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12 Tiny Changes to Make the Next Year Amazing

by Elise Museles

Title: 12 Tiny Changes to Make the Next Year Amazing

September always feels like the beginning of a new year, doesn’t it? There’s an energy in the air as the kids head back to school and we adults buckle down at work.

Just like that other new year, many of us view September as an opportunity to make big changes. More exercise! Fewer refined carbs! More water! No TV!

And we might just try to implement all of those changes at once, going from one to 60 in two days. Not surprisingly, this rarely works. We burn out, pull a muscle, and unhappily binge eat those lemony coconut bliss balls over the sink.

How many times has this happened? How many times have you broken these promises to yourself? That this time, it’s going to stick. This time, it’s going to be different.

I know because I’ve been there. The only solution that I’ve found is to make teeny, tiny, sometimes even laughably small changes over the course of a long period of time.

Instead of “I’m quitting dairy tomorrow” I said, “I’m going to put almond milk in my coffee every morning for the next month.” Instead of “From now on, I’m drinking eight glasses of water every single day” I said, “I’m going to drink a glass of water before each meal for the next month.”  

By the time a month had passed, I was on my way to developing a healthy new habit. By the time an entire year had passed, I had over a dozen new habits! I slept better, ate cleaner, moved more, and was kinder to myself. I made all of these changes in a sane, sustainable way… and those good habits have stuck around.

So I invite you to take advantage of September’s bustling new energy and join me in the 12 Tiny Changes Challenge. Below, I’ve outlined 12 small and doable changes you could try—one per month, over the course of the next year. (I even created a little cheat sheet for you to see the year at a glance.)

At the beginning of each month, I’ll be revisiting each suggestion, writing about it more in depth and sharing my best resources and tips that will help these changes stick. Be sure to follow along on Instagram and watch for the #12tinychanges hashtag when I post recipes and ideas!

So grab yourself a cup of matcha tea and nestle in. We’ve got a fun year ahead. Are you ready? Let’s go!

September: This month, I’ll devote a few hours to meal prep every week.

Your mom wasn’t kidding when she said that if you fail to plan you’re planning to fail. It’s so much easier to eat healthy all week when your pantry, fridge, and freezer are properly prepared! This month, spend a few hours every Sunday (or Friday or Monday—you choose) prepping some of your meals & snacks, shopping for fresh, in-season produce and chopping, slicing and peeling. You don’t need to do it all at once, but with the new routine settling in after the carefree days of summer, it’s an opportune time to create a little structure with your meal planning. Learn how to set yourself up for success HERE.

Watch out for my next post where I reveal some of my obvious and not so obvious pantry staples.

October: This month, I’ll eat breakfast every single day.

You know it and I know it: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When we eat it, we’re boosting our metabolisms and jumpstarting our days. Many of us believe we’re too busy for anything more than a cup of coffee, but no one’s too busy to make good choices. There are so many easy breakfast options! Gather your ingredients for smoothies ahead of time for a quick morning meal. Prepare a big pot of quinoa porridge or not-so-basic oatmeal and reheat a bowl of it in the morning. Stock up on homemade energy bars or overnight oats for a grab & go option. Really and truly, a balanced breakfast helps you start your day on the right foot.

If you’re already eating breakfast, don’t worry! There will be special challenges for you.

November: This month, I’ll get more sleep.

Many of us are convinced that we have too much on our plate to get all the shut-eye we need or that our packed schedules simply won’t allow for it (especially as the holidays approach). But here’s the thing: when you’re sleep deprived, everything in your life suffers—your work, your relationships, and your health. You’re literally making things harder when you don’t get enough sleep—in fact, much of what you’re doing will have to be redone when you’re more alert!

How do you start to get more sleep? Very slowly and intentionally. Stop drinking caffeine after 2 p.m., make sure you’re moving your body every day, close the screens down at 9 p.m. Head to bed 15 minutes earlier every night and watch the change happen.

I will move my body every day for 30 minutes

December: This month, I will move my body every day for 30 minutes.

During the winter it’s really, really tempting to hunker down on the sofa with a good book … and stay there till May. But we feel so much better when we move our bodies!

Now, notice I didn’t say “commit to 60 minutes of hardcore cardio at a studio filled with gym bunnies.” Developing the habit of movement is almost more important than the type of movement you choose! You can move however you’d like—rake leaves in the backyard, take the dog for a walk around the lake, have a one-person dance party in the kitchen. Remember, people very rarely regret exercising, and it’s something we can all learn to love.

January: This month, I’ll replace some store-bought items with DIY versions.

Instead of massive, complex health goals at the beginning of January, let’s get back to basics this month and bite off exactly as much as we can chew. We’ll spend a little time in the kitchen in DIY mode having a blast making tasty items we might ordinarily buy. (Are you asking yourself why on earth would you complicate your life by hand-making purchasable foods?)

I’m pretty confident that most of us are not creating our pantry staples from scratch. On the surface, it probably seems more convenient to just grab things off the grocery store shelf and plunk down some cash. But stay with me for a minute: Once you try making some of these everyday items on your own, you’ll be amazed by how easy it can be! Why waste precious time and energy running to the store for almond milk when you can soak your nuts while you are sleeping, and then make your own tastier version in five minutes right in your own kitchen? You might think it will be boring, time-consuming, or expensive to DIY. I promise you, it’s not! It’s actually fun and significantly cheaper than buying everything pre-made.

