10 Ways to Make a Healthy Habit Stick
It’s 3 months into the new year and many of us start with a resolution to get healthier; whether it’s to start a new workout regimen or eat better. How’s that resolution working for you now? Have you managed to stay on track and achieve your goal? Or has it fell by the wayside already? If it has, NO WORRIES! You can start a healthy habit ANY TIME OF THE YEAR. You don’t even need to wait till the beginning of the month or a Monday, if you want to start something, the best time to start is NOW! However, before you start, it’s imperative you set yourself up for success. You may ask how can you do that? Well, here are a few suggestions that have worked for me.
1. Write out your goal and how you plan to achieve it. Just by writing something it solidifies it in your mind and it holds you a little bit more accountable to yourself. In addition, by writing out HOW you plan to achieve your goal, you’re stocking up your arsenal so to speak. Often times we may choose a goal, but not have any ideas on how we plan to achieve it. If you don’t have a few steps to lead you to your finish line, it’s unlikely you’ll get there. So write it down!
2. Be realistic. If you need to lose 50lbs to be a healthy weight, you may want to start with a goal of 25lbs. If you want to compete in a Triathlon, start with running a 5K. Sometimes goals that are too large make it near impossible to reach and that leads to a huge frustration and ultimately failure. Better to start small and once you reach your first goal, start working towards your second. Once you reach that first attainable goal, you’ll feel fantastic and have the confidence to keep going towards your final goal!
3. Remove obstacles. What does this mean? It means find out what your pitfalls can be, think about what can possibly derail your success. Is is sleeping in on the weekend then saying there’s not enough time to go for a run? Is it staying up too late which would make you too tired to get up early to workout before work? Is it driving by your favorite bakery where it’s too hard to pass up a sweet treat? Is it too hard to avoid snacking on chips if they are in the house? Find out what could possibly hinder your success and do what you can to change it.
4. Change your mindset. So it’s time to begin making changes, at the same time you’re changing your mindset and creating habits. You need to remember this is not something that is short term, it’s something you’ll be sticking to, long-term. So embrace the changes! Don’t search for diet foods to get you through till you lose the weight you wanted and then think you can go back to eating as you did. You should be looking for food you enjoy and can stick with eating from now on. Next thing you know it will be habit to grab that light vinaigrette at the grocery store or when you go out to eat instead of the heavy ranch. Or to skip the cheese on the hamburger or to ask for whole wheat instead of white. If you set your mindset right in understanding this is not a temporary adjustment but instead a lifestyle change, you’ll be set for success.
5. Focus on your success. This means several things, it means if you have a bad day and eat like crap, no need to punish yourself. Remember all of the days you ate well and move on the following day. If you are upset the scale isn’t moving fast enough, don’t forget there are many ways to measure success. Did you lose inches, pants fitting better, workouts getting easier because you’re stronger? Focus on the good, mindset can be make or break. Set your mindset to the positive.
6. Treat yourself. Forming life long healthy habits is about just that, the long term. This shouldn’t be about just the final goal and then you feel like you’re “done”. To maintain your new healthy weight you’ll need to do these things from now on. Otherwise you’ll be back making resolutions next January. So not only do you need to change your mindset to understand that, but you also need to treat yourself now and again. Life isn’t about being perfect. If you enjoy pizza or homemade cheesecake it’s not realistic to give it up forever. So, treat yourself!
7. Get friends involved. Looking for a workout buddy; get a friend involved. Most people who are active enjoy being active with others, it’s more fun when you have a friend and time goes by faster. Have a few friends who are foodies and like to try new healthy recipes? Follow them a bit more closely on Facebook or Instagram to see what they are doing. People often post their recipes or workouts. Text them if you’re in need of some tips on healthier eating, I’m sure they’d love to share. Whatever it is you need, even just a friend to talk things out with if you are frustrated when you hit a plateau, it will help to have friends who know your goals and who can lend an ear. They might have already been through what you have (losing baby weight maybe) and have some tips or suggestions.
8. Use technology. Many celebrity trainers are online like Jillian Michaels or Shaun T. They often have not only a Facebook or website, but also a YouTube channel where they post free short workouts or nutritional tip videos. There are also many bloggers whose sole focus is on health and fitness or recipes. Take advantage and follow them and be sure to check in at least weekly to look for inspiration. With the world at our fingertips it can be a huge resource when taking on a lifestyle change. You don’t need to invent the wheel when it comes to healthier recipes, just go online and search!
9. Be Conscious. By that I mean, it’s very easy to subconsciously derail your plan and not realize it. Being healthy means being conscious of all the choices you make and how they impact you. Personally for me it’s about remembering that often times one treat like a brownie can often be 1/3 of my daily calorie intake goal. So it needs to be a rare treat, not once a day or a few times a week. It’s about even though it’s a “rest day”, you can still do something lightly active like walking or stretching with yoga or using the time to clean out your garage. It’s about realizing every bite you put into your mouth counts so if you graze often through out the day you need to realize it adds up. So, just be conscious of what you do and how it can affect you.
10. Enjoy. Making a new healthy habit is hard work, however that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be fun. How can it be fun? It’s fun when you meet up with a friend at the gym and take a new class. It’s fun when you sign the whole family up for a 5K and see your kids faces as they cross the finish line. It’s fun when you try new recipes that are better for you and you truly enjoy them. It’s fun to buy new workout clothes and new jeans because your old jeans are too tight. It’s fun to experiment with skinny cocktails at your next get together with friends. It’s fun to pick up something you did as a kid like riding a bike, going for a swim or kicking around a soccer ball and realize you still enjoy it. There’s a lot of enjoyment in feeling better, fitter. So, enjoy!
One last suggestion as summer will be here before long. Healthy habits aren’t just something that happen at home. They are things that follow us wherever we go. Meaning, even when you’re on vacation this summer you should plan to do what you can to stick to your habits. Find active things to do, stay at a hotel with a fitness center, pack healthy snacks and find healthier places to stop and eat at. It will make a huge difference in coming back home at the same weight or having gained a few pounds. It also makes it harder to get back on track if you are completely derailed for a week or more. I’ve found sticking to my goals as best I can most days while I’m out of town helps me out in the long run so when I return I feel good.