12/18/2012 01:34 pm ET Updated Feb 17, 2013

A Better, More Successful Approach to the New Year's Resolution


It is hard to believe the New Year is almost two weeks away. The general trend we will see over the next few weeks will include lots of eating, drinking and celebrating. When New Year's Day arrives, however, many of us vow to make change in the New Year. As much as I like to subscribe to the resolution tradition, I've come to realize over the years that often, they don't stick. The reason is simple: It is human nature to bite off more than we can chew.

Change, even that which is positive, is difficult. Yet, we assume it should be achievable within a very short period of time. Unfortunately, the instant gratification we crave is exactly what hinders us from attaining success. The key is to acknowledge and accept that change takes time and requires a longer-term commitment... and no matter how noble our intentions, it isn't going to happen all in one day on Jan. 1.

If you're embarking on a resolution for big change in the coming new year, I'd like to propose you take a new approach: Trade in the big and lofty change for small, yet meaningful modifications. In 52 Small Changes, I prescribe a new small change for each week of the year, because over time, you'll have made many small steps toward the big goal. This approach is more successful for the following reasons:

  1. One Big Goal = Many Small Steps. Every big goal, such as weight loss, requires many smaller actions, such as cutting out bad foods, exercising, and eating healthy foods. Breaking a big goal into smaller components makes the process more manageable.
  2. Extremes Don't Work: Overhauling our life -- or more simply put, going from all to nothing, or vice versa -- can cause burn out. Taking a step-by-step approach, however, can help make change seem less overwhelming.
  3. It Feeds Our Need to Succeed: Attempting to do everything at once, but ignoring each small step we take along the way, doesn't give us a sense of accomplishment. Allowing ourselves to master small adjustments gives us an opportunity to feel successful and the motivation to forge ahead toward the bigger goal.

Interested in this approach? I've got a few to get you started:

  1. Drink Up!: Proper hydration keeps your body functioning optimally, carries nutrients to cells and aids in digestion. Aim to get your weight divided by two in ounces of water to ensure you're staying well hydrated.
  2. Be a Bean Counter: Eat 1/2 cup of beans a day or three cups of beans a week. Beans are a great source of protein and fiber and are high in nutrients, making them a super food.
  3. Keep It Clean and Green: Avoid toxic chemicals in your household and instead opt for all-natural options, such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon. Or, if you choose, purchase household cleaners that aren't as harsh.
  4. Nuts, Seeds, Oils, Oh My!: Enjoy healthy, monounsaturated fats. These can be found in nuts, seeds, and fatty fruits, including avocado and olives. Also, canola oil and olive oil are good sources as well.
  5. Downshift Your Dairy: Choose lower-fat dairy options for your milk, cheese and yogurt. This will help to decrease your intake of saturated fat.

Have you been thinking about the New Year? Have you started thinking about what you'd like to do resolution or anti-resolution wise?

Make real, lasting change with this easy-to-follow, week-by-week guide to healthy change. Get 52 Small Changes now, just in time for Christmas.

For more by Brett Blumenthal, click here.

For more on New Year's resolutions, click here.