Resolutions: Take Small Steps to Make Big Changes in Your Health

Year after year, for many of us, time seems to fly by more quickly. And now, here we are ringing in the New Year of 2022. It’s often a time of reflection on the past year and an opportunity to assess changes we should put on our to-do list for the upcoming year.

For many, New Year’s seems to be synonymous with time to lose weight or to start thinking about living a healthy lifestyle. For people diagnosed with pre-diabetes or Type 2 diabetes, losing weight is the number one recommended strategy for maintaining blood sugar levels.

As a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist, I’m all for living a healthy lifestyle all year long.

Personally, and professionally, I’m not a fan of waiting until January to start pursuing healthy living because you can do that during any month of the year. But, losing weight or living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t just happen overnight, so if this topic has tweaked some interest, let’s go ahead and start making some adjustments in our daily routines. Baby steps, not huge leaps.

Individualized healthy eating patterns combined with an exercise routine are key components of a healthy lifestyle. Calories are based on your specific nutrition needs. Every year, U.S. News has a panel of nutrition experts rate the Best Diets. I’m honored to be part of that panel, and you have a great advantage by reviewing the ratings if you’re looking for an eating plan.

[READ: Intermittent Fasting With Diabetes: Is It Safe?]

Slow and Steady

If we are making lifestyle changes, slow and steady works best in the long term. I’ve put together a list of some small changes you can take by making some reductions the amount of food you eat by 100 calories per day, and/or options on increasing your physical activity in 100 calorie increments. By reducing 100 calories a day or bumping up your activity, you can possibly lose 10 pounds in one year.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Lose 100 Calories With Food Changes

Lose 100 calories by swapping out some food choices:

— Substitute an English muffin for a bagel. Read the food labels while you are at the grocery store or do your homework online reviewing food labels before shopping to make the best choice.

— Use salsa to top a salad instead of salad dressing. Fresh salsa located in the produce section of the grocery store tends to be your lowest calorie, lowest carb choice.

— Eliminate 2 teaspoons of fat (oil, butter or margarine). Instead, use spices to enliven your food. Spices can add a burst of flavor without adding extra fat, sodium and calories. In place of butter, use cinnamon on your morning oatmeal or sweet potato and season your vegetables with spices and herbs in place of butter.

— Add two servings of vegetables to your lunch and dinner meal. Fill your plate with veggies in place of loading up on more carbohydrate foods or protein foods. For instance, add sliced tomato, cucumber, dark leafy greens or roasted vegetables to a sandwich or as a side in place of cheese, white rice or pasta.

— Sauté using vegetable broth instead of olive oil. You’ll still get the moisture required for preparing a sauté dish and flavor but not the extra calories and fat.

[READ: What Are the Treatments for Type 2 Diabetes?]

Lose 100 Calories by Choosing Different Behaviors

Lose 100 calories by choosing different lifestyle behaviors:

— Eat at home rather than a restaurant. Most people consume a significantly more calories when eating out. Statistics have shown at least 200 more calories are consumed on average when dining outside of the home.

— Put together a strategy for when you do eat out. Review the menu options ahead of time; ask the waitstaff to have your food prepped to lower the calories. For example, ask for sauces and dressings on the side and plan on taking home at least half of your portion that’s served.

— Make behavior changes slowly by practicing the changes daily until it becomes a part of your everyday routine.

— Check in with your thinking – attitude and mindset are a large part of making changes in lifestyle behaviors.

[Read: Ways Stress Makes You Gain Weight.]

Use 100 Calories by Adding Physical Activity

Use 100 calories by adding more physical activity to your day by:

— Raking leaves or shoveling snow for 20 minutes. These activities are helpful because they use multiple muscle groups, which burns calories faster.

— Accumulate 14 minutes climbing steps throughout the day. Working against the force of gravity burns more calories than walking on level ground.

— Keeping track of your steps through your smart watch or phone makes you more conscious about moving more. These devices can serve as your “walking buddy” to help keep you motivated and accountable.

— Add 17 minutes of shadow boxing to your day. If you’re looking for a no cost physical activity and you’re limited on space or time of day to get outdoors, try shadow boxing, which will give you a great workout. A full hour of this activity will burn about 400 calories.

— Cleaning your floors can help you burn calories. I love this activity that serves a dual purpose: cleaning a house and getting in some body movement. Mopping or sweeping your floors for 25 minutes will help you burn about 100 calories.

This list isn’t all inclusive, and you certainly can pick and choose any of these ideas. It’s important that you take small steps when making changes. The premise behind this list is that these tweaks to your daily living will be changes you can make without feeling that you’re missing out on living life to its fullest.

More from U.S. News

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Resolutions: Take Small Steps to Make Big Changes in Your Health originally appeared on usnews.com

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