Newswise — We live in a world of excess, and every year, the holiday season brings more. More spending, more eating and more indulging. And every January 1, people make resolutions to hit a reset button, focus on their health and simplify their lives.

As New Year’s approaches, experts will advise people to focus on taking baby steps toward reaching their goals. Chris Wharton, an associate professor in the Arizona State University College of Health Solutions, believes baby steps aren’t enough.

“The problem is, if we live in a world of excess, changing one small thing at a time will accomplish next to nothing for many people,” he said. “Why? Because the world around us and our lifestyles will still be built to support the behaviors we want to change, not the new behaviors we’re trying to establish.”

Americans face big challenges when it comes to health and spending, he said. Americans:

  • Spend more time in their cars than they do outside
  • Watch 35 hours of television per week
  • Spend more money on eating out than on groceries
  • Waste 1/3 of food produced in the U.S.
  • Have less than $1,000 in retirement savings, are indebted, and would struggle if faced with a $500 emergency

Wharton’s solution: Don’t change just one thing at a time. Instead, change everything, all at once.

“This seems counter-intuitive, and hard,” he said. “But, recent research has shown that we’re more adaptable to change, even dramatic change, than we give ourselves credit for. It’s possible to make major changes in our behaviors, including key behaviors like screen time, transportation, eating habits, physical activity and spending that can work together to help changes stick.”

To schedule an interview with Wharton, including a live or pre-recorded broadcast interview in ASU’s professional recording studio, contact ASU’s Media Relations Manager Leslie Minton at [email protected].