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Small Changes, Big Impact

We’re delighted to share this guest post from registered dietitian and health coach Jess Cording. Jessica focuses on helping people streamline their wellness routine so that they can enjoy a balanced relationship with food and exercise, and today, she’s sharing the small changes that she encourages clients to make when they want to see a big impact on their health for our New Year New Rear Week

Photo courtesy Jess Cording

The New Year is upon us, and so are all the health-related resolutions about losing weight, exercising more often and eating better. But how many of us have set lofty health and fitness goals only to fall back into the same patterns by February 1? I’ve included some tips below on how to set manageable resolutions that will last you into 2019 and beyond.

Start small.

We all like to discuss our New Year’s resolutions with family and friends, so I understand that stating “I’m going to go to the gym twice a week,” may not feel like the dramatic, life-changing goal that you “should” be setting. However, if you’re someone that hasn’t seen the inside of a gym in years, it’s unlikely that you’re suddenly going to start going seven days per week.

By starting with a manageable goal that fits into your current lifestyle, you’ll be able to keep the momentum up throughout the year. I find that people who set unrealistic goals get discouraged quickly and fall back on old habits like binge-watching Netflix instead of getting in a quick workout after the work day. So do yourself a favor and start small — you’ll reap big rewards. (And once the habit is there, you can always add another sweat session!)

If you have a healthy eating goal, make your food choices as convenient as possible.

Healthy eating doesn’t have to entail hours of prepping, chopping, sautéing and baking! There are tons of ways to improve your diet that take very little time. One of the best solutions I’ve found is to buy pre-sliced frozen fruit (I’m a huge fan of Dole Sliced Strawberries) instead of fresh fruit. Since it’s frozen at peak freshness, you get all the same nutrients — and it lasts for much longer (so you’re not tossing moldy strawberries from your fridge after a week).

Island Smoothie Bowl. Photo courtesy Jess Cording

Another solution is to focus on healthy snack options that you can grab from the fridge or pantry and prepare in a few minutes. Greek yogurt, almond butter toast topped with frozen mixed berries, and celery and hummus are examples of easy and healthy snacks. I also really enjoy simple smoothie bowls like my Island Smoothie Bowl that incorporate numerous types of fruit.

When it comes to weeknight cooking, I recommend one-pan meals packed with protein and veggies — like my Stress-Busting Sheet Pan Dinner. All the nutrients you need in one pan — what’s more convenient than that?

If you have a fitness goal, pick an exercise that provides you with a sense of excitement.

If you’re someone who generally dislikes the gym, don’t tell yourself you’ll run on the treadmill five days a week. Instead, find an exercise plan that actually excites you.

There are so many ways to exercise — your passion could be anything from yoga or group cycling to something off the beaten path like aerial fitness or rock-climbing. Finding your exercise passion may take a bit of trial-and-error, but thankfully apps like ClassPass are made for individuals interested in expanding their exercise horizons. Once you find your fitness passion, I can almost guarantee you’ll be exceeding your original fitness resolutions!

Be kind to yourself.

Besides making unrealistic resolutions, the biggest mistake I see people make when setting New Year’s resolutions is beating themselves up when they can’t achieve their goals. Setting a resolution means taking a step outside of your comfort zone — and sometimes it just doesn’t work out. When this happens, I recommend revisiting the resolution, figuring out why it didn’t work and tweaking it to make it something that is both achievable and enjoyable.

For example, if you work a job with unpredictable hours, the goal of cooking dinner five nights a week may end up not working out. An alternative goal could be cooking a larger dinner twice a week so you can eat leftovers the other three days. Or you could choose healthier options when ordering delivery or takeout. By revamping your goals, you’ll reach the end of the year feeling accomplished — and ready to take on your next resolution for 2020!

Which of these suggestions will be the easiest for you to implement this year? How about the most challenging? —Jess Cording

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!

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2 Comments
  1. Thanks for the great advice, Jess. I’ve given up New Year’s resolutions in favor of seasonal bucket lists. My winter health and fitness goals are to sign up for a 10K or half-marathon, four weeks of clean-ish eating, and yoga once a week. Signing up for the race brings me a sense of excitement. Cutting back on the sweets to one small portion a day will be the most difficult. Happy 2019 to you!

  2. Parker says:

    These small changes are really impactful. Thanks for sharing your great insights here.