Healthy habits often feel impossible but they don't have to be. If you've ever wondered where you can start your journey to fitness and nutrition so that you can enjoy a longer, happier life. Here are nine useful ways of developing healthy habits and making them stick.
When thinking of eating better, losing weight, or making other such positive lifestyle changes, most of us are programmed to automatically turn to more temporary, unsustainable solutions. For example, we tend to think about “dieting” if we want to lose weight. But, one of the primary issues with such a relatively temporary mindset is that it doesn’t lead to sustainable, lasting change, which ultimately means that, more often than not, we end right back where we started.
The fact is that if we want to be lean, strong, and healthy, we don’t need to embark upon a “new diet” as if it were some magic pill, but rather, we need a new set of habits. Focusing on developing a single new habit at a time is a highly effective method for leading to successful health and fitness outcomes and maintaining them. With many programs and diets, there are overwhelming rules of what you can do, can’t do, need to do, and should do. They essentially push us from 0-60 in one day and can lead us to feel depleted, frustrated, overwhelmed, and unsuccessful.
When we lead a lifestyle of basic healthy habits, dieting and other intense methods become unnecessary. The process of making new habits can be challenging, which is why so many of us struggle to actually build new ones. Focusing on one single habit at a time is very effective.
Here are nine useful ways of developing healthy habits and making them stick.
Before you can make any changes and create new habits, you must be aware of your current habits that are not leading you to the outcome you desire. If your goal is to lose body fat, get specific as to the exact habits that are leading to excess fat. It’s even a good idea to write these items down on paper. Once you can visually see what you’re doing that isn’t serving you, you can tackle the changes in habit that you will need to make one at a time.
New habits don’t need to be huge and extravagant to be impactful. Starting with seemingly less significant goals can be powerful in helping you reach your goals and get motivated to build larger habits. Even small habits such as eating slowly or drinking more water are substantial.
Make It Measurable
As much as possible, make your new habit goal specific and measurable so you can truly track how you’re progressing. For instance, don’t make a subjective goal of “drinking more water” but rather, “I’m going to drink 1 gallon of water daily.” The latter is specific and measurable.
Set Up A Supportive Environment
As much as possible for your situation, set up an environment that is supportive of the new habit change you’re working to build. For example, if you typically enjoy ice cream at night, don’t keep ice cream in the freezer to tempt you. Instead, replace the ice cream with a more nutritious alternative so that you’re not left feeling deprived. Or, if your goal is to drink more water, pack additional water bottles, set them out everywhere, and even set reminders in your phone to help you drink more. Cues in your environment can go a long way in helping or hurting your progress.
Let the people in your life be a source of support and encouragement. Share with them your new habit goal. They can be there to help remind you, support you, and help you on the days that are more challenging.
Setting milestones along the way helps you continue to feel like you’re successful, growing, and mastering your goals. Feeling successful will help you stick with it and not get discouraged.
As the old saying goes, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” not having a plan and not being prepared can be a huge hindrance to your progress. If your goal is to not eat out, but you don’t pack a snack or a lunch with you, you’re much more likely to eat out when you get hungry because you’re simply not prepared. Or, if your plan is to stay hydrated but you don’t set reminders or have water that’s easily accessible, you’re not likely to reach your goal very effectively. A little bit of preparation ahead of time can go a very long way in helping you create new habits. Once these changes truly become habits, less preparation is needed as it’s just what you do!
Make It Doable
Creating a new habit is hard. Doing whatever you can to make it “doable” will be helpful, especially in the beginning. For example, if your goal is to eat home-cooked meals more often, buy pre-cut vegetables to help you more easily make the transition from eating out to cooking at home. Discover ways to make your goals manageable.
Remember Progress, Not Perfection
The goal is to develop a new habit, not to be perfect. Even once the item becomes a habit, that doesn’t mean it’s going to always be perfect every single day. And that’s completely okay. Habits are what you do most of the time, not all of the time. So, don’t feel unsuccessful if you’re not perfect day in and day out while building new habits. Habits are about a lifestyle you can maintain, that’s what leads to lasting results. So breathe easy and understand it’s not about perfection.