45 Health Resolutions That Only Require One Small Change

Taking your workout outdoors is a great way to find motivation and mental clarity. (Brian Metzler/Unsplash)

For starters, you do not have to do all 45—just one is fine!

BY GABRIELLE KASSEL, HEALTHLINE

December 30, 2018 Updated: December 30, 2018

There’s some powerful New Year’s energy in the air. Now’s the time to harness those vibes and head into a fresh year ready to become more healthy, awesome, and powerful.

Whether you need help thinking up resolutions for the upcoming year, or want something small and specific enough that you’ll actually stick to, we’ve got a great list of 45 resolutions to choose from.

Consider these doable, affordable, and health-minded. These are not quick fixes. These resolutions will help you spend time more time acting on your goals and less time feeling overwhelmed by big, lofty commitments. And isn’t that the point of resolutions in the first place?

Make It Easy to Stay Active

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1. Take the Stairs or Walk Up the Escalator

“Making a resolution to work out more is a good goal. But incorporating movement into our daily lives is important, too,” says Alena Luciani, MS, CSCS, Pn1, founder of Training2xl.

“Take the stairs! Walk up the escalator instead of just riding it. Take the stairs to the second floor, then take the elevator the rest of the way up.”

2. Work Out Outside, if Possible

Skip the post-New Year’s Eve gym rush and take your workout to the playground or outdoor track. Being outside, especially during the winter, will invigorate you.

In fact, a 2011 study found that outdoor exercise was associated with greater decreases in confusion, anger, and depression when compared to indoor activity. Plus, it will help you realize just how easy it is to move more anywhere.

If it’s too cold for a full outdoor workout, even a 5-minute walk can boost your mood.

3. Count Your Workout Goals by Days

There’s just something more fun about working out 300 days a year as opposed to five or six days a week.

“Completing 300 workouts in a year has been my resolution for the last four years. As a doctor and part-time coach this gives me more freedom to skip workouts when I’m too busy. Plus, it’s fun to tell people,” says former regionals CrossFit athlete Allison Warner, a coach at ICE NYC, a fitness studio in New York City. Touché.

While Warner keeps track with check marks on a monthly calendar, which she tallies and adds at the end of each month, a gold star or sticker system will work, too.

4. Do One Hip Opening Stretch a Day

Thanks to our sit-all-day lifestyle, most of us have tight hip flexors.

“Tight hip flexors can lead to pain in your back, knees, and other issues throughout your body. But spending one minute stretching each of your hip flexors can help,” says Grayson Wickham, doctor of physical therapy and founder of Movement Vault, a mobility and stretch streaming service.

Wickham recommends a hip flexor stretch, which you do by getting into a lunge on the ground and placing one knee in front at a 90-degree angle. You’ll then move your pelvis and torso slightly, pausing where you feel tension

5. Try to Touch Your Toes Each Morning

Doing this will help improve your hamstring strength, but don’t ever force the stretch. Let yourself get there gradually.

“This is a great challenge, but you need to make certain not to do too much too soon,” Wickham says. “Think about your muscles like rubber bands—which are naturally elastic in nature—if you stretch them too far before they’re ready, they can snap, or get injured.”

6. Learn to Do a Proper Pushup

Reminiscent of resolution eight, Warner says that setting a very specific movement-based goal can be incredibly motivating. And while we all know what a pushup is, we might not actually be doing it right. The classic move is incredibly effective at building upper body and chest strength.

7. Learn How to Do a Pull-up

A pullup is another movement using body weight that’s both difficult and beneficial. Incorporating progressions like resistance band pullups, jumping pullups, and isometric holds at the top can help you get there.

8. Improve Your Shoulder Mobility

Mobility may sound like just another buzzword but it’s super important for reducing the risk of injury, improving strength, and promoting graceful aging.

“I see so many shoulder injuries that could have been prevented if people had better shoulder mobility,” says Ariel Osharenko, sports performance physical therapist and owner of On Point Physical Therapy in NYC.

Try Osharenko’s movement once a day (10 to 15 repetitions), or before your workouts, to reduce stiff kinks in your shoulder and achieve huge improvements in mobility.

