They say breaking up is hard to do… and whether we’re talking about a bad relationship, or a bad habit, the truth is, change can be difficult!
According to a 2018 poll, 45% of American’s set a New Year’s resolution to lose weight or get in shape. Of the 45%, roughly 92% won’t stick to it for more than a couple weeks. What makes most people give up on building healthy habits compared to the 8% who are able to create lasting change?
Turns out, it’s not so much about WHAT the resolution or goal is, but HOW you approach it.
Here are 5 Steps to Creating Healthy Habits:
SET SMALL, CONFIDENCE BOOSTING GOALS
Small, incremental lifestyle changes may not feel exciting, but they have a much greater chance of creating real change.
When a goal is too ambitious, or we take an “all or nothing” approach, we struggle to adapt to the new habit, become discouraged, and ultimately give up all together. Part of the trouble is our society has a “magic bullet” fixation. We want a pill or powder or the latest diet trend to solve the problem; we want change, and we want it NOW!!
When you focus on a small goal or a simple habit, you will build confidence through accomplishing the task. Walk for 10 minutes. Drink a glass of water first thing in the morning. Add 1 serving of vegetables to one of your meals.
Even though you are working towards a bigger goal, for psychological reasons a series of small victories is desirable.
Healthy Habit Tip: Start with the smallest action that you can confidently complete.
SHARE YOUR GOALS WITH OTHERS
Earlier this year, I decided to give up dining out and delivery food for 40 days. When spending time with my family, if take out was being ordered, I’d instead cook my own meal. If friends asked me out to dinner, I’d explain I’d be eating at home but asked if we could we meet up later. At first, it was so tough!! For me, going out to eat means eating (unhealthy) yummy food, and it felt like I was missing out on something. But as time went on, not only did my cravings for unhealthy food diminish, but because I’d shared my goal with others, they helped me stay accountable… like my sister, who reminded me I couldn’t have her leftovers from Cheesecake Factory because it still counts as dining out.
More than the accountability, because others knew about my goal, they were supportive and encouraged me to keep my commitment.
Another benefit of sharing your goals with others, you might discover people in your circle that share the same goal!
Healthy Habit Tip: Find a FB, MeetUp, or local group within your community and connect with others who share your interest or goal.
USE A TRACKING SYSTEM
Jerry Seinfeld, legendary comedian, has given this advice to other writers when asked about his success: write every and “don’t break the chain!” He is talking about his productivity technique using a daily calendar tracking system.
As he explains, “get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step is to get a big red magic marker. For each day that you do (your task), put a big red X over that day. After a few days you’ll have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job next is to not break the chain.”
This works because it is the consistent daily action that builds positive outcomes. Daily action builds habits.
Healthy Habit Tip: There are numerous wearables and Apps that allow you to track your habits!
DON’T LET A SETBACK DERAIL YOU
Whether your goal is to lose weight, eat healthier, or start working out… chances are, at some point on your journey to creating healthy habits you’ll encounter a setback.
A setback could be inhaling too many cupcakes at a birthday party, skipping out on going to the gym, or having one too many adult beverages while hanging out with friends (which could lead to skipping the gym and inhaling cupcakes!). Whatever it is, we’ve all experienced situations where our best intentions go out the window.
The important thing here is not to let a slip up or setback completely derail your progress, and ultimately your long-term goals.
You may have heard fitness professionals talk about the 80/20 rule. Eat clean 80% of the time, and the other 20% of the time you’re allowed to indulge. The key principle here is moderation! Or said another way, progress not perfection.
This also ties back to setting small, realistic goals. Pushing yourself to do too much, too soon can lead to burnout and ultimately giving up all together.
If you do encounter a setback, or find that your initial goal wasn’t realistic, there’s no need for shame or blame or guilt. Just hit the reset button, or make an adjustment, and keep going.
Healthy Habit Tip: Schedule rest days or indulgences into your plan.
REMEMBER WHY YOU STARTED
When it comes to creating lasting healthy habits, will power will only take you so far. So, what’s the trick to staying motivated in the long run? Find your WHY.
The idea of finding a deeper motivation, your purpose, or your passion, has been talked about in business, career planning, health and other areas.
When it comes to healthy habits, such a eating well and moving move, having a deeper, more meaningful motivation is the key to lasting change. The scale may go up and down on your health journey, but remembering that you want to have more energy to play with your kids, or have more time for your significant other, or experience life without fatigue and aches and pains can help you stay committed.
Healthy Habit Tip: On a Post-it or piece of paper, write down your WHY. Be sure to put it some place where you’ll look at it daily, as a reminder of your commitment to your new healthy habits.
To your health,
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