Stop Making BIG resolutions. Start Making SMALL Habit Changes.

Make Small Habit Changes, Not Big Resolutions
Does your New Year’s resolution list look like this? Try starting with smaller habit changes—you’ll see bigger results in the end!

Why do we so often hear that big resolutions don’t stick?

It’s largely because we focus on the end result (the goal) rather than the means to the end (the routine). In addition, there could be the disbelief that small changes are effective.

When I have conversations about weight loss with patients of mine, I always want to take it a step further than diet and exercise.

I peel back the layers and look at specific routines or habits that will drive or inhibit success in the weight loss journey. The conversation specifically involves forming new habits and replacing old habits. This helps drive small changes which lead to big results over time.

Generally speaking, we think of a habit as something we do often. Clinically speaking, however, a habit is an automatic response to everyday contexts (cue), learned through repeated performance in those contexts (cue).

So how do you go about forming new habits? Well, again, it’s important to start small.

Make a list of your daily routines (these will represent the “cues”). Next, pick out cues that you do consistently that are associated with positive and healthy routines you enjoy (reward).

Repeat the routine every time you are exposed to the cue.

For example, putting on my pajamas (cue) and brushing my teeth (routine). Every time your brain reads the cue of (putting on pajamas), you respond with the routine (brushing teeth) in order to develop it into a habit.

Secondly, make sure the habit is small and specific. A good example is filling up your water bottle while your coffee is brewing. Another is doing squats when you turn on the microwave. Once these small routines are automatic and habitual, you will gain confidence and momentum towards other larger healthy lifestyle routines and habits.

Be sure to celebrate your victories! This can be as simple as recognizing an internal sense of well-being or boost in confidence. In fact, these immediate victories have been shown to go a long way and are more direct tactics.


By Staci Lupberger, MS, RD


It’s important to take small steps toward big changes. Check out these tips and get started one small step at a time. Want to get started at the gym? Click here to get a FREE guest pass to the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.

Want to hear more on this topic? Check out Staci Lupberger, RD, one of the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center’s registered dietitians and program director for My New Weigh, on 9News.

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