9. Meditate Before Your Workout

“Meditate more” may be one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions, but since the benefits are science-backed, it’s a good one. There’s no bad time to meditate, but practicing meditation for just five to ten minutes before you exercise is a great way to tune into your body, relax, and prepare to focus on your workout on hand.


 woman listens to the music on a suspension bridge in the tropic forest. (Shutterstock)

10. Pack Your Gym Bag the Night Before

Mentally preparing to hit the gym is half of the battle. Physically preparing is the other half. That’s why Jackie Stauffer, founder of clean beauty brand for athletes, Recess, suggests packing your gym bag the night before.

“Remember to pack a snack, some wet wipes and dry shampoo, an extra pair of socks and underwear, earbuds, and a change of clothes,” she says.

11. Find a Workout Buddy

An app is nice but a friend is better. Find a new workout buddy, or join forces with someone with similar fitness goals to keep each other accountable.

“Working out with a friend is way more fun, and I know I’m way less likely to skip a workout if I’ve committed to a plan with someone else,” says Stauffer.

12. Leave Your Phone in the Car

So much gym time is wasted scrolling through our phones. Try leaving your phone in the car once a week, or if you need your phone for music, try putting it on airplane mode.

When you’re resting, explore what the gym has to offer, introduce yourself to the personal trainers, or simply sit there. Not only will you be surprised how much quicker you get your routine done, it’ll help you disconnect and de-stress from work.

13. Try Working Out Without Music

Music and exercise go together like cake and candles. But as much as we love getting our sweat on to good tunes, music can make us forget to tune in with our body. A 2009 study shows that association-based attention (focusing in the body) can reduce injuries or overexertion for high-intensity workouts.

That’s why this year you should try to work out without Drake rapping in your ear, especially on the fast and hard routines. This will force you to tune into your breathing and biomechanics instead.

14. Sign Up for a Fitness Event

Get a Tough Mudder on your calendar. Put your name down for the company 5K. Crash your pal’s plans to do a Spartan Sprint.

Whatever it is, signing up for a fitness event helps orient your exercise goals around something fun and community-building.

15. Prioritize Recovery

As the saying goes, “everything in moderation.” That includes exercise. Make sure to take a recovery day at least once a week.

16. Be Gentle With Yourself if You Have a Bad Week

At some point during the next year—or starting from whenever you decide to work out—there may be a bad week.

Maybe work got crazy, the parents came to visit, or you succumbed to the temptation of Netflix a few nights in a row. CrossFit coach Izzy Levy, owner of ICE NYC says, “Accept that you had an off week. Then move on. Don’t let a slip become a fall. Instead, make the effort to get back into a routine.”

Fuel Your Body Well

17. Fuel Your Workouts With a Pre-Workout Snack

Properly fuel your workouts with a mixture of fast-acting carbohydrates, protein, and a little bit of healthy fat.

Amy Shapiro, Daily Harvest registered dietician, says, “You can’t work out if you aren’t fueled and you won’t get results if you don’t refuel right.” If your workout is going to start within two hours, aim for something like a protein smoothie, which will combine carbs, protein, fat, and antioxidants which boost recovery.

18. Dial In Your Post-Workout Nutrition

What you eat after your workout matters, too. Shapiro suggests tossing a few cherries onto your Greek yogurt and granola or in a protein smoothie.

“They’ve been shown to reduce soreness and the natural sugars will help to rebuild your energy stores,” she says. Cherries also provide antioxidants, essential after a workout when your body needs carbs to rebuild its glycogen stores and protein to help and regrow the broken-down muscles.

19. Love Your Joints, Invest in Collagen

“Whether you’re running the Boston Marathon, climbing hills at SoulCycle or snatching at CrossFit, joints can get a little cranky if we don’t give them the TLC they need,” says Jenn Randazzo, MS, RD, CLT.

“Because collagen has been linked to healthy joints, I recommend people implement it into their routines.” You can get collagen naturally through food—from berries, salmon, bone broths and more—or incorporate supplements and powders into your drinks.

20. Keep a Healthy Snack in Your Purse or Car

We’ve all been there: It’s 4:00 p.m., you’ve eaten healthy all day, but you’re starving and the gas station or deli is calling your name. Bonnie Taub-Dix, registered dietary nutritionist, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of “Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table,” suggests being prepared for these moments.

