Healthy Habits for Happy Humans #2, Baby Steps

gentle to selfMost of us have watched a child learn to walk, roller skate, or play the clarinet. They didn’t start out proficient, did they? There were plenty of stumbles and falls and a few screeches along the way. Nonetheless, we didn’t criticize or belittle their efforts. We applauded and encouraged them, understanding the each little step was necessary to the next.
Unfortunately, we rarely give ourselves the same privilege when we set out to learn something new, like eating healthier or moving more. We call ourselves weak or stupid. Or worse.
I submit that the fault is not in ourselves, but in our expectations. We expect perfection of our very imperfect, very human selves. Perhaps the goal—perfect compliance with new learning— was too big.
Don’t get me wrong. Lofty, long-term goals are important and worthwhile, but so are all the steps leading to them. Break that big goal into smaller goals. How small? So small that you are absolutely certain of success. And when you achieve that little bitty goal, don’t belittle it, celebrate it. Soon, you’ll feel more capable and ready to take the next step. Success breeds success.
Start where you are, with what you have, just one small step from where you are right this minute.smallest step
Some examples:
Want be more active? If you can only walk five minutes away from home and five minutes back, do that. Then next week, add five minutes. If you are walking twenty minutes a day, make it thirty. Already at thirty? Make it forty.
Already hitting the gym three times a week for an hour? Add a day.
If you wear an activity monitor (pedometer, Fitbit, or the like), spend a few days seeing what “normal” is for you. Then bump up your steps a bit each week until reach the recommended 10,000 a day. Maybe your goal will be to find that pedometer and wear it. Or buy one.
Want to eat more fruits and vegetables? Start where you are. Not eating any? Replace one snack a day with an apple or banana. Already eating some but not the five-a-day? Include a fruit or vegetable with every meal or snack.
Not sure what you’re eating? Keep a food diary for one day. Or two. Or a full week. Observe what foods, situations and times of the day trip you up.
Start small. Set a goal that is too small to fail, but not too small to matter.
What one baby step will you take this week? Care to share?

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3 thoughts on “Healthy Habits for Happy Humans #2, Baby Steps

    1. Another thought. Different brands of whole grain pastas are, well, different. Keep trying until you find one you like. My white-bread-only husband likes the whole grain angel hair pasta I make to accompany turkey picatta. And it cooks fast.

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