Baby Steps to Big Changes

Have you wondered how some people seem to accomplish so much before 9am? They’ve run 5 miles, made a healthy breakfast, showered, and got to work – alert, engaged and put together. It’s impressive. But it’s also possible. The secret is breaking these events down to small habits that (eventually) add up to one big successful day… and then another. Right now many of us have gained time back in our days that was previously dedicated to commuting to work and back. This is all the more reason to start with baby steps for successful, healthy changes. Here’s how:

Let’s say you have no problem waking up early and eating a nutritious breakfast, but you can’t manage to fit in an early-morning workout. Don’t try to start by running 5 miles one morning! Not only do you risk getting hurt, but you will feel down on yourself if you don’t succeed. You need your goals to be successful in order to get the dopamine rush that comes with completing them. You can avoid that feeling of failure by starting out small and working your way up.

So tomorrow, instead of telling yourself, “I’m going to go for a 5-mile run” say, “I’m going to walk around the block before I make coffee.” And then do it. On the next day, say, “Tomorrow I’m going to walk around the block and do 15 jumping jacks before I make lunch.” And then do it. Keep building on these each day. Attaching a new habit to an old one helps to make it stick in the long run! 

You can use this ‘baby step’ tip to make healthy eating choices as well. Tell yourself you’ll try one new vegetable at Sunday supper. Better yet – have the whole family try it with you, and talk about what you like (or don’t like, that’s okay too.) Eliminating food vices like sugar can be very hard, but you can start by setting a goal like, “I’ll put one less sugar in my coffee tomorrow” – then try reducing that more over time.

Baby steps are the key!

Instead of creating restrictive rules (think of the premise of diets, for example), you will feel motivated to complete a task. That task is your goal and guess what? You did it! Your brain loves to feel successful, so you’re likely to continue to pursue these daily wins. Overtime, baby steps = big changes!

Here’s a list of healthy activities you can try to add to your routine – one at a time, of course. Maybe your friend or family member will pick one to do with you – and you can hold each other accountable. What do you say? Up for a (baby) challenge?

  • Set your alarm 5 minutes earlier to give yourself time for a quick morning activity.
  • Do 15 jumping jacks or push-ups (or 15 more if these are part of your routine already).
  • Sit in silence – with no screens – for 2 minutes. Congrats – you just meditated.
  • Read 5 pages of a book.
  • Eat dinner at the dinner table, no screens allowed.
  • Drink an extra glass of water than your normal daily intake.

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