Reach Your Health Goal!

Make just one small change to start living healthier

If you’re trying to eat better, get fit, or lose weight, you may think you need to overhaul your habits to reach your goal. But focusing on one healthy change at a time may be a better strategy.

“My motto is small steps to big success,” says Kimberly Garrison, a health and wellness coach in Philadelphia. “We get the most benefit from the small changes we make over time.” Start by trying these simple changes.

Goal: Eat better
Healthy eating is important for everyone. If you want to lose weight, it’s even more critical. But trying to improve your diet from less-than-ideal to perfect overnight can backfire and even lead to bingeing.

Try: Eating more of the good stuff
Bulk up your diet with fruits and vegetables. You’ll help yourself stay full, which will curb your appetite for less-healthy foods. If you typically eat two donuts for breakfast, swap one for an apple. At lunch, choose baby carrots instead of chips to go along with your sandwich. At dinner, enjoy a veggie salad with vinaigrette dressing before your main dish.

Goal: Exercise more
Sticking to a regular exercise schedule can be tough. Real life, whether it’s last minute errands or a work emergency, often gets in the way.

Try: Making fitness part of your day
When you have an appointment you need to keep, what do you do? Put it on your calendar, of course. Take the same approach with exercise, and schedule your workouts. “Plan to do it early in the day if you can,” Garrison says. “As the day goes on, things often come up.”

Goal: Lose weight
Skip the crash diet, and aim to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week for long-term weight loss success.

Try: Cutting back on liquid calories
You could lose 10 pounds in a year just by scaling back 100 calories a day. A good place to start: your drinks. Is your coffee loaded with cream and sugar? That’s an easy 100 calories. Do you drink soda, bottled tea, or alcohol regularly? For each, that’s another 100 calories or more. Sip water or unsweetened beverages as much as you can.

Goal: Increase energy
“Everyone gets that lull in the middle of the afternoon, and your instinct is to reach for a cookie or quick treat,” Garrison says. “But what you really need is energy.”

Try: Getting up and moving around
For a burst of energy, increasing blood and oxygen flow in your body is key. If you’re at work, take a 10-minute walk to check in with people. Movement and conversation will perk you up. If you’re at home, do 25 jumping jacks for a jolt.

Goal: Lower stress
“Burning both ends of the candle with work and play never works,” Garrison says. “Something is going to give, and it’s going to be your health.”

Try: Pausing to breathe mindfully
Deep breathing does wonders for stress, Garrison says. It improves oxygen flow and decreases stress hormones. Every day, sit back, close your eyes, and focus on just breathing for 1 minute.

Stay on Track
Whatever your goal, don’t worry about perfection. Think of every day as a new chance to make smart choices for a healthier, happier you.