Why Thinking Small is the Key to Real Change This Year

Ditch the grand resolution. Make microresolutions instead.

Why Thinking Small is the Key to Real Change This Year

If you set ambitious goals every January only to come crashing back to earth (and old habits) by March, you’re not alone. What’s a well-meaning, starry-eyed, “I can change!” kinda person to do?

Enter the microresolution: an itty bitty behavioral change that you can tack onto your existing habits.

Here are eight microresolutions to get you started. They’re not super impressive. They won’t get you ripped in 30 days. But they are doable—and you’ll be surprised by how easily they become part of your routine.

Microresolution #1: Add protein to every meal. Many of us eat carb-rich breakfasts and protein-heavy dinners, but we should add protein to every meal. Studies have found that spreading out our protein intake may enhance weight loss and improve muscle health.

Microresolution #2: Wear sunscreen every day. Most of the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays penetrate cloudy winter conditions. In fact, snow reflects up to 80 percent of UV radiation, making it worse than sun glare off beach sand or water. Wear sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 30.

Microresolution #3: Butt out butter. Avocado, applesauce and Greek yogurt can be substituted for butter in many of your go-to recipes if you’re concerned about reducing calories.

Microresolution #4: Clean up cocktails. Mixing an after-work drink? Beware the liquid calories in your favorite cocktail. Make these healthier swaps: try sugar-free club soda as the mixer, and use fresh fruit instead of artificially flavored mixes.

Microresolution #5: Have a cuppa. If you like to have a steaming mug at your desk, go with tea. The amino acid L-theanine, found in teas (especially green tea), may increase brain activity and cognitive function when we are trying to pay attention to important tasks at work.

Microresolution #6: Walk away from a cold or flu. You already walk to and from your car, and maybe even further if you transit to work. Stretch that walk out a little more. Just 20 minutes of walking a day strengthens the immune system. Researchers aren’t sure exactly why this is the case, but suspect that exercise flushes bacteria out of our lungs and raises our body temperature to prevent bacteria from growing into a serious infection.

Microresolution #7: Freshen the air. In the winter, our home or office air is up to 85 percent recirculated, causing a buildup of pollutants. Invest in an air filter or try Mother Nature’s filters: aloe and spider plants are just a couple of houseplants that filter out indoor pollutants. (You were going to revamp your desk decor anyway, right?)

Microresolution #8: Use the three-bite rule. You don’t have to totally suppress your sweet tooth. Just make those moments of indulgence a little healthier. The first nibble of a treat sparks the taste buds, but every bite after that has diminishing returns of pleasure. Try the three-bite rule. This satisfies cravings and lets you indulge without going overboard.