you assess your progress and realign your priorities along the way.
“What motivates people changes, so the structure of the goal should change accordingly,” Huang says.
We’re big fans of the baby steps method because getting healthy is important, but sometimes daunting! Plus, a little change can make a big difference. Small changes and good habits add up like compound interest; this is how you get big things done.
Below are several ideas for "get healthy" goals that prove a small goal can help you get healthy and stick to a routine that feels manageable.
Move every day: Reaching goals often requires some grace. It’s not all or nothing. It’s often fluid. Maybe yesterday you ran a 12-minute mile and the day before that you binged Netflix on the couch. Life fluctuates and your goals should too!
Making an effort to move every day is one of those fitness goals that moves with you. A brisk walk is movement. A 15-minute yoga video is too. Pushing yourself to the max may likely result in burnout. Being too strict with your goals doesn’t leave much room for re-starting when you slip up. No matter where you are on your fitness journey, a small goal to move everyday can mean the difference between quitting and making progress.
Stretch throughout the day: Feeling a bit hunched over? Working at your desk all day can leave you feeling stiff and it can have lasting impacts on your health. Taking stretch breaks throughout the day, even if they’re short, can make a world of difference. It’s good for your muscles, your mental health and a break from your work can even boost your creativity and productivity. Set a timer and spend five minutes a few times a day away from your chair. Reach for your toes, move your spine all around, wiggle your toes. At the end of the day you’ll leave your work knowing you did a little something for yourself too.
Try something new: Whether it’s a new workout class or sport, resolving to try something new can have a dual impact on your health. First, it challenges you to get out of your comfort zone. Sometimes a little push can make you think about things differently. You may not end up liking yoga or crossfit but found that running group to be your new favorite. Your spirit is better for doing so! Secondly, even our muscles can get caught up in routines. Trying something new can work parts of your body you maybe don’t usually think about. Getting healthy doesn't have to be boring.
Less screen time: Be honest, how much are you spending staring at your phone? If by the end of the week, the average of each day is a little (or a lot) more than you’d like, you may benefit from some separation. Reducing your screen time can improve other healthy habits too (like sleep and stress management). Strive for reducing at least a few minutes each day and physically removing your phone from the room when you’re working. It’ll increase your productivity, too!
Add more time for self-care: Scheduling time for yourself isn’t always easy. Actually, it can be really difficult! Especially during hectic times. It’s worth it though and it’ll improve your mental health. Whether it’s a new journal practice, taking time to call a close friend or pulling out a sheet mask at the end of the day, try implementing little acts of self-care into your life. This worksheet makes it a bit easier.
Add greens to every meal: A well-balanced meal consists of a colorful plate. The more veggies you can add, the better. Your breakfast is no exception. Add a handful of spinach to a smoothie or broccoli and peppers to egg bites. This goal may even force you to get creative and try new recipes. That’s a baby step we can get behind!
Make more meals at home: It’s easy to pick up a burger on the way home or order carry out after a long day working from home, but meals you make yourself actually end up being better for you. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research shows that people who cook more tend to consume fewer calories and have healthier meals. Of course, it’s not always so easy, but a good meal plan can help. Strive for more meals at home by perfecting that grocery list and finding a new joy in cooking.Opt for water: Drinking enough water probably seems like a given, but somehow it’s one of those necessities that's easy to forget even though it plays such an important role in your health (water carries nutrients and oxygen to organs, helps aid digestion, normalizes blood pressure and more!). Starting your day with a glass of water or swapping out that soda at lunch can feel like a little change, but it’ll mean big things for your overall health.