Old habits are hard to break. And it’s especially hard to form new ones. Whether you’re hoping to lose weight, eat better, or get stronger, you may have a newfound desire to improve your overall health. Below are five tips to form healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
Enhance Your Awareness
The first step to changing your healthy habits is to create an awareness around what you do regularly. Look for patterns in your behavior and what triggers the unhealthy habits you want to change. Maybe you eat too much while watching TV or you’re always joining a friend on smoke breaks when you don’t want a cigarette. You can develop ways to disrupt those patterns and create new ones. For example, eating meals with the TV off or joining friends for healthy activities, like walk breaks.
Make Small Changes
Researchers recommend making a healthy choice stick by doing it as soon as you wake up. However, what about making healthy choices throughout the rest of the day? If eating at your favorite Mexican food restaurant triggers you to overindulge and eat too much, consider finding a new place to eat, or search for a healthier meal option. Whenever possible, make the healthy choice the easy choice.
One way to do this is to create small, specific, and measurable goals. Begin with a victory you can define and that means something to you. Take the stairs, not the elevator. Walk 10 minutes every day. But don’t go overboard. The idea of dropping 30 pounds in one month will only lead to frustration. However, aiming to lose 5 or 10 pounds in one month is much more attainable.
Ask for Help
I’ve written before about how to encourage your kids to exercise. Whether it’s your kids, spouse, or close friends, you should empower loved ones to get involved. Invite them to join you, support you, and help you stay on track. When you write down your goals and share them with others it helps to strengthen your commitment. Plus, your loved ones will hopefully reinforce the good decisions you’ve been making and encourage your progress.
There will be times when you wonder if you can stick with it. Identify negative thoughts and turn them into realistic productive ones. Keeping a record can help, such as a journal, to track your behavior.
Sometimes when you feel like you’re failing you can learn the most. List the times you felt unhappy or most agitated – such as, kicking yourself for ordering that unhealthy dessert. Identifying your biggest challenges will actually help your goals take shape and direction.
Think About the Future
Some people have a harder time resisting their impulses than others. You can learn to postpone immediate gratification by forming a strong vision of what you want to achieve in order to succeed. It’s a great way to strengthen your ability to make decisions that are better for you in the long run.
Remember: You’re never too out of shape, too overweight, or too old to make healthy changes. What strategies have worked best for you? I’ve love to hear your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.