How To Make A Healthy Lifestyle A Habit
Edited by Jen M
Maintaining a healthy habit can be a wonderful way to improve self-esteem, build willpower, and contribute to a successful life overall. As we grow older, it's considered a sign of maturity to address and change the less savory characteristics we develop over time, like smoking or unhealthy eating. Making a significant change in your habits can also serve as a proclamation of your priorities, and the kind of person you hope to be in your future. However, breaking bad habits can take a significant amount of time, which can be a huge source of stress to many people looking for change. Lack of motivation, stress, and unpreparedness can also impede a person's attempt to build a healthier lifestyle by making it difficult for one to stick to their principles in the long run.
Whether you're aiming to run a mile a day, eat clean, or simply drink more water, it's important to build a game plan that will keep you focused on your goals. This article will address how to overcome potential setbacks in your journey, and will help you develop skills that will motivate you across the weeks, months, and even years it takes to safely kick your bad habit.
You should first ask yourself what it is you're trying to achieve, and how you'll know when you have achieved your goal. Be specific! When you have a clear idea of what your success will look like, it will be easier to shape a game plan that will get you there. Determine if your goal is short term (relatively achievable in a couple of weeks or months) or long-term (a year or more), and be sure to differentiate between goals that affect your personal and professional life.
Inform Family and Friends
Family and friends are often your biggest motivators in your everyday life, so why not involve them in your new journey? Like you, your family and friends will have very emotional attachment to your goals, because they will understand that your new habits are likely to make you happier and healthier. They can also keep you accountable for any setbacks you may encounter, and will be there to encourage you when you need it the most.
There are many ways you can politely inform your close ones of your decision to pursue better habits. You can try:
- writing a post on Facebook
- an email
- calling or texting them (note: this is a less formal method, but will help you avoid any stress you may be feeling about telling them)
- writing a letter
- telling them in person
If you feel comfortable doing so, ask your loved ones to check in with you periodically. Checking in with them can help you in the long run, as it allows you to vent, track the new strides you're making, and make necessary changes to your game plan.
Make a Mood Board
Once you have these benchmarks in place, try making a mood board. A mood board creates a tangible visualization of your success and helps keeps you on track when morale is low. It is most effective when it is visible to you at all times. Your mood board can be any shape, color, or size, and can combine any element: clippings from magazines, illustrations, drawings, text, and just about anything else you can think of. When making your mood board, ask yourself what it will look and feel like to complete your goal, who or what best embodies your goal, and what you think your future will look like after you adopt this healthy habit. Will you be skinnier, faster, stronger, or nicer? Think about this consistently as you create.
Mood boards don't have to be actual boards - if it's easier for you, a Pinterest board will also do just fine. Make sure you have quick access to it by keeping your account open and making a browser bookmark for it. When you feel defeated or less enthusiastic in the next few weeks, use it as a tool to help you push forward.
Preparedness can take you very far with your new habits. Start by thinking about your strengths (what comes to you naturally) and your weaknesses (what you really struggle with.) Is it easy for you to get out of bed early in the morning? What kinds of fruits or vegetables do you actually enjoy? Do you handle stress well? Answering these and similar questions will give you insight on what you need to change immediately or in the future to reach and sustain your habits. The more you are able to anticipate your setbacks, the better you can avoid them.
- 1Set reminders.Consistency is key when making or breaking a habit - studies show that building a healthy habit can take anywhere between 21 to 66 consecutive days. For the first few weeks, it may be difficult to remember your plans! Eating healthy or running laps will seem new and strange to you, so it's important to set reminders for yourself throughout the day to keep yourself on track. How do you best ingest and retain information? Use that method when creating your reminders. If you remember things easily by writing them down, leave notes for yourself where you can see them or add your habit to your daily to-do list. If you're constantly checking your phone, set a timed reminder for when you know you're most likely to see it.Advertisement
- 2Use technology.Chances are, someone somewhere has already achieved your newfound habit and have written, recorded, or coded an answer to your troubles. A cursory internet search on methods to building your habit may yield helpful results. There's no shame in following someone else's footprints if you feel that you will still be successful on the other side. Additionally, the advancement of the app marketplace makes it easy to find resources that can aid you in your attempts. There are apps dedicated to helping you eat clean (like Noom Coach), exercise daily, or quit smoking, so try to find one or two that have the features and capabilities you need to succeed if you are an avid app user.Advertisement
- 3Make it easy.Technology aside, no one can anticipate human error better than actual humans! Once you know your weaknesses, do everything you can to make things easy for yourself. If you'd like to start running in the mornings, place your sneakers and workout attire next to your bed. If you'd like to eat healthier, avoid buying junk food and stay away from offending aisles at the grocery store. If you'd like to quit smoking, try spending less time around loved ones who do smoke, or avoid situations or locations that encourage you to smoke often. Sometimes these endeavors themselves will not be as easy, but the less temptation you're exposed to, the more likely you are to stick with your goal.
Do you remember the old adage, "Rome wasn't built in a day?" Habits are the same way: whether good or bad, it takes time to build them. Think about all of the days, weeks, and months it took to pick up a smoking habit, or how long you went without exercise. These time periods build up! Be honest with yourself about your timeline, and try not to expect any miracles soon. Instead, stay focused on your goals, and remind yourself that you are a work-in-progress. Your journey will always be as important as your destination!
- 1Don't beat yourself up.Setbacks are to be expected, so know how to handle them. Work through any depression or sense of defeat you may feel, and try not to use your setback as an excuse to slide into old habits. Instead, identify any opportunities or actions that may have lead to the setback, and think about how you can avoid same pitfalls in the future. Reach out to friends and family when you can, and ask them for their advice on how to deal with setbacks. When you feel ready to do so, hop back onto your bandwagon as if you'd never fallen off!Advertisement
- 2Chart your progress.Seeing actual results of your hard work can be a great motivator. Before starting your journey, find a few metrics that you can track, like weight, body mass percentage, or how long it takes you to run a mile. Over time, these metrics will change - hopefully, in the way that you'd like! Chart your progress weekly, bi weekly, monthly, or by any schedule that feels comfortable for you. Write down the date of your check-in, what's changed, how you feel about the change, and how much further you have to go. Share the good news with your family and friends if you feel comfortable doing so. When you finally achieve your goals, you'll have a nice look at your change over time, and this can motivate you to maintain all of the hard work you've put into finding your success.
- 3Reward your milestones.Depending on the type of habit you hope to build, this step might not be as feasible. In general, find a reward that will not in some way set you back. For example, don't reward a week without a cigarette with a cigarette; instead, enjoy a night out with friends or a few extra hours of sleep on the weekend. If you exercised every day for a week, spare yourself a little dessert after dinner one night. Habit building is hard work, but it doesn't have to be boring! Rewards can be a great incentive to stick with your goals.Advertisement
Dedication, preparation and motivation are just a few of the things you'll need to build your healthy habits. Patience, above all things, will definitely aid you as you continue to make significant life changes. Remember to create a support team of family and friends, check in with yourself often, and remain realistic about what you can achieve in a week, month, or year. Accept that setbacks are inevitable, know how to recognize their causes, and get up and move on as soon as possible. You'll soon realize that you can achieve what lies in your heart, and that your healthy habit is on the other side of this life-changing journey!
- If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.