Change is hard. Keep it simple.

There’s a reason our diets fail, our resolutions fade, and the promises we make to ourselves are left unfulfilled. We start off strong, like buying a gym membership or sweeping the cupboards clean of junk food. It’s exhilarating to start something new, but soon enough the wind in our sail fades and we’re back to square one. It’s a tiring cycle of excitement and disappointment, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We think you can break the cycle. Here’s how.

Make one small change in your daily routine. Just one.

Why? It’s easy and it’s doable. Opposed to setting yourself up for failure, you’re setting yourself up for success. Just think… you wouldn’t go out there and run a marathon when the most you’ve ever run in your life is to the end of your street corner! With diet and lifestyle changes, it’s the same. An overnight Total Raw Food Diet plan would be doomed to failure if you’ve been munching on donuts and burgers for the past 10 years.

Research shows the trick to sticking to a nutrition and fitness plan is by making small changes that work with your lifestyle, and in the long term, modest changes are most effective. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Something like swapping out soup for lunch is easy and manageable. It’s a place to start, it’s easy, and it allows you to continue living the life you’ve always lived with just one change. Once you master the soup swap, you can start to make other small changes towards a stronger, healthier you.

Small changes to try today

Just add something new! (this one’s the easiest)
Instead of removing anything from your diet now, start by adding something new. Add a small salad or a side of veggies during mealtimes, or drink an extra glass of water a day.

Sit down at the table for meals — no more TV dinners!
Don’t worry about what you eat, but where you eat. Have every meal at a table, away from distractions that disconnect you from your body’s hunger cues and feelings of fullness.

Ask yourself a question every time you go to eat something.
Every time you reach for something to eat, stop yourself and ask, “am I hungry?”. Even if the answer is no and you still find yourself eating, you’re getting in touch with your body and working on identifying triggers that lead you to unhealthy habits.

Take a little less
When you were younger you might have been told that you couldn’t leave the table until your plate was clean, and now you’re conditioned that way. While some people suggest leaving a little bit of food on your plate to break the habit of scraping it clean, we suggest using small plates and doling out smaller portions (you can always go for seconds!) — that way you don’t make a new habit of contributing to food waste.

Set a reminder to sleep
Pick a time earlier than you are used to to go to sleep. We set alarms to wake up, but rarely remind ourselves that it’s bedtime. Last-minute work, Instagram scrolling, and late-night Netflixing can easily extend later and later into the night hours.

Getting more sleep reduces stress and can help keep emotional eating at bay. You might not get to sleep right away once the reminder goes off, but you’re body might start to seek out this cue, leading you to some extra z’s… plus it might help you solve your snooze button addiction.

Make a list
Preparation is the key to success. Keep a list of go-to activities (like taking a walk or calling a friend) to choose from when you feel an emotional or mindless eating episode coming on. Keep it with you at all times, consider it your newest security blanket.

Allow indulgences
Give in every once in awhile (but not too much!). It’s why we have our “No Rules” day. Restricting yourself 24/7 might end up doing more harm than good, because if we slip up, we might fall off the wagon completely. Allowing a little indulgence here and there allows you to pick up where you left off, not fall into a spiral of regret!

The key to making a small change stick is by choosing something that’s right for you. The good news is — because we’re not talking climbing mountains here — that your likelihood of success greater when you simplify your goals. By mastering a small habit change successfully, you’ll feel empowered to make more and more little changes. Eventually they’ll add up, and you’ll be the healthiest you’ve known you could be, with a lot less effort involved. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Your best self isn’t going to be either.

Lutes, L. D., Winett, R. A., Barger, S. D., Wojcik, J. R., Herbert, W. G., Nickols-Richardson, S. M., & Anderson, E. S. (January 01, 2008). Small changes in nutrition and physical activity promote weight loss and maintenance: 3-month evidence from the ASPIRE randomized trial. Annals of Behavioral Medicine : a Publication of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, 35, 3, 351–7.