As the year comes to a close, we start to look hopefully towards new beginnings, a fresh start, the chance to do it differently this time around.
But while new year’s resolutions like “lose weight”, “eat right”, “get in shape”, “stress less” and “sleep more” all do the trick of pumping you up with enthusiasm when you make them in December, they tend to fizzle out and completely evaporate once reality sets in by February.
That’s because they were wrong when they said “old habits die hard”. Anyone with an eleven p.m. Dorito’s addiction can tell it to you more honestly, the way it really it: old habits never die at all, no matter how many lofty goals, promises and next time’s you try to stab them with.
Old unhealthy habits can only be replaced, day by day, with new actions that you repeat enough times, over and over and over again, until you’ve managed to create a new “old” habit – but this time, one that actually gets you closer to your goals, rather than further away.
The resolutions that successfully turn into realities are the ones that go beyond broad, vague affirmations. They’re the ones that keep it simple, focusing on small, specific, attainable actions that you do every day. While a huge goal like “get in shape this year” often leads to blank-stare overwhelm and a package of Twinkies to help you forget all about it, a goal like “go for a 10 minute walk at lunch time today” feels much more solid, achievable, and leads to a fantastic feeling of accomplishment and confidence when you follow through.
And ten minutes every day really starts to add up…until, by next December, you’ve actually managed to reach that big ambitious goal that scared you so much twelve months before.
Here are 10 healthy New Year resolutions that you can feel good about achieving in 10 minutes every day.
Also, check out this 8 Step Guide to Achieving the New Year’s Resolutions You’ve Always Fantasized About
1. Make a list.
Before you go to bed, make a list with two columns. In the left-hand column, jot down 5 things you are proud of yourself for today. These can include things like “I included one fruit and one veggie in my breakfast this morning”, or “breathed deeply & stayed calm when cut off in traffic coming home from work today”, or “ate an apple instead of a candy bar when I got hungry this afternoon”, or “walked on the treadmill for 10 minutes after the kids went to bed”.
Then, in the right-hand column, write down 5 things you commit to do tomorrow. Examples include: “set alarm 10 minutes earlier to jog on the spot for 10 minutes beside my bed,” or “blend up a healthy smoothie for breakfast before work” or “call my mom today,” or “cook home-made bean & vegetable soup for dinner”.
2. Before you sit – squat.
Every time you go to the bathroom today: before you sit down on the toilet and get comfy, perform 10 squats over the toilet seat first (who really feels one-hundred-percent comfy sitting all the way down on a public toilet seat anyway?). Place your legs hip-width apart, sit back and make like you’re going to sit down on the toilet, but before your butt hits the seat, squeeze your butt muscles and stand back up. Do this ten times, than sit all the way down (if you dare), relax and enjoy a happy tinkle.
Choose any activity that you feel comfortable doing continuously at a high pace – speed walk, jog around your block, bike, skip rope, run on the spot, squat, jump jacks, swim, run up and down your stairs, etc. – and do it for at least ten minutes today. Choose a time of day when you can unplug from everything else (first thing in the morning when you wake up, or during your lunch break, or right before bed, etc.). Ten minutes is just a blink out of your day, but could be enough to work up a good sweat and kill some major calories.
Work your way up to doing this 10 Minute Fat-Blasting Total-Body Workout 5 to 6 times a week.
4. Add 2 extra types of veggie to each meal.
When meal planning or ordering food, make sure each meal of the day includes at least two – and even better, three or more – types of veggies, of various colors. The goal is that the veggies should fill at least half of your meal plate, and the more variety of colors you incorporate, the better.
5. Slow down: take no LESS than 10 minutes to eat.
After reviewing the research findings from 23 different studies, Japanese scientists concluded that self-reported fast eaters were more than twice as likely to be obese than those who reported eating more slowly. Taking more time to focus on your food, to taste it and thoroughly chew it through before swallowing helps to trigger sensor, enzymes and hormones in your body that send satiety signals to your brain, while also helping that food digest better.
Eating in a mindful way without distractions, chewing your food thoroughly before swallowing and allowing yourself to have a dedicated eating time rather than multi-tasking during fly-by meals all help you digest your food more completely, to lose weight more successfully and to have a healthier relationship with food.
6. Wait no LESS than 10 minutes before eating dessert.
Brain scans have shown that it takes several minutes for the brain to receive the chemical signals from the digestive system that let it know when you’ve eaten enough and should stop. This is especially true after you’ve eaten a high carb meal, which can keep setting off false hunger signals in the body.
So before you go back for a second helping or before you reach for dessert, stop eating and wait at least 10 to 20 minutes. Use that time to leave the table and occupy yourself with other non-eating related activities. More often than not, after those minutes are up, you’ll find that you’re just not that hungry anymore, making it far easier to stop eating after a sensibly portioned meal and to avoid overeating and weight gain.
7. Plan something fun and active to do with friends.
When planning to go out with friends or with a special someone, skip over the same old bars, movie theaters and restaurants. At least once a week, multi-task a social activity with an opportunity to do some exercise. Take 10 minutes to Google nearby venues, local events and available activities that combine having fun with breaking a sweat, like going out dancing, going for a midnight hike, indoor rock climbing, a power yoga class, paint ball, group volley ball, laser tag, broomball, etc.
8. Be alone for 10 minutes.
Escape, and spend time with just yourself, every day, for at least ten minutes, even if this involves locking yourself in the bathroom or taking a longer route home from work. No electronic devices allowed. Use this time to meditate, to listen to music, to read an inspiring book, to sip a hot drink, to knit, to stare out the window, to take a bath, to play an instrument, or to just allow your thoughts to wander where they may. Do anything that helps you shut out the noise of the day, to decompress, to declutter your psyche and to just take some time to nourish your heart and mind every day.
At the start of each week, take 10 minutes to sit down and write out a meal plan for the next seven days, that includes a breakdown of the ingredients you’ll need to put together each meal (to make grocery shopping more straight forward). Plan out 3 meals a day (plus snacks) for the next 7 days, incorporating as many repeating and rotating meals as you can stand throughout the week so as to make your life easier and more efficient (i.e. more bulk cooking and less days you have to cook in total). Aim for variety in your meals from one week to the next, rather than from one day to the next.
10. Go to bed 10 minutes earlier.
Getting enough sleep each night is essential for keeping weight-gaining cortisol levels down while keeping weight-controlling leptin hormones up. Studies have shown that getting less than 5 hours of sleep a night leads to weight gain – even when diet and exercise are in play – while sleeping 7 to 9 hours is associated with successful weight loss, a happier mood and more stable energy levels throughout the day.