“Keep snacks like a DIY trail mix with unsalted nuts and dried fruit on hand. These have the perfect trifecta of protein, carbs, and healthy fats.” If you don’t have one of these with you, Taub-Dix suggests opting for a snack with only pronounceable ingredients.

21. Stock Your Freezer

Takeout and delivery may be our saving grace after a long day, but there’s a lot of unknown ingredients hidden in quick-fix restaurant meals. Plus, they aren’t the most cost-effective.

So instead, stock your freezer with healthy homemade eats you simply thaw after a busy day. Soap, stews, and chilis are great go-tos.

22. Make Half Your Plate Veggies

When you overly restrict what you can and can’t eat, people tend to fall into a cycle of restriction and binging.

That’s why Keri Gans, registered dietitian nutritionist and certified yoga instructor, says instead of ruling out foods, learn how to enjoy them. “Still enjoy the pasta, but instead of cooking a whole bowl, add one cup of pasta into a pan with olive oil with garlic, broccoli, spinach, and other vegetables.” This will help keep your portion sizes small and your fiber intake high.

23. Add an Egg to One Meal, Every Day

If you have body composition or fitness goals, a great way to them is to include a high-quality protein at every meal, recommends Brigitte Zeitlin, registered dietitian, owner of BZ Nutrition.

One large egg will add 6 grams of high-quality protein plus 13 essential vitamins and minerals—a total win-win for all of your 2019 health goals.

24. Eat Hemp Hearts

Hemp hearts are one of our top choices for 2019. “They’re a great way to boost your omega-3 intake, which can help with fighting inflammation, boosting heart health, and improving cognition. They’re a great source of plant-based protein that’ll help build and maintain strong, healthy muscles, and bones,” adds Zeitlin.

Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, yogurts, soups, stews, salads, and stir-fries for a nutty, crunchy, seriously healthy boost for the New Year.

25. Recognize Hungry Versus Starving

“Waiting too long to eat between meals almost always guarantees that you’ll overeat at your next meal, sabotaging your health goals,” says Zeitlin. Hungry is when it’s time to eat, while starving is when your body is burning more energy.

She suggests avoiding feeling starved by keeping snacks on you, eating your next meal when you’re hungry, and having something small to eat before you go out to dinner to help you avoid filling up or mindless eating.

26. Replace Your Coffee With Matcha

Ali Miller, licensed dietitian, recommends swapping your morning java with matcha—which is higher in antioxidants and has been described as providing a less jolty buzz than coffee.

Cream pouring from jug to matcha green tea iced latte or cocktail in glass, with ice cubes, matcha powder on white marble table, decorated by green branches. (Shutterstock)

27. Bring Mindfulness to Your Meals

Weight loss expert Judson Brewer, director of research and innovation at the Mindfulness Center at Brown University, suggests swapping any weight loss resolution with mindfulness.

Here’s how it works: “Bring mindful awareness to identify what you’re craving, and then why you’re craving it. Is it because it’s what your body needs to be nourished? Or is it emotional? Use that moment of mindfulness to reflect back on previous times you’ve indulged in a treat versus rewarded your body for a job well done with food that pays it forward for the next workout. This awareness can help to drive future learning and build healthy habits.”

28. Hydrate in the AM

Drink a full glass of water as soon as you wake up. Besides providing you needed hydration after a night without it, drinking 16 ounces in the morning might actually increase your metabolism.

29. And Then Keep Hydrating All Day Long

“Carry or take a water bottle with you wherever you go and keep drinking to stay well hydrated,” suggests Kim Larson, health and wellness coach at Total Health.

If you work from an office, she suggests refilling your water bottle every hour. If you work from home, she suggests keeping a glass of water by the sink and try drinking a glass of water every time you brush your teeth or wash your hands.

30. Drink Alcohol Wisely

If you’re going to consume alcohol, nutritionist Mike Roussell has two tips: First, wait at least three hours after exercising to imbibe—which will ensure that your body has the chance to properly repair your muscles before redirecting its energy to metabolize the alcohol.

Second, “Ideally don’t have any drinks 90 to 120 minutes before bedtime. This will allow enough time for your body to metabolize alcohol before your body transitions into the deep stages of sleep.”

