Carlla Jones, Health Educator
U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine
Most of us have health goals we are working on or would like to work on. These goals include things like losing weight, quitting smoking or getting more exercise. Too often, people give up because they think the goals are too far out of reach or because they try to change too much at one time. The key to better health habits is to set realistic goals and then take small steps to meet them.
There are many ways to take small steps towards better health. Choose one of the small steps below, or create your own. Get friends and Family involved in taking small steps every day. Before you know it, you will see the positive effects of small steps.
Here are some small steps that easily can fit into an everyday routine:
Small steps: eating
- Use fat-free milk over whole milk, 2 percent or even 1 percent milk.
- Drink water before a meal.
- Eat half your dessert.
- Don’t eat late at night or skip meals.
- Put less on your plate than you think you can eat and then don’t take second helpings. Wait 10 minutes before going back for seconds. You might not want seconds after all.
Small steps: cooking
- Grill, steam or bake instead of frying.
- Use applesauce instead of oil or shortening when baking.
- Use spices instead of salt. Or, use half the amount of salt.
- Have fruit for dessert, like baked apples, pears or a fruit salad.
Small steps: exercise
- Take a walk or do desk exercises instead of a cigarette or coffee break.
- Ask a friend to exercise with you.
- Play with your kids 30 minutes a day.
- Get a dog and walk it. Or walk someone else’s dog. Or walk the dog whether you have one or not. Take longer walks.
- Walk to a co-worker’s desk instead of e-mailing or calling them.
Small steps: Trying new healthy habits
- Try your burger with just lettuce, tomato and onion instead of with cheese and a roll.
- Try brown rice or whole wheat pasta.
- Try eating at least two vegetables with dinner.
- Try "lean" fast food options like smaller burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches or salads with low-calorie dressings.
Wise words for taking small steps
- The first wealth is health. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
- We are what we repeatedly do. (Aristotle)
- The victory is not always to the swift, but to those who keep moving. (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- There are 1440 minutes in every day … schedule 30 of them for physical activity. (CDC)
- Take some small steps towards better health today: you can do it! (Me)
For more information about taking small steps towards better health, go to
Health Tips from Army Medicine