February: This month, I’ll eat more plants.

Going completely meat and dairy-free isn’t for everyone, but eating more plant-based meals is healthy, cheap, and surprisingly easy. Really! I successfully feed a house full of tall, brawny, active guys my veggie burgers , vegetarian chili, and almond milk every week. Give yourself permission to view this as an experiment; pick out four plant-based recipes you’ve never tried and give them a go this month. You might just develop a new (tasty) habit!

March: This month, I’ll notice the subconscious thoughts I have about food.

How often have you said to yourself “Oh, I can’t eat that – it’s BAD” or “I’m overwhelmed; pizza will help” or “I earned these slices of cake”? We all have a Food Story—memories, emotions, and values tied up in how we think about food and eating. Sometimes those are good memories (Grandma’s warming noodle soup on a crisp fall day) and sometimes those are bad memories (someone making a comment about our weight when we took a second serving of guacamole).

Luckily for us, we can change our Food Story, but we can’t do that until we uncover some themes. This month, we can start by noticing the stories we tell ourselves about food. It’s the first step to unraveling your Food Story!

ColorfulKale-blog

April: This month, I’ll add more color to my plate at every meal.

Have you ever sat down to a beige plate? Soggy noodles in a white sauce, Ceasar salad without any additional veggies, or chicken with mashed potatoes? Rather than worrying about serving size or exactly which type of fruit or vegetable you should put on your plate, make it your goal to simply add more color.

Add a few spears of roasted asparagus or green beans with garlic and almonds. Top your chia seed pudding with bright berries or juicy peaches. Before you dig into your meals this month, look at what you’re serving and consider how you can make it colorful. The farmer’s markets are bustling with every hue of the rainbow this time of year.

May: This month, I’ll sit down to eat.

In a perfect world, I’d love for all of us to eat every meal at a table—but we’re starting small, right? Rather than drinking your breakfast smoothie in the car, take the extra five minutes to pour it into a bowl, top it with a few berries and enjoy it on the patio. Resist the urge to eat dinner in front of the television. Set the table with placemats and napkins and sit down with your family or friends. It makes meals feel more special, and it helps your mind and body register that you’ve eaten!

June: This month, I’ll ease into summer and slow down.

When was the last time you did … nothing? Can you remember window shopping without an agenda? Or taking the dog for a walk just because the weather was nice? Or really, actually stopping to smell the [gorgeous, blooming-right-now] roses? Doing nothing can be surprisingly difficult! So many of us hide in our busy. We love crossing things off our to-do lists, and getting as much done in a day as possible. We feel accomplished and clever when we manage to eat our lunch bowl while replying to emails. The reality is that we’ve found ways to multitask just about every moment of every day.

But being constantly scheduled, plugged in, and “on” isn’t healthy or sustainable. It’s not good for our bodies, our minds, or our relationships. And while this change isn’t going to be easy, the rewards are worth the challenging effort!

 

This month, I’ll drink more water.

July: This month, I’ll drink more water.

Did you know that by the time you feel thirsty you’re already dehydrated? We are all aware that we should be drinking more water, but it’s a habit that’s so, so easy to forget. You can make it even easier to drink more by pouring yourself a cup before each meal, keeping a glass water bottle on your desk, and putting flavorful spa waters in individual Mason jars to grab as you head out the door.

The difference between being even slightly dehydrated and fully hydrated is major and affects everything from performance to alertness to metabolic function!

August: This month, I’ll get serious about {healthy} snacks.

I don’t know about you, but I turn into a pumpkin when I have low blood sugar. Thankfully, it’s totally avoidable! With back to school and back to work about to start all over again, it’s time for a new routine. I make sure that my fridge, pantry, handbag and even glove compartment are stocked with healthy little tidbits that will keep me from getting too hungry. I prepare superfood trail mix and roasted chickpeas every Sunday and tuck them away for those moments when the meeting runs long or my spin class leaves me famished. I stock my freezer with hydrating popsicles and satiating cookie dough balls.

This month, choose a handful of new snack recipes and prepare them ahead of time. If that’s too hard, just take along a few individual portion sizes of almonds or sunflower seeds and a piece of fresh fruit in your bag!

Don’t those changes seem small and sustainable? Imagine how they’ll add up over the course of a year!

If you’re interested in joining in on the {no cost} fun, look out for the first blog post each month and subscribe to my email list. Make sure to follow along on Instagram where I’ll be posting prompts & inspiration starting with September’s tiny change: devote a few hours to meal prep each week.

I can’t wait to guide you to make 12 tiny changes that will have a big impact on your overall health & happiness!

Now it’s your turn: Have you ever made huge shifts by starting with one small habit at a time? What else would you add to your year of 12 tiny changes for your health? Share your comments & insights below.

P.S. There are going to be some awesome prizes too! Follow along on Instagram to learn more. And, remember to get some ideas for September’s meal prep challenge HERE.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 12 Tiny Changes to Make The Next Year Amazing | One Healthy Hamptons - September 11, 2015

    […] I invite you to take advantage of September’s bustling new energy and join me in the 12 Tiny Changes Challenge, by committing to 12 small and doable changes to try—one per month, over the course of the next […]

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