Organize and Grow Your Mind

31. Read One Book per Month

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions to break is to read a whole book every week. If you’re not a usual reader, this is a hefty goal.

Instead, commit to reading one book every two weeks. Or one book a month. It’s good for your brain. But it’s also good for your soul.

32. Start Tracking Your Period

Even if you have an IUD, take birth control, or aren’t sexually active, tracking your period will help you feel more in touch with your body and its rhythms.

33. Schedule ‘Me Time’ Into Your Calendar

This is the year to up your self-care game. Founder of functional food brand Wylde One, Stephanie Park suggests literally scheduling it into your calendar.

“Every Sunday, I add ‘me time’ into my following week. I’ll block out times and prioritize it like I would with a work meeting. Maybe it’s a walk with a friend. Maybe it’s listening to a podcast. Maybe it’s just an hour of no social media.”

34. Stop Buying Bottled Water

Not only are plastic bottles wasteful, but they’re also laced with bisphenol-A (BPA), a bad-for-you chemical that’s been linked to obesity and other health problems. Instead, buy a BPA-free reusable water bottle and carry it around with you.

35. Finish Your Shower With Cold Water

Need some convincing reasons to give it a try? Johnny Adamic, co-founder of Brrrn in New York City, has a ton of them.

“Cold showers may help in the production of healthier hair. They may boost mood, deepen breathing, improve lymphatic movement, regulate temperature, improve blood circulation, strengthen immunity, boost recovery after exercise, decrease inflammation, or result in better sleep. And finally… cold showers may help the body become stronger and adapt to stressors.” Boom.

36. Floss Your Teeth More

You already know that flossing is good for your oral hygiene. So, just do it.

37. Spruce Up Your Bedroom

Sorry iPhone, you’re not invited.

“So many people fail to get the sleep they need because they simply put off going to bed. I recommend increasing your motivation to snooze by investing in a new mattress, luxurious bedding, a [perfect] pillow, or product that heats or cools your bed to an optimal temperature,” says Chris Winter, MD, author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep is Broken and How to Fix It, and medical director of the Sleep Medicine Center at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

38. Go To Therapy

Finding a therapist and going to therapy are huge steps in taking the reins of your mental health. If you’ve been wanting to start seeing a therapist, 2019 is your year.

39. Actually, Take Your Makeup Off Before Bed

It’s so simple, yet so many of us don’t do it—and then wonder why our skin isn’t clear. Make it your mission to take off your makeup before you go to bed to give your skin a chance to breathe.

40. Replace Negative Speak With Positive Speak When You Can

The language you use influences your life.

Instead of saying, “Don’t do X”, say, “Please do Y.” Instead of saying “I’m awful at X,” say, ‘“I’m really good at Y.” Also, high-energy words of “can” will make you feel more empowered.

41. Choose a Theme

Every year the Oxford Dictionary chooses a word of the year to reflect “the ethos, mood or preoccupations” of a particular year. The 2018 word was “toxic”—try picking a word proactively instead. Don’t let 2018 to set the tone of 2019.

Need some ideas? Upgrade. Empathy. Compassion. Independence. Perseverance.

42. Clean Your Closets

It is harder to get good things done when feeling disorganized and messy. Take a page from Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” which made waves in homes and with journalists all around the world. Get rid of your excess stuff and enjoy the great things left over.

43. Go On a Social Media Cleanse

Thanks to Instagram’s new feature, you can learn exactly how many hours you’ve been spending scrolling and double-tapping.

If you’re anything like us, that number is probably pretty damn big. So, try disconnecting. You might be surprised how good it feels.

44. Invest in Your Support System

Whatever your goal, personal trainer Devon Day Moretti, says that you need more than just your aspiration to succeed—you need accountability.

“Dedicate 2019 to developing a support system. Something or someone to hold you responsible—especially on the days you don’t feel like it. Creating a couple external sources of accountability this year will help you actualize your desires.”

45. Write a Letter to Your Future Self

Drafting a letter to your December 2019 self is a way of creating a vision of what you’d like your year to be filled with. Once the letter is written, go out and manifest it.

Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based wellness writer. This article was first published on Healthline.com